B-124140, JUN. 10, 1955

B-124140: Jun 10, 1955

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VETERANS ADMINISTRATION: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF MAY 25. IT IS REPORTED THAT THE LOW BIDDER ON ITEM 1. WAS NOT REPRESENTED AT THE BID OPENING. THAT THEREAFTER THE CORPORATION WAS INVITED TO DISCUSS THE TERMS OF THE POTENTIAL CONTRACT WITH THE HOSPITAL OFFICIALS. OUR FIGURE WAS BASED ON ERRONEOUS INFORMATION FURNISHED BY OUR SALESMAN WHO SURVEYED THE JOB. HE WAS OF THE OPINION THAT THESE ELEVATORS WERE A SIMPLE CAR SWITCH CONTROL SYSTEM. THEY ARE INSTEAD A VERY COMPLICATED SIGNAL CONTROL DESIGN WHICH WOULD REQUIRE SERVICE WHICH WE ARE NOT EQUIPPED TO RENDER. IN THE AMOUNT OF $450 IS ONLY $150 LOWER THAN THE AMOUNT BID BY THE NEXT LOWEST BIDDER AND THUS. IS NOT SO UNREASONABLY LOW AS TO SUGGEST ERROR ON ITS FACE.

B-124140, JUN. 10, 1955

TO HONORABLE H. V. HIGLEY, ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF MAY 25, 1955, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE CHIEF PURCHASING AGENT, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO THE ACTION TO BE TAKEN REGARDING AN ERROR THE HIGDON ELEVATOR COMPANY, INC., ALLEGES IT MADE IN ITS BID DATED MARCH 30, 1955.

BY INVITATION NO. 56-1, THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, NEW YORK, NEW YORK, REQUESTED BIDS--- TO BE OPENED APRIL 4, 1955--- FOR ELEVATORS AND 4 DUMBWAITERS DURING THE PERIOD BEGINNING JULY 1, 1955, AND ENDING JUNE 30, 1956. IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION, THE HIGDON ELEVATOR COMPANY, INC., SUBMITTED A BID OFFERING TO FURNISH THE SERVICES COVERED UNDER ITEM 1 FOR A FLAT MONTHLY CHARGE OF $450.

IT IS REPORTED THAT THE LOW BIDDER ON ITEM 1, HIGDON ELEVATOR COMPANY, INC., WAS NOT REPRESENTED AT THE BID OPENING; THAT THEREAFTER THE CORPORATION WAS INVITED TO DISCUSS THE TERMS OF THE POTENTIAL CONTRACT WITH THE HOSPITAL OFFICIALS; AND THAT DURING THE DISCUSSION, A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CORPORATION ALLEGED THAT AN ERROR HAD BEEN MADE IN ITS BID ON ITEM 1. IN A LETTER DATED APRIL 18, 1955, THE CORPORATION CONFIRMED THE VERBAL ALLEGATION OF ERROR AND STATED---

"IN REFERENCE TO OUR BID NO. 56-1 WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST PERMISSION TO WITHDRAW OUR BID. OUR FIGURE WAS BASED ON ERRONEOUS INFORMATION FURNISHED BY OUR SALESMAN WHO SURVEYED THE JOB. HE WAS OF THE OPINION THAT THESE ELEVATORS WERE A SIMPLE CAR SWITCH CONTROL SYSTEM. THEY ARE INSTEAD A VERY COMPLICATED SIGNAL CONTROL DESIGN WHICH WOULD REQUIRE SERVICE WHICH WE ARE NOT EQUIPPED TO RENDER. OUR PRICE FOR THIS SERVICE, IF WE HAD MEN CAPABLE OF HANDLING THE JOB, WOULD BE APPROXIMATELY $1,450.00 PER MONTH INSTEAD OF $450.00 AS WE QUOTED.'

THE ABSTRACT OF BIDS SHOWS THAT THE SEVEN OTHER BIDDERS ON ITEM 1 SPECIFIED PRICES OF $600, $845, $864, $1,080, $1,500, $1,790, AND $2,050 PER MONTH. THE BID OF THE HIGDON ELEVATOR COMPANY, INC., IN THE AMOUNT OF $450 IS ONLY $150 LOWER THAN THE AMOUNT BID BY THE NEXT LOWEST BIDDER AND THUS, IN COMPARISON, IS NOT SO UNREASONABLY LOW AS TO SUGGEST ERROR ON ITS FACE. MOREOVER, THE CORPORATION'S UNSUPPORTED STATEMENT AS TO THE ALLEGED ERROR, WHICH WAS SUBMITTED AFTER THE AMOUNTS OF ALL THE BIDS HAD BEEN DISCLOSED, MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED AS ESTABLISHING THAT A BONA FIDE ERROR IN THE BID WAS MADE AS ALLEGED.

IT IS A WELL-ESTABLISHED RULE THAT IN ORDER TO AUTHORIZE THE DISREGARDING, WITHDRAWAL, OR CORRECTION OF A BID ON THE BASIS OF MISTAKE ALLEGED AFTER OPENING, THE EVIDENCE OF THE MISTAKE MUST BE SUCH AS TO SHOW CONCLUSIVELY THAT A BONA FIDE MISTAKE WAS MADE AND MUST LEAVE NO ROOM FOR DOUBT THAT THE CLAIM OF ERROR WAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING SOME UNDUE ADVANTAGE OR AVOIDING THE CONSEQUENCES OF AN ILL ADVISED BID. SUCH PROOF HAS NOT BEEN PRESENTED HERE.

ACCORDINGLY, ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS OF RECORD, THERE APPEARS TO BE NO LEGAL BASIS FOR AUTHORIZING THE HIGDON ELEVATOR COMPANY, INC., TO WITHDRAW OR INCREASE ITS BID. SEE 9 COMP. GEN. 339; 14 ID. 78; AND 16 ID. 565. THIS CONCLUSION, HOWEVER, DOES NOT RENDER UNNECESSARY THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION REQUIRED UNDER PARAGRAPH 3 OF THE SPECIAL CONDITIONS OF THE INVITATION AS TO THE BIDDER'S QUALIFICATIONS TO PERFORM THE REQUIRED SERVICES.