B-144157, DEC. 20, 1960

B-144157: Dec 20, 1960

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TO CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 4. THE CLOSING DATE WAS AUGUST 27. TWO AMENDMENTS TO THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL WERE ISSUED PRIOR TO THE CLOSING DATE. THE SPECIFICATIONS ON WHICH OFFERS WERE SOLICITED REQUIRED OFFERORS TO SUBMIT "AN ENGINEERING PROPOSAL OUTLINING THE TYPE OF CIRCUITS TO BE USED. THE INFORMATION WAS TO BE SPECIFIC AND SUFFICIENT TO MAKE A FULL AND COMPLETE EVALUATION OF THE EQUIPMENT PROPOSED TO BE FURNISHED. YOUR PROPOSAL WAS IN THE AMOUNT OF $169. THE NEXT LOW OFFER WAS SUBMITTED BY PACKARD BELL CORPORATION AND WAS IN THE AMOUNT OF $181. A TECHNICAL EVALUATION INDICATED THAT YOUR QUOTATION AND THAT OF THE SECOND LOW BIDDER WERE NONRESPONSIVE IN THAT THE EQUIPMENT PROPOSED TO BE FURNISHED DID NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS.

B-144157, DEC. 20, 1960

TO CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 4, 1960, WITH ENCLOSURE, AND TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 14, 1960, PROTESTING THE REJECTION OF YOUR BID ON REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL NO. 3006 (Q) ISSUED BY THE NAVAL PROPELLANT PLANT, INDIAN HEAD, MARYLAND, ON JULY 12, 1960.

THE SUBJECT REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL SOLICITED PRICES FOR A NEGOTIATED FIXED- PRICE CONTRACT FOR FURNISHING AN AUTOMATIC DATA RECORDING SYSTEM. THE CLOSING DATE WAS AUGUST 27, 1960. TWO AMENDMENTS TO THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL WERE ISSUED PRIOR TO THE CLOSING DATE. THE SPECIFICATIONS ON WHICH OFFERS WERE SOLICITED REQUIRED OFFERORS TO SUBMIT "AN ENGINEERING PROPOSAL OUTLINING THE TYPE OF CIRCUITS TO BE USED, THE SPECIFIC SYSTEM CONCEPTS AND ORGANIZATION TO BE FOLLOWED, SPECIFIC COMMERCIAL EQUIPMENT TO BE FURNISHED AND A COMPLETE AND COMPREHENSIVE OPERATIONAL DESCRIPTION INCLUDING MAJOR TIMING AND CONTROL FUNCTIONAL DETAILS.' THE INFORMATION WAS TO BE SPECIFIC AND SUFFICIENT TO MAKE A FULL AND COMPLETE EVALUATION OF THE EQUIPMENT PROPOSED TO BE FURNISHED. FIVE COMPANIES SUBMITTED OFFERS. YOUR PROPOSAL WAS IN THE AMOUNT OF $169,658. THE NEXT LOW OFFER WAS SUBMITTED BY PACKARD BELL CORPORATION AND WAS IN THE AMOUNT OF $181,200. RADIO CORPORATION OF AMERICA SUBMITTED A BID OF $185,529.

A TECHNICAL EVALUATION INDICATED THAT YOUR QUOTATION AND THAT OF THE SECOND LOW BIDDER WERE NONRESPONSIVE IN THAT THE EQUIPMENT PROPOSED TO BE FURNISHED DID NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS. IT WAS FURTHER DETERMINED THAT NEGOTIATIONS WITH YOUR FIRM AND THE SECOND LOW BIDDER WOULD SERVE NO USEFUL PURPOSE AS THE AREAS IN WHICH THE SPECIFICATIONS WERE NOT MET WERE MAJOR AREAS, AND WERE NOT MINOR DEVIATIONS, OMISSIONS OR MISTAKES. AWARD WAS MADE TO RADIO CORPORATION OF AMERICA, THE LOWEST BIDDER CONSIDERED AS MEETING ALL THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS.

