B-147627, DEC. 1, 1961

B-147627: Dec 1, 1961

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 17. THE SCHEDULE OF WORK AND MATERIALS REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED OR FURNISHED WAS DIVIDED INTO 16 ITEMS. NINE BIDS WERE RECEIVED. THE LOW BID WAS SUBMITTED BY MR. THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE FOR THE WORK IS $723. YOU STATE THAT WHEN THE BIDS WERE OPENED IT WAS APPARENT THAT THE BID OF MR. HUTCHINS WAS SUBSTANTIALLY OUT OF LINE IN TOTAL AMOUNT FROM OTHER BIDS. WAS CONSIDERABLY LOW IN COMPARISON TO THE UNIT PRICES OF $0.44. THESE COSTS WERE ESTIMATED AS $0.075 PER CUBIC YARD AND HE HAS FURNISHED WORKSHEETS IN SUPPORT THEREOF. HUTCHINS DID NOT MENTION ANY FACTORS WHICH MIGHT HAVE CONTRIBUTED IN THE ALLEGED ERROR. YOU FEEL THAT THE MANNER IN WHICH THE SPECIFICATIONS AND BID SCHEDULE ITEMS WERE SET UP IN THE INVITATION FOR THIS PROJECT MIGHT WELL HAVE HAD SUCH AN EFFECT.

B-147627, DEC. 1, 1961

TO MR. J. F. CAMERON, ACTING REGIONAL ENGINEER AND CONTRACTING OFFICER, BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 17, 1961, FILE 08 71.80, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO THE ACTION TO BE TAKEN WITH REGARD TO THE BID OF MR. SELMAR A. HUTCHINS SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO AN INVITATION FOR BIDS FOR CONSTRUCTING 8.624 MILES OF GRADING, OREGON FORREST HIGHWAY PROJECT 47 -3 (1), NORTH UMPQUA HIGHWAY.

THE INVITATION REQUESTED BIDS--- TO BE OPENED ON NOVEMBER 9, 1961--- FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF GRADING WORK AS INDICATED ABOVE. THE SCHEDULE OF WORK AND MATERIALS REQUIRED TO BE PERFORMED OR FURNISHED WAS DIVIDED INTO 16 ITEMS. NINE BIDS WERE RECEIVED. THE LOW BID WAS SUBMITTED BY MR. SELMAR A. HUTCHINS IN THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF $597,320.30. THE NEXT FOUR LOW BIDS RANGED FROM $680,415 TO $735,129. THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE FOR THE WORK IS $723,950.50.

YOU STATE THAT WHEN THE BIDS WERE OPENED IT WAS APPARENT THAT THE BID OF MR. SELMAR A. HUTCHINS WAS SUBSTANTIALLY OUT OF LINE IN TOTAL AMOUNT FROM OTHER BIDS, BEING $83,094.70, OR 12.2 PERCENT UNDER THE SECOND LOW BIDDER, AND $126,630.20 OR 17.5 PERCENT UNDER THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE. REVIEW OF THE UNIT PRICES BID REVEALED THAT THE PRICE OF $0.385 PER CUBIC YARD BID BY MR. HUTCHINS FOR ITEM 102 (1), UNCLASSIFIED EXCAVATION, WAS CONSIDERABLY LOW IN COMPARISON TO THE UNIT PRICES OF $0.44, $0.51, $0.50 AND $0.52 QUOTED BY THE NEXT FOUR LOW BIDDERS AND THE GOVERNMENT'S ESTIMATE OF $0.53 PER CUBIC YARD.

IN THE AFTERNOON OF NOVEMBER 9, 1961, AND AFTER BID OPENING, MR. HUTCHINS TELEPHONED THE CONTRACTING OFFICE AND STATED THAT HE HAD MADE AN ERROR IN HIS BID AND REQUESTED THAT IT BE WITHDRAWN. IN HIS LETTERS OF NOVEMBER 11 AND 14, 1961, MR. HUTCHINS EXPLAINS THAT HIS PERSONNEL OMITTED, IN PREPARING THE BID, THE COST FOR WATERING, ROLLING AND FINISHING RELATED TO THE ITEM OF UNCLASSIFIED EXCAVATION. THESE COSTS WERE ESTIMATED AS $0.075 PER CUBIC YARD AND HE HAS FURNISHED WORKSHEETS IN SUPPORT THEREOF. YOU STATE THAT ALTHOUGH MR. HUTCHINS DID NOT MENTION ANY FACTORS WHICH MIGHT HAVE CONTRIBUTED IN THE ALLEGED ERROR, YOU FEEL THAT THE MANNER IN WHICH THE SPECIFICATIONS AND BID SCHEDULE ITEMS WERE SET UP IN THE INVITATION FOR THIS PROJECT MIGHT WELL HAVE HAD SUCH AN EFFECT. IN THIS INSTANCE THERE WAS A DEPARTURE FROM THE PROCEDURE FOLLOWED IN PREVIOUS FOREST SERVICE HIGHWAY CONTRACTS IN YOUR AREA IN THAT THE WATERING AND ROLLING REQUIRED IN THE EMBANKMENT CONSTRUCTIONS WERE CONSIDERED AS SUBSIDIARY OBLIGATIONS OF THE CONTRACTOR WHEREAS IN THE STANDARD SPECIFICATIONS THESE ITEMS ARE SET OUT AS SEPARATE ITEMS. THAT THIS DEPARTURE CREATED DOUBT IN THE MINDS OF PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS WAS EVIDENCED BY TELEPHONE CALLS RECEIVED FROM TWO PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS PRIOR TO BID OPENING IN ORDER TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT THE WORK OF WATERING AND ROLLING WAS A SUBSIDIARY OBLIGATION COVERED BY OTHER CONTRACT ITEMS.

THE EVIDENCE IN CONNECTION WITH THE ALLEGED MISTAKE IN BID FOR UNCLASSIFIED EXCAVATION MAY BE REGARDED AS ESTABLISHING THAT A MISTAKE WAS ACTUALLY MADE AND, THEREFORE, THE BID OF MR. HUTCHINS MAY BE DISREGARDED IN MAKING AWARD.

THE BID OF MR. HUTCHINS AND THE ORIGINAL COMPUTATION SHEETS ENCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER ARE RETURNED.