B-129632, NOV. 5, 1956

B-129632: Nov 5, 1956

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THAT THE NEXT LOW BID WAS $989. WERE RECEIVED. THAT IT WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE BIDS ORIGINALLY RECORDED. IT WAS DETERMINED THAT LATER ARRIVAL OCCURRED THROUGH NO FAULT ON THE BIDDER'S PART AND THAT THE BID WAS PROPER FOR CONSIDERATION. WHEN INFORMATION THAT THE BID HAD BEEN RECORDED WAS OBTAINED BY THE SURETY SUPPLYING THE BID BOND. THE SURETY ADVISED THAT THE QUOTATION WAS ERRONEOUS. STATING THAT THE QUOTATION SHOULD HAVE BEEN $973. THE ERROR WAS EXPLAINED IN LETTER OF OCTOBER 16. WERE SUBMITTED AS SUBSTANTIATING EVIDENCE. THAT ONLY WHEN THE COMPUTATION WAS VERIFIED AFTER THE QUOTATION SEEMED TO BE OUT OF LINE WAS IT DISCOVERED THAT A FAINT DASH MARK. THE TOTAL SHOWN ON THE TAPE IS $100.

B-129632, NOV. 5, 1956

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

BY LETTER OF OCTOBER 25, 1956, THE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR REQUESTED A DECISION AS TO THE ACTION THAT SHOULD BE TAKEN WITH RESPECT TO AN ERROR ALLEGED BY THE LEVCO CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION IN BIDDING, ON OCTOBER 9, 1956, FOR ADDITIONS AND ALTERATIONS TO BUILDINGS AT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, COATESVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA, PROJECT NOS. 37-5221 AND 5251.

THE ABSTRACT OF BIDS SHOWS THAT THE CORPORATION SUBMITTED A QUOTATION OF $873,000, THAT THE NEXT LOW BID WAS $989,400, AND THAT FOUR OTHER BIDS, RANGING FROM $1,152,000 TO $1,177,730, WERE RECEIVED. THE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR REPORTED THAT THE CORPORATION'S BID ARRIVED ON OCTOBER 9 ONE HOUR AND TEN MINUTES AFTER THE TIME SCHEDULED FOR OPENING; THAT IT WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE BIDS ORIGINALLY RECORDED; AND THAT, AFTER CHECKING THE MATTER WITH THE SUPERINTENDENT OF MAILS, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT LATER ARRIVAL OCCURRED THROUGH NO FAULT ON THE BIDDER'S PART AND THAT THE BID WAS PROPER FOR CONSIDERATION. THEREAFTER, ON OCTOBER 10, WHEN INFORMATION THAT THE BID HAD BEEN RECORDED WAS OBTAINED BY THE SURETY SUPPLYING THE BID BOND, THE SURETY ADVISED THAT THE QUOTATION WAS ERRONEOUS. THE BIDDER CONFIRMED THIS ADVICE BY TELEGRAM DATED OCTOBER 10, STATING THAT THE QUOTATION SHOULD HAVE BEEN $973,000. THE ERROR WAS EXPLAINED IN LETTER OF OCTOBER 16, AND ESTIMATE SHEETS, AN ADDING MACHINE TAPE, AND SUBCONTRACTOR'S BIDS, WERE SUBMITTED AS SUBSTANTIATING EVIDENCE.

A CAREFUL EXAMINATION OF SUCH DATA APPEARS TO FULLY CORROBORATE THE ALLEGATION THAT AN ERROR OF $100,000 ACTUALLY OCCURRED. MR. LEVCO, THE PRESIDENT OF THE CORPORATION, STATED THAT A COMPUTING MACHINE NORMALLY EMPLOYED TO ADD SUBITEMS BROKE DOWN AND NECESSITATED RECOURSE TO AN OLDER MACHINE; THAT ALL SUBITEMS APPEARED TO BE CORRECTLY REGISTERED ON THE TAPE FROM THAT MACHINE; AND THAT ONLY WHEN THE COMPUTATION WAS VERIFIED AFTER THE QUOTATION SEEMED TO BE OUT OF LINE WAS IT DISCOVERED THAT A FAINT DASH MARK, WHICH SIGNIFIES A NON-ADD ITEM, APPEARED ON THE TAPE OPPOSITE A $100,000 SUBITEM FOR PLUMBING WORK. THE TOTAL SHOWN ON THE TAPE IS $100,000 LESS THAN WOULD HAVE BEEN THE CASE HAD ALL SUBITEMS BEEN ADDED, AND THE INCORRECT TOTAL IS SHOWN AS A MAIN COST FIGURE ON THE ESTIMATE SHEET IN ARRIVING AT THE FINAL QUOTATION. THE RECORD THUS SHOWS THAT A BONA FIDE ERROR WAS MADE AND ESTABLISHES CONCLUSIVELY ITS NATURE AND EXTENT TO BE AS ALLEGED.

THE MATTER APPEARS TO FALL WITHIN THE EXCEPTION TO THE BASIC RULE THAT BIDS MAY NOT BE CHANGED AFTER THE TIME FIXED FOR OPENING. CF. 31COMP. GEN. 183. SINCE NOTICE OF THE ERROR WAS GIVEN PRIOR TO AWARD, AND SINCE AN ACTUAL MISTAKE AND ITS PRECISE EXTENT HAVE BEEN PROVED AND THE INTENDED QUOTATION REMAINS THE LOWEST RECEIVED, IT WOULD APPEAR PROPER AND IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PERMIT CORRECTION OF THE BID TO $973,000 AND CONSIDER IT FOR ACCEPTANCE ALONG WITH OTHER BIDS RECEIVED.