B-149540, AUG. 13, 1962

B-149540: Aug 13, 1962

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TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED JULY 25. THE SUBJECT INVITATION REQUESTED BIDS FOR FURNISHING AN ESTIMATED QUANTITY OF WIRE ROPE OF A CERTAIN SPECIFICATION FOR DELIVERY IN ACCORDANCE WITH CALLS TO BE ISSUED BY THE GOVERNMENT AS REQUIREMENTS ARE GENERATED DURING THE ONE-YEAR CONTRACT PERIOD. BIDS WERE REQUESTED UNDER FOUR ITEMS SET FORTH ON PAGES 1. BIDDERS WERE REQUESTED TO INSERT UNIT PRICES FOR THE VARIOUS QUANTITIES THAT MIGHT BE ORDERED BY THE GOVERNMENT UNDER ANY CALL ORDER ISSUED FOR ANY QUANTITY WITHIN 5 INCREMENTS. THE FIRST INCREMENT WAS FOR CALLS FROM 351. 000 FEET AND THE LAST INCREMENT WAS FOR CALLS OF 1. THE ESTIMATED QUANTITY FOR ITEM 1B WAS STATED AS 202.

B-149540, AUG. 13, 1962

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED JULY 25, 1962, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE DEPUTY CHIEF, PROCUREMENT OPERATIONS DIVISION, DIRECTOR OF PROCUREMENT MANAGEMENT, DCS/S AND L, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION CONCERNING A PROCUREMENT ACTION AT MOBILE AIR MATERIEL AREA, BROOKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, ALABAMA, UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. 01-601-62-1267 ISSUED ON APRIL 16, 1962.

THE SUBJECT INVITATION REQUESTED BIDS FOR FURNISHING AN ESTIMATED QUANTITY OF WIRE ROPE OF A CERTAIN SPECIFICATION FOR DELIVERY IN ACCORDANCE WITH CALLS TO BE ISSUED BY THE GOVERNMENT AS REQUIREMENTS ARE GENERATED DURING THE ONE-YEAR CONTRACT PERIOD. BIDS WERE REQUESTED UNDER FOUR ITEMS SET FORTH ON PAGES 1, 2 AND 3 OF THE SCHEDULE. ITEM 1A PROVIDES FOR FURNISHING AN ESTIMATED QUANTITY OF 4,882,500 FEET OF WIRE ROPE, F.O.B. DESTINATION, ANY OR ALL POINTS, AT THE OPTION OF THE GOVERNMENT, WITHIN A NUMBER OF STATES LISTED THEREIN. BIDDERS WERE REQUESTED TO INSERT UNIT PRICES FOR THE VARIOUS QUANTITIES THAT MIGHT BE ORDERED BY THE GOVERNMENT UNDER ANY CALL ORDER ISSUED FOR ANY QUANTITY WITHIN 5 INCREMENTS. THE FIRST INCREMENT WAS FOR CALLS FROM 351,000 FEET TO 702,000 FEET AND THE LAST INCREMENT WAS FOR CALLS OF 1,988,001 FEET OR MORE.

ITEMS 1B AND 1C MADE SIMILAR PROVISIONS WITH RESPECT TO DELIVERIES F.O.B. DESTINATIONS WITHIN OTHER STATES AND REQUESTED PRICES FOR MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM QUANTITY CALL ORDERS THAT MIGHT BE ISSUED BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR THESE OTHER DESTINATIONS. THE ESTIMATED QUANTITY FOR ITEM 1B WAS STATED AS 202,500 FEET WITH 5 INCREMENTS RANGING FROM 13,500 TO 27,000 FEET FOR THE FIRST INCREMENT AND 121,501 OR MORE FOR THE LAST. ITEM 1C SET FORTH AN ESTIMATED QUANTITY OF 918,000 FEET WITH 5 INCREMENTS RANGING FROM 67,500 TO 135,000 FEET FOR THE FIRST INCREMENT AND 576,001 OR MORE FOR THE LAST.

ITEM 1D PROVIDED FOR AN ALTERNATE BID ON THE CUMULATIVE REQUIREMENTS SET FORTH UNDER ITEMS 1A, 1B AND 1C FOR DELIVERIES AT ANY POINT IN THE ENTIRE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, EXCLUDING ALASKA AND HAWAII. THE ESTIMATED QUANTITY OF ITEM 1D WAS SHOWN AS 6,003,000 FEET AND THE QUANTITIES FOR INDIVIDUAL CALLS, AGAIN GROUPED IN 5 INCREMENTS, PROVIDED FOR CALL ORDERS OF 432,000 TO 864,000 FEET IN THE FIRST INCREMENT TO 2,695,501 OR MORE FOR THE FIFTH INCREMENT.

