B-126054, NOV. 17, 1955

B-126054: Nov 17, 1955

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VETERANS ADMINISTRATION: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 10. SIX BIDS WERE RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION. THE LOW BID WAS SUBMITTED BY E. AFTER THE BIDS WERE OPENED THE SUPPLIER FROM WHOM THE LAUNDRY MACHINE WAS TO BE OBTAINED BY THE LOW BIDDER NOTIFIED YOUR ADMINISTRATION THAT THE LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT OFFERED MET THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FULLY WITH MINOR EXCEPTIONS. WAS GUARANTEED TO BE EQUAL TO THE MACHINE DESCRIBED IN THE INVITATION. IT WAS STATED FURTHER. THAT IN THE EVENT THE MACHINE DESCRIBED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS WAS DEFINITELY REQUIRED. THE ESTABLISHED RULE IS THAT THE ONLY INFORMALITIES WHICH MAY BE WAIVED ARE THOSE WHICH DO NOT GO TO THE SUBSTANCE OF THE BID AND DO NOT WORK AN INJUSTICE TO THE OTHER BIDDERS. 30 COMP.

B-126054, NOV. 17, 1955

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

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 10, 1955, WITH ENCLOSURES, IN EFFECT REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER AWARD OF A CONTRACT PROPERLY MAY BE MADE TO E. GOETTLING AND SON UNDER THE BID SUBMITTED BY THAT CONCERN IN RESPONSE TO INVITATION FOR BIDS ISSUED ON SEPTEMBER 2, 1955.

IT APPEARS THAT THE INVITATION REQUESTED BIDS TO BE OPENED ON OCTOBER 4, 1955, FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A LAUNDRY ADDITION, BUILDING NO. 19, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, AMERICAN LAKE, WASHINGTON. SIX BIDS WERE RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION. THE LOW BID WAS SUBMITTED BY E. GOETTLING AND SON, BUT THAT BIDDER OFFERED A WASHING MACHINE WHICH DEVIATED FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS IN CERTAIN RESPECTS. THEY CALLED FOR A MACHINE WITH A VERTICAL PARTITION AND ONE TO BE OF A SIZE 36 INCHES X 54 INCHES WITH TYPE "D" CONTROLS. THE MACHINE OFFERED BY THE LOW BIDDER HAD A HORIZONTAL PARTITION AND A DIAMETER OF 42 INCHES IN LIEU OF 36 INCHES AS SPECIFIED. ALSO IT HAD A CYLINDER LENGTH OF 36 INCHES INSTEAD OF 54 INCHES AS SPECIFIED. AFTER THE BIDS WERE OPENED THE SUPPLIER FROM WHOM THE LAUNDRY MACHINE WAS TO BE OBTAINED BY THE LOW BIDDER NOTIFIED YOUR ADMINISTRATION THAT THE LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT OFFERED MET THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FULLY WITH MINOR EXCEPTIONS, WAS GUARANTEED TO BE EQUAL TO THE MACHINE DESCRIBED IN THE INVITATION, AND HAD A HIGHER DOLLAR VALUE THAN THAT MACHINE. IT WAS STATED FURTHER, HOWEVER, THAT IN THE EVENT THE MACHINE DESCRIBED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS WAS DEFINITELY REQUIRED, IT WOULD BE FURNISHED TO E. GOETTLING AND SON TO ENABLE THEM TO COMPLY WITH THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS.

THE ESTABLISHED RULE IS THAT THE ONLY INFORMALITIES WHICH MAY BE WAIVED ARE THOSE WHICH DO NOT GO TO THE SUBSTANCE OF THE BID AND DO NOT WORK AN INJUSTICE TO THE OTHER BIDDERS. 30 COMP. GEN. 179. IN THE PRESENT CASE, IT SEEMS CLEAR THAT, SINCE THE DEVIATIONS WOULD AFFECT MATERIALLY THE SIZE, CAPACITY AND TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION OF THE EQUIPMENT OFFERED, THEY MUST BE CONSIDERED SUBSTANTIAL DEVIATIONS. IN THIS VIEW THE BID IS NOT RESPONSIVE TO THE INVITATION AND MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED ON THE BASIS SUBMITTED. SEE 30 COMP. GEN. 179. NOR MAY THE LOW BIDDER BE GIVEN THE ELECTION, AFTER OPENING, OF CHANGING ITS BID BY WAIVING THE DEVIATIONS. WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY TAKEN THE POSITION THAT A BIDDER PROPERLY MAY NOT BE GIVEN MORE THAN ONE CHANCE UNDER THE SAME INVITATION. AS WAS STATED IN B- 120436, DATED AUGUST 20, 1954, 34 COMP. GEN. 82, CITING 17 COMP. GEN. 554,"THE STRICT MAINTENANCE OF THE COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCEDURES REQUIRED BY LAW IS INFINITELY MORE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST THAN OBTAINING A PECUNIARY ADVANTAGE IN INDIVIDUAL CASES BY PERMITTING PRACTICES WHICH DO VIOLENCE TO THE SPIRIT AND PURPOSE OF THE LAW. CONDITIONS OR RESERVATIONS WHICH GIVE A BIDDER A CHANCE TO SECOND-GUESS HIS COMPETITORS AFTER BID OPENING MUST BE REGARDED AS FATAL TO THE BID.'