B-131544, APR. 29, 1957

B-131544: Apr 29, 1957

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NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 9. TO HAVE BEEN MADE IN THEIR BIDS OPENED ON MARCH 26. BIDS WERE REQUESTED FOR FURNISHING 11 ITEMS OF LABORATORY EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURED BY BECKMAN INSTRUMENTS. ITEM 5 COVERS ONE BATTERY POWER REGULATOR WITHOUT A STORAGE BATTERY AND ITEM 6 COVERS TWO REGULATORS OF THE SAME TYPE AS COVERED BY ITEM 5 EXCEPT THAT THESE REGULATORS ARE TO BE EQUIPPED WITH STORAGE BATTERIES. MACHLETT AND SON OF $26 EACH ON ITEM 6 IS COMPLETELY OUT OF LINE WITH THE OTHER BIDS. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR DOUBT THAT THE COMPANY MADE ERRORS IN ITS BID. ARE NOT SUCH AS WOULD WARRANT A DEPARTURE FROM THE GENERAL RULE THAT BIDS MAY NOT BE CHANGED AFTER THE BIDS HAVE BEEN OPENED.

B-131544, APR. 29, 1957

TO MR. DONALD R. WATSON, CONTRACTING OFFICER, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 9, 1957, FILE M-3290, WITH ENCLOSURES, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO THE ACTION TO BE TAKEN CONCERNING ERRORS ALLEGED BY E. MACHLETT AND SON, NEW YORK, NEW YORK, AND MACALASTER BICKNELL COMPANY, CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, TO HAVE BEEN MADE IN THEIR BIDS OPENED ON MARCH 26, 1957.

BY INVITATION NO. 504-3-26-57, BIDS WERE REQUESTED FOR FURNISHING 11 ITEMS OF LABORATORY EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURED BY BECKMAN INSTRUMENTS, INC., FULLERTON, CALIFORNIA, OR EQUAL. ITEM 1 OF THE INVITATION COVERS ONE SPECTROPHOTOMETER. ITEM 5 COVERS ONE BATTERY POWER REGULATOR WITHOUT A STORAGE BATTERY AND ITEM 6 COVERS TWO REGULATORS OF THE SAME TYPE AS COVERED BY ITEM 5 EXCEPT THAT THESE REGULATORS ARE TO BE EQUIPPED WITH STORAGE BATTERIES. IN RESPONSE E. MACHLETT AND SON SUBMITTED A BID DATED MARCH 18, 1957, OFFERING TO FURNISH, AMONG OTHER ITEMS, THE EQUIPMENT UNDER ITEMS 1 AND 6 AT PRICES OF $1,000 EACH AND $26 EACH, RESPECTIVELY.

BY TELEGRAM DATED MARCH 26, 1957, E. MACHLETT AND SON REQUESTED THAT ITS BID PRICES FOR ITEMS 1 AND 6 BE CORRECTED TO READ $975 EACH AND $221 EACH, RESPECTIVELY. IN A CONFIRMING LETTER DATED APRIL 3, 1957, THE COMPANY STATED THAT UNDER ITEM 1, IT HAD INADVERTENTLY QUOTED THE PRICE FOR A BECKMAN NO. 12500 MODEL B SPECTROPHOTOMETER, A 25 CYCLE UNIT, RATHER THAN THE PRICE FOR A NO. 12000 MODEL B SPECTROPHOTOMETER, A 60 CYCLE UNIT, AS REQUIRED BY THE INVITATION; AND THAT UNDER ITEM 6, IT HAD INADVERTENTLY QUOTED THE PRICE FOR THE STORAGE BATTERY ONLY AND NOT THE PRICE FOR THE COMPLETE NO.'14502 POWER SUPPLIES" WHICH, IT STATED, INCLUDES A STORAGE BATTERY. THE COMPANY REQUESTED THAT ITS BID PRICE ON ITEM 1 BE DECREASED FROM $1,000 TO $975 AND THAT ITS BID PRICE ON ITEM 6 BE INCREASED FROM $26 TO $221.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THE 17 OTHER BIDDERS QUOTED AN IDENTICAL PRICE OF $975 ON ITEM 1--- THE SAME PRICE WHICH E. MACHLETT AND SON ALLEGES IT INTENDED TO BID. IT ALSO INDICATES THAT 16 OF THE 17 OTHER BIDDERS ON ITEM 6 QUOTED AN IDENTICAL PRICE OF $221 EACH FOR ITEM 6 AND THAT THE SEVENTEENTH BIDDER, MACALASTER BICKNELL COMPANY, QUOTED A PRICE OF $219 EACH FOR THAT ITEM. THUS, THE BID OF E. MACHLETT AND SON OF $26 EACH ON ITEM 6 IS COMPLETELY OUT OF LINE WITH THE OTHER BIDS.

