B-112918, MAR 11, 1953

B-112918: Mar 11, 1953

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PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER OF FEBRUARY 25. WHEREIN IT WAS ALLEGED THAT AN ERROR WAS MADE IN ITS BID ON WHICH PURCHASE ORDER NO. (22- 600)-53-537. WAS ISSUED. THE BID OF THE COMPANY WAS ACCEPTED ON JULY 30. IN THAT ITS BID OF $0.28 WAS INTENDED FOR EACH PENCIL AND THAT ITS BID SHOULD HAVE BEEN $3.36 PER BOX OF 12 PENCILS. WHEREIN IT WAS STATED THAT IT WAS THE POLICY OF THE MANUFACTURER TO HANDLE CONTRACT BUSINESS THROUGH SPECIAL AGENTS WHOM THEY APPOINT TO BID FOR THEM AT THE PRICES THEY DESIGNATE. THAT ITS PRICE FOR THE PENCILS INVOLVED WAS $3.36 PER DOZEN. THE ABSTRACT OF BIDS SHOWS THAT THE OTHER BIDS RECEIVED ON ITEM 8 WERE $1.05 $1.80 AND 3 BIDS AT $3.36 PER DOZEN.

B-112918, MAR 11, 1953

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER OF FEBRUARY 25, 1953, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE OFFICE, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, CONCERNING A LETTER OF NOVEMBER 14, 1952, FROM WAITE-JONES COMPANY, WHEREIN IT WAS ALLEGED THAT AN ERROR WAS MADE IN ITS BID ON WHICH PURCHASE ORDER NO. (22- 600)-53-537, DATED JULY 30, 1952, WAS ISSUED.

BY INVITATION 25B-53-4, THE PROCUREMENT OFFICE, KESSLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISSISSIPPI, REQUESTED BIDS - TO BE OPENED JULY 25, 1952 - FOR THE FURNISHING OF OFFICE SUPPLIES. IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION, THE WAITE- JONES COMPANY SUBMITTED A BID OFFERING TO FURNISH SEVERAL ITEMS INCLUDING ITEM 8 OF THE INVITATION, COVERING 200 BOXES OF YELLOW FLUORESCENT PENCILS FOR $0.28 PER BOX OF 12 PENCILS. THE BID OF THE COMPANY WAS ACCEPTED ON JULY 30, 1952, AS TO SEVERAL ITEMS INCLUDING ITEM 8.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE COMPANY, BY LETTER DATED AUGUST 5, 1952, ADVISED THE CONTRACTING OFFICER THAT AN ERROR HAD BEEN MADE IN QUOTING ON ITEM 8, IN THAT ITS BID OF $0.28 WAS INTENDED FOR EACH PENCIL AND THAT ITS BID SHOULD HAVE BEEN $3.36 PER BOX OF 12 PENCILS. IN SUPPORT OF ITS ALLEGATION OF ERROR THE CONTRACTOR FORWARDED A LETTER DATED JUNE 11, 1952, ADDRESSED TO THE COMPANY FROM ITS SUPPLIER AND MANUFACTURER OF THE PENCILS INVOLVED, WHEREIN IT WAS STATED THAT IT WAS THE POLICY OF THE MANUFACTURER TO HANDLE CONTRACT BUSINESS THROUGH SPECIAL AGENTS WHOM THEY APPOINT TO BID FOR THEM AT THE PRICES THEY DESIGNATE, AND THAT ITS PRICE FOR THE PENCILS INVOLVED WAS $3.36 PER DOZEN. THE ABSTRACT OF BIDS SHOWS THAT THE OTHER BIDS RECEIVED ON ITEM 8 WERE $1.05 $1.80 AND 3 BIDS AT $3.36 PER DOZEN. THUS, THE COMPANY'S BID OF $0.28 PER DOZEN IS OUT OF LINE WITH THE OTHER BIDS. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, IT APPEARS THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON NOTICE OF THE PROBABILITY OF ERROR IN THE BID AND, THEREFORE, SHOULD NOT HAVE ACCEPTED THE BID WITHOUT REQUESTING VERIFICATION THEREOF.

IN A STATEMENT DATED JANUARY 26, 1953, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER REPORTED, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DID NOT NOTICE ANY ERROR IN THE BID OF WAITE JONES COMPANY ON PURCHASE ORDER (22-600)53-537 PRIOR TO AWARD. THERE WAS REASON TO SUSPECT AN ERROR AS THE ABSTRACT WILL REFLECT THAT THE BID WAS EXTREMELY OUT OF LINE. A MISTAKE OCCURRED IN NOT QUESTIONING THIS BID. HOWEVER, IT HAS BEEN THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S EXPERIENCE THAT OUT OF LINE PRICES ARE OFTEN QUOTED TO MOVE CERTAIN ITEMS. IN OVERLOOKING THE UNUSUALNESS OF THE QUOTATION IN QUESTION, SUCH EXPERIENCE WAS PARTIALLY RESPONSIBLE."

ALTHOUGH THERE APPEARS LITTLE ROOM FOR DOUBT THAT THE COMPANY MADE A BONA FIDE ERROR ON ITEM 8 OF ITS BID, AS ALLEGED, IF THE BID ON SAID ITEM IS INCREASED TO THE AMOUNT ALLEGEDLY INTENDED, IT WILL NOT BE THE LOWEST BID RECEIVED THEREON.

ACCORDINGLY, PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED TO BE MADE FOR THE PENCILS UNDER ITEM 8 IN THE AMOUNT OF THE NEXT LOWEST RESPONSIVE BID.

A REFERENCE TO THIS DECISION SHOULD BE MADE ON THE VOUCHER COVERING PAYMENT FOR THE PENCILS DELIVERED.

THE PAPERS, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S STATEMENT, ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.