B-141717, APR. 11, 1960

B-141717: Apr 11, 1960

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 16. THERE IS ENCLOSED A COPY OF OUR LETTER OF TODAY TO THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY IN THE MATTER. THE FILE CONCERNING THE PROCUREMENT IS RETURNED. - THE ACCURACY OF WHICH WE ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO PASS ON. WHILE WE HAVE NO QUESTION AS TO THE RIGHT OF GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO UTILIZE THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES. WE NEVERTHELESS MUST EMPHASIZE THE RULE THAT FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE CONGRESS FOR THE PURCHASE OF SUPPLIES FOR GOVERNMENT USE ARE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURE ONLY TO THE EXTENT NECESSARY TO MEET ACTUAL NEEDS. IS NOT AUTHORIZED UNLESS A NEED FOR THE SUPERIOR FEATURE CAN BE REASONABLY ESTABLISHED. IN THIS CONNECTION IT MAY ALSO BE OBSERVED THAT CHANGE IS NOT ALWAYS SYNONYMOUS WITH IMPROVEMENT.

B-141717, APR. 11, 1960

TO HONORABLE SUMNER G. WHITTIER, ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 16, 1960, FROM YOUR CHIEF MEDICAL DIRECTOR, CONCERNING THE PROTEST OF THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, X-RAY DEPARTMENT, RELATIVE TO INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. M6-48 60 ISSUED BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION SUPPLY DEPOT, SOMERVILLE, NEW JERSEY.

THERE IS ENCLOSED A COPY OF OUR LETTER OF TODAY TO THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY IN THE MATTER. THE FILE CONCERNING THE PROCUREMENT IS RETURNED.

IN CONNECTION WITH THE CURRENT REVIEW OF FEDERAL SPECIFICATION GG-X 635, WHICH HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO YOUR AGENCY BY THE STANDARDIZATION DIVISION, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, WE FEEL THAT IT MAY BE HELPFUL IN THE MINIMIZATION OF FUTURE COMPLAINTS TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE LEGAL PRINCIPLES APPLICABLE TO THE PREPARATION OF SPECIFICATIONS FOR SUPPLIES TO BE PURCHASED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

THE STATEMENTS RECEIVED FROM THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY--- THE ACCURACY OF WHICH WE ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO PASS ON--- AS WELL AS SOME OF THE OBSERVATIONS IN DR. MIDDLETON'S LETTER OF FEBRUARY 16, SUGGEST THE POSSIBILITY THAT UNDUE EMPHASIS MAY BE PLACED UPON INCLUSION IN THE SUBJECT SPECIFICATIONS OF THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE FIELD. WHILE WE HAVE NO QUESTION AS TO THE RIGHT OF GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO UTILIZE THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES, PARTICULARLY IN EQUIPMENT USED IN TREATMENT OF THE SICK OR DISABLED, WE NEVERTHELESS MUST EMPHASIZE THE RULE THAT FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE CONGRESS FOR THE PURCHASE OF SUPPLIES FOR GOVERNMENT USE ARE AVAILABLE FOR EXPENDITURE ONLY TO THE EXTENT NECESSARY TO MEET ACTUAL NEEDS. IN OTHER WORDS, PAYMENT OF A HIGHER PRICE FOR AN ITEM BECAUSE OF SOME FEATURE WHICH MAY IN SOME WAY BE SUPERIOR, OR MORE DESIRABLE TO A PARTICULAR USER, IS NOT AUTHORIZED UNLESS A NEED FOR THE SUPERIOR FEATURE CAN BE REASONABLY ESTABLISHED. SEE 20 COMP. GEN. 903.

IN THIS CONNECTION IT MAY ALSO BE OBSERVED THAT CHANGE IS NOT ALWAYS SYNONYMOUS WITH IMPROVEMENT, AND, WHERE THERE EXISTS A SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AMONG INFORMED USERS OF SOME TYPE OF APPARATUS AS TO THE MERITS OF A CERTAIN FEATURE WHICH HASNOT BEEN GENERALLY ADOPTED, WE HAVE SERIOUS QUESTION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF ITS BEING REQUIRED BY A GOVERNMENT SPECIFICATION--- ESPECIALLY IN THE CASE OF A FEDERAL SPECIFICATION WHICH WILL BE BINDING UPON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES IN GENERAL. FURTHERMORE, IF THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF SOME USING AGENCIES DO NOT REQUIRE A PARTICULAR TECHNOLOGICAL FEATURE, CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE GIVEN TO INCLUDING IT IN A GOVERNMENT SPECIFICATION ONLY ON AN OPTIONAL BASIS.

SINCE IT NOW APPEARS THAT AT LEAST ONE OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCY HAS WAIVED THE POWER-ASSISTED POSITIONING FEATURE OF PARAGRAPH 3.4.3.4 OF THE CURRENT SPECIFICATION, WE ARE BY NO MEANS SATISFIED THAT ADEQUATE JUSTIFICATION FOR ITS USE HAS BEEN FURNISHED, ALTHOUGH WE HAVE REFRAINED FROM DISTURBING THE AWARDS MADE ON THE PROCUREMENTS PROTESTED BY GENERAL ELECTRIC. SUGGEST, HOWEVER, THAT IF ADDITIONAL PROCUREMENTS OF SIMILAR EQUIPMENT ARE TO BE MADE BY YOUR AGENCY PENDING COMPLETION OF YOUR REVIEW OF THE SPECIFICATIONS, FURTHER CONSIDERATION BE GIVEN TO THE ACTUAL DEMONSTRABLE NEEDS TO BE MET THEREBY, AND THAT ANY PROTEST RECEIVED IN CONNECTION THEREWITH BE SUBMITTED HERE PRIOR TO AWARD OF A CONTRACT.