ON THE RECORD, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR DOUBT THAT THE COMPANY MADE ERRORS IN ITS BID, AS ALLEGED. THE CIRCUMSTANCES, HOWEVER, ARE NOT SUCH AS WOULD WARRANT A DEPARTURE FROM THE GENERAL RULE THAT BIDS MAY NOT BE CHANGED AFTER THE BIDS HAVE BEEN OPENED. SEE 17 COMP. GEN. 575. ACCORDINGLY, THE BID OF E. MACHLETT AND SON AS TO ITEMS 1 AND 6 SHOULD BE DISREGARDED IN MAKING THE AWARD.

IN RESPONSE TO THE SAME INVITATION, THE MACALASTER BICKNELL COMPANY SUBMITTED A BID DATED MARCH 20, 1957, OFFERING TO FURNISH, AMONG OTHERS, ITEMS 5 (POWER REGULATOR WITHOUT STORAGE BATTERY) AND 6 (POWER REGULATOR WITH STORAGE BATTERY) AT PRICES OF $195 EACH AND $219 EACH, RESPECTIVELY. BY LETTER DATED APRIL 2, 1957, THE COMPANY ADVISED THAT IN COMPUTING ITS BID PRICE ON ITEM 6, ITS QUOTATION CLERK HAD FAILED TO NOTE THAT ITS SUPPLIER, BECKMAN INSTRUMENTS, INC., HAD INCREASED ITS PRICE FROM $24 TO $26 FOR THE STORAGE BATTERY REQUIRED AS A PART OF THAT ITEM AND THAT IT WISHED TO WITHDRAW ITS BID ON THAT ITEM SINCE IT DID NOT CARE TO SELL THE ITEM AT A PRICE LOWER THAN THE FRANCHISE PRICE. THE RECORD INDICATES THAT 16 OF THE 17 OTHER BIDDERS ON ITEM 6 QUOTED AN IDENTICAL PRICE OF $221 EACH AND THAT THE SEVENTEENTH BIDDER -- E. MACHLETT AND SON, WHO SUBSEQUENTLY ALLEGED THAT THE CORRECT UNIT PRICE FOR ITEM 6 WAS $221--- QUOTED AN ERRONEOUS PRICE OF $26. IT ALSO SHOWN THAT EACH OF THESE BIDDERS ADDED THE AMOUNT OF $26--- THE AMOUNT WHICH MACALASTER BICKNELL COMPANY ALLEGES SHOULD HAVE BEEN INCLUDED IN ITS BID PRICE FOR ITEM 6 TO COVER THE COST OF THE BATTERY- - TO EACH OF THEIR BID PRICES ON ITEM 5 TO ARRIVE AT THEIR BID PRICE OF $221 FOR ITEM 6. THUS, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE EQUIPMENT COVERED BY ITEM 6 IS FAIR-TRADED AT A PRICE OF $221--- THE MACALASTER BICKNELL COMPANY'S ALLEGED INTENDED BID PRICE FOR THE EQUIPMENT REQUIRED UNDER THAT ITEM.

ON THE RECORD, THERE APPEARS NO ROOM FOR REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THE COMPANY MADE AN ERROR IN ITS BID, AS ALLEGED. ACCORDINGLY, SINCE THE ERROR WAS ALLEGED PRIOR TO AWARD, THE BID OF THE MACALASTER BICKNELL COMPANY AS TO ITEM 6 MAY BE DISREGARDED IN MAKING THE AWARD.