B-144573, JAN. 31, 1961

B-144573: Jan 31, 1961

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TO PLASTEEL PRODUCTS CORPORATION: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED DECEMBER 2. BIDS WERE INVITED BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) ON PROJECT NO. 49248 WITH DECEMBER 6. PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS FOR THIS PROJECT WERE PREPARED BY MILLS. THE PROJECT WAS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CENTRAL EQUIPMENT BUILDING AND TWO MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT BUILDINGS WITHIN THE COURTS OF THE EXISTING STRUCTURE. ALL THREE BUILDINGS ARE TO BE OF STEEL FRAME. THIS MATERIAL IS SPECIFIED IN THE JOB SPECIFICATION UNDER SECTION 27. IT WAS THEREFORE REQUESTED THAT AN ADDENDUM TO THE SPECIFICATION BE ISSUED TO PERMIT USE OF "PLASTEEL.'. WE UNDERSTAND THAT GSA CONTRACT ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS ARE INSTRUCTED NOT TO SPECIFY A PROPRIETARY MATERIAL IN ANY CASE WHERE MORE THAN ONE SUCH MATERIAL MAY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE PROJECT.

B-144573, JAN. 31, 1961

TO PLASTEEL PRODUCTS CORPORATION:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED DECEMBER 2, 1960, PROTESTING AGAINST THE RESTRICTIVE CHARACTER OF SECTION 27 OF THE SPECIFICATIONS PREPARED FOR PROJECT NO. 49248, ALTERATIONS AND ADDITIONS TO THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION.

ON OCTOBER 25, 1960, BIDS WERE INVITED BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) ON PROJECT NO. 49248 WITH DECEMBER 6, 1960, AS THE BID OPENING DATE. PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS FOR THIS PROJECT WERE PREPARED BY MILLS, PETTICORD AND MILLS, ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS, OF WASHINGTON, C., UNDER A PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONTRACT WITH THE PUBLIC BUILDINGS SERVICE, GSA. THE PROJECT WAS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CENTRAL EQUIPMENT BUILDING AND TWO MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT BUILDINGS WITHIN THE COURTS OF THE EXISTING STRUCTURE. IN ORDER TO DECREASE SOIL PRESSURES AND AVOID HEAVY FOUNDATIONS, ALL THREE BUILDINGS ARE TO BE OF STEEL FRAME, ENCLOSED WITH INSULATED CORRUGATED METAL SIDING. THIS MATERIAL IS SPECIFIED IN THE JOB SPECIFICATION UNDER SECTION 27,"INSULATED CORRUGATED METAL SIDING.'

UNDER DATE OF NOVEMBER 25, 1960, YOUR DISTRICT MANAGER AT BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, ADDRESSED A LETTER TO GSA INDICATING THAT SECTION 27 APPEARED TO BE A PROPRIETARY SPECIFICATION IN THAT IT PERMITTED THE USE OF ONLY ONE TYPE OF PROTECTED METAL. IT WAS THEREFORE REQUESTED THAT AN ADDENDUM TO THE SPECIFICATION BE ISSUED TO PERMIT USE OF "PLASTEEL.' WE UNDERSTAND THAT GSA CONTRACT ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS ARE INSTRUCTED NOT TO SPECIFY A PROPRIETARY MATERIAL IN ANY CASE WHERE MORE THAN ONE SUCH MATERIAL MAY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE PROJECT. IN DRAFTING SECTION 27 OF THE SPECIFICATIONS FOR THIS PROJECT, HOWEVER, THE CONTRACT ARCHITECT SPECIFIED A CERTAIN CORRUGATED STEEL SIDING WHICH IS PRODUCED BY FUSING A COATING OF MOLTEN ZINC TO A STEEL SHEET AND THEN PRESSING A SHEET OF ASBESTOS FELT INTO THE ZINC WHILE IT IS STILL IN THE MOLTEN STATE. THIS IS THE PROCESS USED BY THE H. H. ROBERTSON COMPANY IN THE MANUFACTURE OF ITS SIDING KNOWN AS ,GALBESTOS.'