YOU WERE NOTIFIED ON SEPTEMBER 28, 1960, OF THE DECISION TO AWARD THE CONTRACT TO RCA. UPON YOUR REQUEST A CONFERENCE WAS HELD BY YOUR REPRESENTATIVES WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICE ON OCTOBER 3, 1960, AT WHICH TIME YOU WERE ADVISED OF THE REASONS AS TO WHY YOUR BID WAS NOT ACCEPTED.

WITH YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 4, 1960, TO OUR OFFICE YOU ENCLOSED A COPY OF A LETTER TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICE OF THE SAME DATE, STATING THAT THE INTERPRETATIONS OF YOUR TECHNICAL PROPOSAL WERE COMPLETELY ERRONEOUS. YOU SET OUT IN CONSIDERABLE DETAIL YOUR REPLY TO EACH TECHNICAL OBJECTION FURNISHED YOU AT THE CONFERENCE ON OCTOBER 3, 1960. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER HAS CONSIDERED YOUR REPLY AND HAS OFFERED DETAILED COMMENTS THEREON. HE HAS POINTED OUT THAT THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION CONSTITUTED THE ENTIRE REASON FOR NOT AWARDING THE CONTRACT TO YOU AND THAT THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE PROPOSALS OFFERED WERE TECHNICALLY RESPONSIVE WAS NOT ONLY EVALUATED BY THE NAVAL PROPELLANT PLANT PERSONNEL BUT ALSO BY AN INDEPENDENT COMMERCIAL ELECTRONICS FIRM UNDER A CONSULTANT CONTRACT.

IN REGARD TO YOUR CONTENTION THAT YOU WERE NOT CONTACTED ON ANY POINTS PRIOR TO THE AWARD OF THE CONTRACT, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER HAS POINTED OUT THAT PARAGRAPH 1.6 OF THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL PROVIDED THAT THE INFORMATION FURNISHED SHOULD BE SPECIFIC AND SUFFICENT TO MAKE A FULL AND COMPLETE EVALUATION OF THE EQUIPMENT THE CONTRACTOR PROPOSES TO FURNISH. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER ALSO HAS REPORTED THAT A CONFERENCE WAS ARRANGED 16 DAYS AFTER PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS WERE FURNISHED COPIES OF SPECIFICATIONS IN ORDER TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS THAT HAD ARISEN AND TO EXPLAIN OR AMPLIFY ANY MATTER IN REGARD TO THE WRITTEN PROPOSAL. THE ENTIRE SPECIFICATIONS WERE DISCUSSED "PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH" AND ALL QUESTIONS ASKED WERE ANSWERED AT THE TIME. YOUR REPRESENTATIVES WERE PRESENT BUT IT IS STATED THAT A REVIEW OF THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE MEETING FAILS TO REVEAL THAT THEY PRESENTED ANY QUESTIONS IN REGARD TO THE SPECIFICATIONS. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER HAS REPORTED FURTHER, AS FOLLOWS:

"A PREVIOUS RFQ 205-Q DATED 4 AUGUST 1959 HAD BEEN ISSUED BY NAVAL PROPELLANT PLANT TO THE SAME BIDDERS. THE REQUIREMENTS WERE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME, EXCEPT RFQ 3006-Q IS A LESS SOPHISTICATED SYSTEM. HOWEVER, THE DIGITAL LOGIC SECTION IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS IN THE PREVIOUS SPECIFICATION. AT THE TIME RFQ 205-Q WAS IN PROCESS OF PROCUREMENT, THE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS WERE LESSENED BY REDUCING THE NUMBER OF DATA CHANNELS REQUIRED. IN THIS CONNECTION A REQUEST FOR REVISED QUOTATION WAS SENT OUT. AT THE SAME TIME CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION WAS ALSO ASKED FOR CLARIFICATION OF A PORTION OF THE DIGITAL LOGIC SECTION. INSTEAD OF CLARIFYING THE LOGIC PRESENTED IN THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL, CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION SUBMITTED AN ENTIRELY NEW CONCEPT, STATING THAT THE FIRST ONE "MIGHT PROVE SOMEWHAT BURDENSOME.' THE SECOND PROPOSAL CONTAINED A CONCEPT WHICH WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM THE FIRST PROPOSAL AND NEITHER OF THE CONCEPTS WERE WORKABLE. THE PROPOSAL OF CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION IN ANSWER TO RFQ 3006-Q DID NOT MEET REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATION IN THIS PORTION OF THE LOGIC. AS IT NOW STANDS, CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION HAS HAD THREE OPPORTUNITIES AT DESIGNING THIS PORTION OF THE SYSTEM, AND HAS NOT SUBMITTED A PROPOSAL AT ANY TIME WHICH IS CONSIDERED WORKABLE. IN THE OPINION OF THE CONTRACTING PERSONNEL AT THE NAVAL PROPELLANT PLANT, NO USEFUL PURPOSE WOULD HAVE BEEN SERVED IN ALLOWING CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION TO AGAIN ATTEMPT TO REDESIGN THE SYSTEM TO MEET REQUIREMENTS.

"CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION WOULD HAVE BEEN APPROACHED FOR CLARIFICATION IF CLARIFICATION WERE ALL THAT WAS REQUIRED. AFTER THOROUGH EVALUATION, IT BECAME APPARENT THAT IN ORDER TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE QUOTATION, THE CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION SYSTEM WOULD REQUIRE A BASIC REDESIGN RATHER THAN CLARIFICATION. THE SPECIFICATIONS IN OUR QUOTATION WERE SUFFICIENTLY CLEAR, PRECISE, AND DETAILED TO PERMIT OTHER BIDDERS TO SUBMIT WORKABLE SYSTEMS WITHOUT FURTHER NEGOTIATION.'

AS TO YOUR STATEMENT THAT ALL BIDDERS, AS FAR AS PURCHASED MAJOR COMPONENTS WERE NCERNED,"PROPOSED USING THE EXACT MANUFACTURERS AND MODEL NUMBERS SPECIFIED," IT IS TRUE THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS SPECIFIED PARTICULAR MANUFACTURERS AND MODEL NUMBERS OR EQUIVALENT, BUT IT WAS FELT THAT THE DESIGN OF THE LOGIC CIRCUITS AND NECESSARY CONNECTING ELECTRONICS WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT PHASE OF THE SYSTEM AND THE EVALUATION WAS MADE ON THIS BASIS. AS TO YOUR CONTENTION THAT THE RCA PROPOSAL DID NOT OFFER FEATURES ABOVE THOSE REQUIRED BY A MINIMUM RESPONSE TO THE INVOLVED SPECIFICATION, THIS MATTER HAS NO PARTICULAR SIGNIFICANCE SINCE EACH PROPOSAL WAS COMPLETELY EVALUATED WITH THE VIEW OF OBTAINING A COMPLETE AND WORKABLE SYSTEM AT THE LOWEST POSSIBLE COST. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER IN EVALUATING YOUR PROPOSAL CONCLUDED THAT IT DID NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS "BY A WIDE MARGIN.'

IT IS YOUR CONTENTION THAT WHEN YOU LEARNED OF THE INTENDED AWARD TO RCA, YOU REQUESTED AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE CONTRACTING OFFICE TO DISCUSS THE CONTEMPLATED AWARD BUT THAT A MEETING WAS NOT ARRANGED UNTIL AFTER THE AWARD WAS MADE. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER REPORTS THAT YOUR PROPOSAL CONTAINED MAJOR DEVIATIONS FROM THE SPECIFICATIONS AND THEREFORE NO USEFUL PURPOSE WOULD HAVE BEEN SERVED IN REVIEWING YOUR OFFER WITH YOUR REPRESENTATIVES.

