B-125695, OCT. 25, 1955

B-125695: Oct 25, 1955

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TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED OCTOBER 5. THE MATTER WAS SUBMITTED HERE FOR CONSIDERATION AND DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER ANY RELIEF MAY BE GRANTED THE CONTRACTOR. 10A AND 10B WERE ACCEPTED. BIDS WERE REQUESTED FOR THE ENTIRE ITEM. AS FOLLOWS: "WE REGRET THAT ITEM NO. 9 OF YOUR ABOVE PURCHASE ORDER WAS QUOTED TO YOU IN ERROR ON OUR QUOTATION DATED AUGUST 6. INASMUCH AS ALL HAMILTON PRODUCTS ARE FAIR TRADED AND WE ARE BOUND BY A DISTRIBUTOR AGREEMENT WITH THE HAMILTON MANUFACTURING COMPANY TO MAINTAIN THESE FAIR TRADE PRICES. IT IS NOTED THAT SEVEN BIDS WERE RECEIVED ON ITEM 9. THE PRICES QUOTED BY THE OTHER BIDDERS ON THOSE UNITS WERE $184.

B-125695, OCT. 25, 1955

TO THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED OCTOBER 5, 1955, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT SECRETARY, RELATING TO A MISTAKE IN BID ALLEGED BY THE PATTON-HARRIS COMPANY, INC., BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, UNDER INVITATION NO. SCS-9-MS-56, ISSUED BY THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI. THE MATTER WAS SUBMITTED HERE FOR CONSIDERATION AND DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER ANY RELIEF MAY BE GRANTED THE CONTRACTOR.

BY INVITATION NO. SCS-9-MS-56, DATED AUGUST 4, 1955, THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE INVITED BIDS FOR FURNISHING CERTAIN ENGINEERING EQUIPMENT, THE BIDS TO BE OPENED AUGUST 18, 1955. IN RESPONSE, THE PATTON -HARRIS COMPANY, INC., SUBMITTED BIDS FOR CERTAIN OF THE ITEMS, AND ON AUGUST 23, 1955, ITS BID ON ITEMS 9, 10, 10A AND 10B WERE ACCEPTED. ITEM 9 CONSISTED OF TWO FIVE-DRAWER MAP FILING UNITS, WITH ONE BASE AND ONE TOP, AND BIDS WERE REQUESTED FOR THE ENTIRE ITEM, FOR DELIVERY AT YAZOO CITY, MISSISSIPPI.

BY LETTER OF AUGUST 29, 1955, THE PATTON-HARRIS COMPANY, INC., ADVISED THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"WE REGRET THAT ITEM NO. 9 OF YOUR ABOVE PURCHASE ORDER WAS QUOTED TO YOU IN ERROR ON OUR QUOTATION DATED AUGUST 6. IN FIGURING THIS QUOTATION, WE ARRIVED AT THE LOT PRICE OF $137.50 BUT DID NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION YOUR REQUEST FOR TWO NO. 32-C HAMILTON FIVE-DRAWER UNITS.

"THEREFORE, THE CORRECT BID PRICE FOR THE ENTIRE LOT COVERED BY ITEM NO. 9 SHOULD BE $230.00 INSTEAD OF $137.50. INASMUCH AS ALL HAMILTON PRODUCTS ARE FAIR TRADED AND WE ARE BOUND BY A DISTRIBUTOR AGREEMENT WITH THE HAMILTON MANUFACTURING COMPANY TO MAINTAIN THESE FAIR TRADE PRICES, WE ASK THAT YOU PLEASE GIVE US YOUR AUTHORIZATION TO INCREASE THE PRICE OF ITEM NO. 9 FROM $137.50 TO $230.00.'

IT IS NOTED THAT SEVEN BIDS WERE RECEIVED ON ITEM 9, RANGING FROM THE CONTRACTOR'S LOW BID OF $137.50 TO A HIGH BID OF $240. THE PATTON HARRIS COMPANY, AND ALL BUT ONE OF THE OTHER SIX BIDDERS, OFFERED TO FURNISH HAMILTON NO. 32C DRAWER SECTIONS, HAMILTON NO. 32T TOP, AND HAMILTON NO. 32H BASE, SUCH ITEMS BEING RESPONSIVE TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE INVITATION. THE PRICES QUOTED BY THE OTHER BIDDERS ON THOSE UNITS WERE $184, $184, $187 (BY THE MANUFACTURER), $229, AND $240. THE ONLY OTHER BID WAS $171 ON A DIFFERENT MAKE OF EQUIPMENT. THERE IS NO STATEMENT IN THE FILE AS TO WHETHER THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CONSIDERED THE CLAIMANT'S BID AS OUT OF LINE WITH THE OTHER BIDS, BUT IN VIEW OF THE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN THE LOW BID AND THE OTHER BIDS COVERING IDENTICAL EQUIPMENT, IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER SHOULD NOT HAVE ACCEPTED THE LOW BID WITHOUT REQUESTING THE BIDDER TO VERIFY ITS PRICE.

SINCE THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED APPEARS TO ESTABLISH THE EXISTENCE OF A MISTAKE IN BID, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED IF VERIFICATION HAD BEEN REQUESTED, THE CONTRACT MAY BE CANCELED AS TO ITEM 9, OR, IF DELIVERY HAS BEEN MADE OF THAT ITEM PAYMENT MAY BE MADE AT THE PRICE OFFERED BY THE NEXT LOWEST RESPONSIVE BID.

THE PAPERS TRANSMITTED WITH THE LETTER OF OCTOBER 5, 1955, ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.