AS A RESULT OF YOUR NOVEMBER 25 LETTER, GSA CONCLUDED THAT ITS SPECIFICATION FOR ASBESTOS-COVERED STEEL WAS RESTRICTIVE IN THAT IT LIMITED COMPETITION TO THE PRODUCT "GALBESTOS" OF ONE COMPANY. CONSEQUENTLY, THE SPECIFICATION WAS AMENDED BY ADDENDUM NO. 2 OF NOVEMBER 28, 1960, REMOVING THE RESTRICTIVE FEATURES AND PERMITTING COMPETITION WITH THE ONLY OTHER KNOWN ASBESTOS-COVERED STEEL PRODUCT, "STEELBESTOS," MANUFACTURED BY THE AMERICAN STEEL BAND COMPANY. THIS MANUFACTURER USES A RESINOUS BINDER BETWEEN THE STEEL AND THE ASBESTOS, IN LIEU OF THE ZINC. HOWEVER, THE SPECIFICATION WAS NOT EXPENDED TO PERMIT COMPETITION BY YOUR PRODUCT,"PLASTEEL," WHICH IS NOT AN ASBESTOS-COVERED STEEL, BUT AN ASPHALT -COVERED STEEL. IN VIEW OF THE SHORT LAPSE OF TIME BETWEEN NOVEMBER 25 AND THE DATE SET FOR BID OPENING, A TECHNICAL EVALUATION OF "PLASTEEL" WAS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WHETHER IT WAS ADEQUATE TO MEET THE GOVERNMENT'S MINIMUM NEEDS FOR A PROTECTED METAL. ALTHOUGH YOUR MR. HARTMAN HAD ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS IN THE PAST TWO YEARS URGED THE ADVANTAGES OF "PLASTEEL," GSA'S REQUIREMENTS FOR ANY PROTECTED METAL HAVE BEEN SO VERY FEW THAT THEY WERE NOT THOUGHT TO WARRANT THE TIME AND EXPENSE INVOLVED TO DETERMINE THE MERITS OF "PLASTEEL" FOR USE GENERALLY WHEN PROTECTED METAL IS DESIRED. WHILE THE DATE SET FOR BID OPENING POSSIBLY COULD HAVE BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL AN EVALUATION OF "PLASTEEL" HAD BEEN MADE, A POSTPONEMENT FOR THIS PURPOSE WAS NOT BELIEVED WARRANTED IN THE LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT THE COST OF PROTECTED METAL WAS ONLY A SMALL FRACTION--- POSSIBLY ONE-HALF OF 1 PERCENT--- OF THE TOTAL COST OF THE BUILDING, AND SINCE THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION URGENTLY DESIRED THE CONTRACT TO BE EXECUTED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE BELIEVE THAT THE RESTRICTIVE CHARACTER OF SECTION 27 OF THE SPECIFICATIONS WAS SUBSTANTIALLY REMOVED BY ADDENDUM NO. 2, AND WHILE USE OF YOUR PRODUCT WAS PRECLUDED UNDER SUCH SPECIFICATIONS, WE ARE OF THE VIEW THAT THE EXIGENCY OF THE PROJECT EFFECTIVELY PRECLUDED FURTHER RELAXATION OF THE SPECIFICATIONS. HOWEVER, WE ARE ADVISED THAT GSA WILL, IN THE NEAR FUTURE, DEVELOP A STOCK SPECIFICATION FOR PROTECTED METAL WHICH WILL PERMIT ,PLASTEEL" TO COMPETE WITH ASBESTOS-COVERED SIDING, PROVIDED, OF COURSE, THAT GSA DETERMINES THAT "PLASTEEL" IS COMPARABLE TO ASBESTOS-COVERED STEEL WITH RESPECT TO ANY FUTURE NEEDS THE AGENCY MAY HAVE FOR PROTECTED METAL.