ASIDE FROM THE GENERAL POINTS RAISED IN YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 4, 1960, TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICE YOU REFERRED TO THE SPECIFIC OBJECTIONS MADE TO YOUR TECHNICAL PROPOSAL AND WHICH YOU ALLEGE CONSTITUTED THE COMPLETE BASIS FOR REJECTION. IN HIS STATEMENT OF FACTS THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CONSIDERED THE MATTERS REFERRED TO BY YOU AND CONFIRMED THE OBJECTIONS TO YOUR PROPOSAL, AS FOLLOWS:

"PARAGRAPH SIX, ITEM C OF CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION LETTER STATED "AS A RESULT OF (A) ABOVE, IT WAS ALSO CLAIMED THAT THE TAPE FORMAT SHOWN IN FIGURE 4 OF OUR PROPOSAL WOULD RESULT IN AN INCOMPATIBLE SCANNING PROGRAM.' THIS WAS NOT SO STATED BY NAVAL PROPELLANT PLANT PERSONNEL. THE STATEMENT WAS THAT THE TAPE FORMAT ILLUSTRATED IN FIGURE 4 OF REFERENCE (B) DID NOT AGREE WITH THE TEXT NOR DID IT AGREE WITH THE PROPOSED SAMPLING RATE. A 15KC SAMPLING RATE AND A PACKING DENSITY OF 333 BITS PER INCH WAS INDICATED BY CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION. THESE TWO ARE INCOMPATIBLE.

"A STATEMENT IN PARAGRAPH 7 REFERRED TO THE TWO (2) 8-BIT LINES. IT IS STATED THAT THESE ARE REDUNDANT GROUPS RECORDED IN PARALLEL ACROSS THE MAGNETIC TAPE AND THAT TWO SUCCESSIVE GROUPS WILL BE RECONSTRUCTED FOR THE BINARY TO DECIMAL CONVERSION. IF THIS BE TRUE, ADDITIONAL LOGIC CIRCUITS ARE REQUIRED AND THIS LEADS TO AN UNNECESSARILY COMPLEX SYSTEM SINCE THE 12-BIT WORD IS AVAILABLE IN A PRIOR REGISTER. THIS ALSO DECREASES THE RELIABILITY OF THE SYSTEM AND INCREASES THE MAINTENANCE BECAUSE OF ADDITIONAL ELECTRONIC CIRCUITS.

"IN PARAGRAPH 7 IT IS ALSO STATED THAT THE "DECIMAL DISPLAY WILL INCLUDE FOUR DECIMAL DIGITS PLUS ONE SIGN INDICATOR. THIS RESOLUTION WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE UNLESS THE COMPLETE DATA WORD WERE USED FOR CONVERSION.' THIS IS OBVIOUSLY NOT TRUE. THE HIGHER ORDER BIT REQUIRES FOUR DECIMAL DIGITS FOR READOUT BUT THE LOW ORDER BIT ONLY REQUIRES TWO. THEREFORE, THE FOUR DECIMAL DIGITS DO NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THAT THE ENTIRE WORK WILL BE RESOLVED. THE DEFINITION OF THE LOW AND HIGH ORDER BITS WAS DEFINED AT THE BIDDERS' CONFERENCE.

"WITH REGARD TO STATEMENTS IN PARAGRAPHS 9, 10, AND 11, THE NAVAL PROPELLANT PLANT SPECIFICATIONS ARE NOT IN CONFLICT AND IT IS POSSIBLE TO DESIGN A SYSTEM THAT WILL NOT LOSE 15 DATA SAMPLES AT ONE TIME AND WILL REMAIN SYMMETRICAL. AS PROOF OF THIS, THE SYSTEM DESIGNED AND INSTALLED BY INTERSTATE ELECTRONICS ON THE PREVIOUS CONTRACT DOES MEET THE SPECIFIC OBJECTION RAISED BY CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION GIVING EXACTLY WHAT WAS ASKED FOR IN THE FIRST RFQ. AS INDICATED IN PREVIOUS PARAGRAPHS THIS IS THE REQUIREMENT OF THIS SPECIFICATION.

