B-133869, OCT. 2, 1957

B-133869: Oct 2, 1957

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 23. ONE OTHER BID WAS RECEIVED BUT IT OFFERED ONLY THREE ROOMS. " PROVIDED THAT "* * * THE BIDDER WILL INDICATE WHAT SERVICES WILL BE FURNISHED BY WRITING "YES" AND "NO" AFTER EACH * * *.'. IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE SPACE OFFERED BY MR. MATHIS MET THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND HIS BID WAS ACCEPTED ON JUNE 17. A LEASE WAS PREPARED AND PRESENTED TO MR. IT IS REPORTED THAT WHEN THE LEASE WAS PRESENTED TO MR. WHEREAS IT WAS THE INTENTION OF HIS BID TO FURNISH THE FACILITIES BUT NOT THE UTILITY SERVICES. HE WAS ADVISED THAT HIS BID PROVIDED THAT HE WOULD FURNISH THE UTILITY SERVICES. HE STATED THAT SUCH WAS NOT HIS INTENTION AND HE COULD NOT AFFORD TO RENT THE SPACE ON THAT BASIS FOR THE PRICE QUOTED.

B-133869, OCT. 2, 1957

TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 23, 1957, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER A LEASE FOR OFFICE SPACE AT WIGGINS, MISSISSIPPI, AS MODIFIED BY THE LESSOR, MAY BE EXECUTED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

THE FOREST SERVICE, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, BY INVITATION NO. 107, ISSUED JUNE 4, 1957, REQUESTED BIDS FOR FURNISHING OFFICE SPACE IN WIGGINS, MISSISSIPPI, FOR USE AS HEADQUARTERS FOR THE DISTRICT RANGER, UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE. THE INVITATION REQUESTED BIDS ON NOT LESS THAN FOUR ROOMS CONTAINING APPROXIMATELY 750 SQUARE FEET OF FLOOR SPACE, TO BE SUITABLE FOR MODERN OFFICES IN A MODERN CLASS A, SEMI FIREPROOF OR FIREPROOF BUILDING, WITH NATURAL LIGHT AND VENTILATION ADEQUATE FOR NORMAL OFFICE PURPOSES, AND PARKING SPACE FOR FIVE AUTOMOBILES. THE INVITATION PROVIDED FOR BIDDERS TO QUOTE ON THE BASIS OF THE TOTAL SQUARE FEET OF FLOOR SPACE OFFERED, AND THE RATE PER MONTH FOR THE SPACE, WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING.

IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION, CHARLES E. MATHIS SUBMITTED A BID OFFERING TO FURNISH FOUR CONTAINING ROOMS, CONTAINING A TOTAL AREA OF APPROXIMATELY 592 SQUARE FEET OF FLOOR SPACE, FOR $60 PER MONTH. ONE OTHER BID WAS RECEIVED BUT IT OFFERED ONLY THREE ROOMS, AND NO PARKING SPACE.

THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE BID FORM, UNDER A PARAGRAPH ENTITLED "FACILITIES REQUIRED," LISTED ,FACILITIES FOR ADEQUATE HEATING AND LIGHTING; SUFFICIENT OUTLETS FOR OPERATING OF OFFICE MACHINES AND EQUIPMENT * * *.' THE NEXT PARAGRAPH, ENTITLED "FACILITIES DESIRED," PROVIDED THAT "* * * THE BIDDER WILL INDICATE WHAT SERVICES WILL BE FURNISHED BY WRITING "YES" AND "NO" AFTER EACH * * *.' OPPOSITE THE ITEMS HEAT AND ELECTRIC CURRENT, MR. MATHIS REPLIED "YES.'

IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE SPACE OFFERED BY MR. MATHIS MET THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND HIS BID WAS ACCEPTED ON JUNE 17, 1957. A LEASE WAS PREPARED AND PRESENTED TO MR. MATHIS FOR EXECUTION. PARAGRAPH 6 OF THE PROPOSED LEASE PROVIDES THAT "THE LESSOR SHALL FURNISH TO THE GOVERNMENT, DURING THE OCCUPANCY OF SAID PREMISES UNDER THE TERMS OF THIS LEASE, AS PART OF THE RENTAL CONSIDERATION, THE FOLLOWING: ELECTRIC CURRENT, HEAT, COLD RUNNING WATER * * *.'

