B-125247, SEP. 20, 1955

B-125247: Sep 20, 1955

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TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED AUGUST 16. FIVE BIDS WERE RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION AND DREXLER AND STROM. THEIR BID UNDER ITEM 1 AT $10.90 PER ACRE AND ITEM 2 AT $7.20 PER ACRE WAS RECOGNIZED AS BEING UNREASONABLY LOW AS COMPARED TO THE FOREST SERVICE ESTIMATE OF $22.50 AND $20.00. BEFORE AWARDS WERE MADE THE BID WAS DISCUSSED WITH DREXLER AND STROM AND IT WAS LEARNED THAT THEY HAD NOT RECOGNIZED OR CONSIDERED A SPECIES OF RIBES (CURRENT) WHICH WAS THE PREDOMINANT ERADICATION PROBLEM IN THE LOTS COVERED BY ITEMS 1 AND 2. WITH WHICH THEY WERE FAMILIAR. SINCE IT WAS CONSIDERED THAT THE BIDDERS COULD NOT POSSIBLY COMPLETE ITEMS 1 AND 2 WITHIN THEIR VACATION PERIOD.

B-125247, SEP. 20, 1955

TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED AUGUST 16, 1955, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE ACTING SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, RELATIVE TO THE ACTION TAKEN IN AWARDING CERTAIN ITEMS OF A CONTRACT FOR ERADICATION OF RIBES TO OTHER THAN THE LOW BIDDER.

BY INVITATION NO. 11-17 THE FOREST SERVICE, PLUMAS NATIONAL FOREST REQUESTED BIDS--- TO BE OPENED JUNE 24, 1955--- FOR THE ERADICATION, BY HAND PULLING AND DIGGING, OF RIBES (GOOSEBERRIES AND CURRANTS) FOR THE CONTROL OF WHITE PINE BLISTER RUST DISEASE ON FOUR ITEMS OF 57, 74, 62 AND 70 ACRES RESPECTIVELY. FIVE BIDS WERE RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION AND DREXLER AND STROM, A TEAM OF YOUNG MEDICAL STUDENTS WITH VERY LITTLE PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE, SUBMITTED THE LOWEST BID FOR EACH OF THE FOUR ITEMS. THEIR BID UNDER ITEM 1 AT $10.90 PER ACRE AND ITEM 2 AT $7.20 PER ACRE WAS RECOGNIZED AS BEING UNREASONABLY LOW AS COMPARED TO THE FOREST SERVICE ESTIMATE OF $22.50 AND $20.00, AND THE OTHER BIDS WHICH RANGED FROM $18.25 TO $20.00 FOR ITEM 1, AND $16.50 TO $18.75 FOR ITEM 2. BEFORE AWARDS WERE MADE THE BID WAS DISCUSSED WITH DREXLER AND STROM AND IT WAS LEARNED THAT THEY HAD NOT RECOGNIZED OR CONSIDERED A SPECIES OF RIBES (CURRENT) WHICH WAS THE PREDOMINANT ERADICATION PROBLEM IN THE LOTS COVERED BY ITEMS 1 AND 2, THEIR BID BEING BASED UPON THE WORK INVOLVED IN DIGGING ONLY THE GOOSEBERRY BUSHES, WITH WHICH THEY WERE FAMILIAR, AND NOT INCLUDING THE GREATER NUMBER OF CURRENT BUSHES PREVALENT IN THESE AREAS. SINCE IT WAS CONSIDERED THAT THE BIDDERS COULD NOT POSSIBLY COMPLETE ITEMS 1 AND 2 WITHIN THEIR VACATION PERIOD, WHICH ENDS SEPTEMBER 1, 1955, AND A CONTRACT AT THE EXTREMELY LOW PRICE QUOTED WOULD IMPOSE A CONSIDERABLE HARDSHIP AND THE FACT THAT THE BIDDERS WERE NOT FULLY INFORMED REGARDING THE AMOUNT OF WORK INVOLVED, AWARDS FOR THESE ITEMS WERE MADE TO THE NEXT LOWEST BIDDERS. THE AWARD OF ITEMS 1 AND 2 WERE SUBSEQUENTLY QUESTIONED BY YOUR REGIONAL OFFICE AT SAN FRANCISCO AND WORK WAS SUSPENDED UNDER THESE ITEMS PENDING A DECISION FROM THIS OFFICE AS TO WHETHER THE AWARDS AS MADE MAY BE ALLOWED TO STAND.

THE DETERMINATION OF THE RESPONSIBILITY OF A BIDDER--- WHICH HAS LONG BEEN RECOGNIZED AS INCLUDING NOT ONLY FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY BUT JUDGMENT, SKILL, ABILITY, CAPACITY, AND INTEGRITY--- IS PRIMARILY THE FUNCTION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS EMPOWERED TO AWARD THE CONTRACT. IN VIEW OF THE NECESSITY FOR HAVING THE ERADICATION WORK IN THESE AREAS COMPLETED DURING THE CURRENT SEASON, AND SINCE THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DETERMINED THAT THE LOW BIDDER COULD NOT COMPLETE THE WORK WITHIN THE TIME REQUIRED WHICH NECESSARILY WOULD DELAY A VITAL PROGRAM IT IS OBVIOUS THAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN CONTRARY TO THE PUBLIC INTEREST TO AWARD ITEMS 1 AND 2 TO THE LOW BIDDER.

ACCORDINGLY, SINCE THE FACTS REPORTED BY YOUR DEPARTMENT SUFFICIENTLY ESTABLISH THAT THE LOW BIDDER IS LACKING IN FITNESS, CAPACITY AND ABILITY TO SUCCESSFULLY FULFILL THE CONTRACT REQUIREMENT, WE WILL INTERPOSE NO OBJECTION TO THE AWARDS AS MADE.