"IN PARAGRAPH 10, CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION LETTER STATES IN APPARENT.' IF A CONFLICT IN SPECIFICATIONS WAS APPARENT, WHY WAS CLARIFICATION NOT REQUESTED AT THE OFFERORS' CONFERENCE? PRIOR TO THE TIME OF THE OFFERORS' CONFERENCE EACH BIDDER HAD SIXTEEN DAYS IN WHICH TO EXAMINE THE PROPOSAL AND ASK FOR CLARIFICATION. AT NO TIME PRIOR TO THE BID OPENING (FORTY-SIX (46) DAYS) WERE ANY QUESTIONS ASKED BY CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION THAT PERTAINED TO CLARIFICATION OF SPECIFICATIONS.

"AGAIN, IN REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPHS 12, 13, AND 14, OF CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION LETTER, NAVAL PROPELLANT PLANT EMPHASIZES THAT:

"A. THE 315 COUNTER PROPOSED RESULTS IN LOSS OF BLOCKS OF DATA, FURNISHES NON-SYMMETRICAL DATA, AND BECOMES A SERIOUS TIMING PROBLEM SINCE IT WOULD TAKE LONGER THAN THE 20 MILLISECONDS ALLOTTED. THIS IS CAUSED BY THE EXTRA 15 SAMPLES INSERTED BY THE CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION PROPOSAL.

"B. THE TAPE FORMAT DOES NOT ILLUSTRATE THE SYSTEM PROPOSED SINCE IT CANNOT ATTAIN THE 333 BIT PACKING DENSITY AS ILLUSTRATED IN FIGURE 4.

"C. IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO CHANGE THE 15 KC SAMPLING RATE. THERE IS NO CONFLICT IN THE SPECIFICATIONS.

"D. THE SOLUTION PROPOSED BY CONSOLIDATED AVIONICS CORPORATION IS NOT THE BEST SOLUTION AND, IN FACT, DOES NOT MEET THE OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS NOR DOES IT MEET THE NAVAL PROPELLANT PLANT SPECIFICATIONS.'

IN YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 14, 1960, YOU STATE THAT YOU CAN FURNISH EVIDENCE OF A "TECHNICAL PANEL" THAT YOUR PROPOSAL WAS RESPONSIVE, ALTHOUGH, AS STATED ABOVE, THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE REPORTS THAT IN ORDER TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE QUOTATION YOUR SYSTEM WOULD REQUIRE A BASIC REDESIGN RATHER THAN CLARIFICATION. OUR OFFICE DOES NOT HAVE A "TECHNICAL PANEL" TO DETERMINE THE CORRECTNESS OF YOUR CONTENTION. AND IT IS NOT READILY DETERMINABLE WHETHER THE AREA IN WHICH YOU DID NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS IS MAJOR IN NATURE. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE MUST NECESSARILY ACCEPT THE REPORT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE THAT THE SYSTEM YOU PROPOSED DID NOT MEET THE REQUIREMENTS AND THAT IN ORDER TO MEET THE INVOLVED REQUIREMENTS IT WOULD HAVE REQUIRED A REDESIGN OF YOUR PROPOSED SYSTEM.

IN THE MATTER OF NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENTS THE RULES OF FORMALLY ADVERTISED COMPETITIVE BIDDING DO NOT APPLY, AND THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS UPON WHICH PROPOSALS ARE REQUESTED AND THE SELECTION OF CONTRACTORS ARE DETERMINED ARE MATTERS FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE CONCERNED IN THE EXERCISE OF ITS BEST JUDGMENT AS TO THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT.

THE CONTRACTING AGENCY HAS DETERMINED THAT THE AWARD TO RCA WAS PROPER SINCE IT WAS THE LOWEST BIDDER WHO MET ALL THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS. IN VIEW OF THE WIDE DISCRETION VESTED IN ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS IN NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENTS, AND SINCE IT IS NOT SHOWN THAT THESE OFFICIALS FAILED TO EXERCISE THEIR BEST JUDGMENT IN MAKING THE AWARD, WE DO NOT FEEL THAT THE FAILURE TO AWARD THE CONTRACT TO YOUR FIRM WAS IMPROPER.