IT IS REPORTED THAT WHEN THE LEASE WAS PRESENTED TO MR. MATHIS FOR SIGNATURE ON OR ABOUT JUNE 25, 1957, HE POINTED OUT THAT THE LEASE PROVIDED FOR HIM TO FURNISH FUEL FOR HEADING AND ELECTRIC CURRENT, WHEREAS IT WAS THE INTENTION OF HIS BID TO FURNISH THE FACILITIES BUT NOT THE UTILITY SERVICES. HE WAS ADVISED THAT HIS BID PROVIDED THAT HE WOULD FURNISH THE UTILITY SERVICES, BUT HE STATED THAT SUCH WAS NOT HIS INTENTION AND HE COULD NOT AFFORD TO RENT THE SPACE ON THAT BASIS FOR THE PRICE QUOTED. MR. MATHIS WAS ADVISED TO DELETE THE PROVISION AS TO FURNISHING THE UTILITIES BEFORE HE SIGNED IT AND TO FURNISH A LETTER GIVING HIS REASONS FOR THE CHANGE. MR. MATHIS DID SO AND ON JUNE 28, 1957, SIGNED THE LEASE AFTER MODIFYING PARAGRAPH 6 TO PROVIDE THAT THE LESSOR WOULD FURNISH "ELECTRIC AND HEATING FIXTURES" RATHER THAN "ELECTRIC CURRENT, HEAT.' THE FOREST SERVICE MOVED INTO THE QUARTERS THE FOLLOWING DAY, AND HAS SINCE INSTALLED AIR CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT.

IN THE LETTER OF JUNE 28, 1957, MR. MATHIS STATES THAT HE MISINTERPRETED THE HEAT AND ELECTRICAL CURRENT ITEMS ON PAGE 4 OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS (FACILITIES DESIRED) AND WAS OF THE OPINION THAT THOSE ITEMS REFERRED ONLY TO THE HEATING FACILITIES AND ELECTRIC OUTLETS MENTIONED IN THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH.

IT IS REPORTED THAT ONE AIR CONDITIONER HAS ALREADY BEEN INSTALLED AND THAT ANOTHER UNIT WILL BE INSTALLED SHORTLY, AND THAT IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THE COST OF ELECTRICITY AND GAS WILL AVERAGE ABOUT $20 PER MONTH, OR ONE- THIRD OF THE QUOTED RENTAL.

WHILE THE PROVISION OF THE SPECIFICATIONS AS TO "FACILITIES DESIRED," READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH "FACILITIES REQUIRED," SEEMS UPON CAREFUL ANALYSIS TO BE INTENDED TO COVER SEPARATE AND DISTINCT ITEMS, THE INTERPRETATION PLACED THEREON BY MR. MATHIS IS UNDERSTANDABLE, AND APPEARS TO BE CONSISTENT WITH THE PRICE QUOTED FOR THE SPACE. ADDITION, HE PROTESTED IMMEDIATELY THE PROVISIONS OF THE PROPOSED LEASE WHEN IT WAS SUBMITTED TO HIM FOR EXECUTION, AND HE DID NOT EXECUTE THE LEASE UNTIL AFTER MODIFYING IT TO PROVIDE THAT THE LESSOR WOULD NOT FURNISH THE UTILITY SERVICES. EVEN IF IT WERE TO BE HELD THAT HE BECAME BOUND BY THE ACCEPTANCE OF HIS BID TO FURNISH HEAT AND ELECTRICITY, WE DO NOT FEEL THAT ELECTRICITY FOR THE AIR CONDITIONERS WOULD BE REQUIRED, AND A MODIFICATION WOULD BE NECESSARY ON THAT ACCOUNT.

IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND IN THE LIGHT OF THE ESTABLISHED PRINCIPLE THAT THE LANGUAGE OF A CONTRACTUAL DOCUMENT IS TO BE CONSTRUED MOST STRONGLY AGAINST THE PARTY WHO DRAFTED IT, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE LEASE AS MODIFIED BY MR. MATHIS MAY BE EXECUTED BY THE GOVERNMENT, IF IT BE DETERMINED THAT THE RENTAL IS FAIR AND REASONABLE FOR THE PREMISES AND SERVICES OFFERED.