THE INVITATION CONTAINS ADDITIONAL DETAILED TERMS AND CONDITIONS WITH RESPECT TO DELIVERY WHICH ARE SET FORTH IN PROVISION V, PAGE 12, OF THE SCHEDULE. THAT PROVISION PROVIDES, IN FULL, AS FOLLOWS:

"V. DELIVERY:

"DELIVERY FOR ANY CONTRACT (CALL) RESULTING FROM THIS INVITATION HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO MEAN DELIVERY TO DESTINATION SPECIFIED IN THE CALL.

"DELIVERY OF THE ITEMS SPECIFIED HEREIN IS DESIRED ON OR BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE TIME SPECIFIED BELOW:

"EACH CALL TO BE COMPLETED AT THE FOLLOWING RATES PER EACH THIRTY (30) CALENDAR-DAY PERIOD WITH THE FIRST PERIOD COMMENCING THIRTY (30) CALENDAR- DAYS AFTER RECEIPT BY THE CONTRACTOR OF CALL; HOWEVER,

IN NO CASE SHALL THE CONTRACTOR'S DELIVERY EXCEED THE QUANTITIES SPECIFIED IN THE INDIVIDUAL CALLS.

"IN THE EVENT THAT ACCUMULATION OF CALLS OR REQUIREMENTS FOR ANY PARTICULAR ITEM WOULD REQUIRE DELIVERY EXCEEDING THE BELOW RATES PER EACH THIRTY (30) CALENDAR-DAY PERIOD, DELIVERY THEREOF SHALL BE AUTOMATICALLY EXTENDED AT THE RATES OF 30,000, 30,000, 120,000, AND 180,000 FEET RESPECTIVELY PER EACH THIRTY (30) CALENDAR-DAY PERIOD UNLESS OTHERWISE AGREED TO BETWEEN THE CONTRACTOR AND THE GOVERNMENT. CHART "ITEM FIRST PERIOD SECOND PERIOD

1A 1,426,500 FT. 1,426,500 FT.

1B 58,500 FT. 58,500 FT.

1C 270,000 FT. 270,000 FT.

1D 1,755,000 FT. 1,755,000 FT.

"THE CONTRACTOR IS AUTHORIZED TO EXCEED THE DELIVERY RATE, OR TO COMPLETE PERFORMANCE OF THIS CONTRACT PRIOR TO THE TIME THEREFOR, SET FORTH IN THE SCHEDULE, PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN SHALL OBLIGATE THE GOVERNMENT TO PERFORM ANY OF ITS OBLIGATIONS TO THE CONTRACTOR AT AN EARLIER DATE THAN IS SET FORTH IN THIS CONTRACT IN ORDER TO ASSIST THE CONTRACTOR TO MAKE DELIVERIES ON AN ACCELERATED BASIS.

"IF THE BIDDER IS UNABLE TO MEET THE ABOVE DELIVERY SCHEDULE HE MAY WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO EVALUATION OF HIS BID, SET FORTH BELOW THE DELIVERY SCHEDULE HE IS PREPARED TO MEET; PROVIDED, IN NO EVENT SHALL THE BIDDER'S PROPOSED DELIVERY SCHEDULE EXTEND BEYOND THE TIME SPECIFIED BELOW AS BIDS PROPOSING DELIVERY AFTER THAT PERIOD WILL BE CONSIDERED NON-RESPONSIVE TO THE INVITATION AND WILL BE REJECTED.

"EACH CALL TO BE COMPLETED AT THE ABOVE RATES PER EACH THIRTY (30) CALENDAR-DAY PERIOD WITH FIRST PERIOD COMMENCING SIXTY (60) CALENDAR DAYS AFTER RECEIPT BY THE CONTRACTOR OF THE CALL.

"IF THE BIDDER DOES NOT STATE A DIFFERENT DELIVERY SCHEDULE, THE GOVERNMENT'S DESIRED DELIVERY SCHEDULE, STATED ABOVE, WILL APPLY.

"BIDDERS' PROPOSED DELIVERY SCHEDULE:

"EACH CALL TO BE COMPLETED AT THE ABOVE RATES PER EACH THIRTY (30) CALENDAR-DAY PERIOD WITH THE FIRST PERIOD COMMENCING--------CALENDAR DAYS AFTER RECEIPT BY THE CONTRACTOR OF THE CALL.'

THE BID ABSTRACT SHOWS THAT 60 BIDDERS WERE SOLICITED ON THE INVITATION AND THAT TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED. BOTH BIDDERS BID UNIFORM UNIT PRICES FOR ALL ITEMS. BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY, LODI, NEW JERSEY, SUBMITTED THE LOWER BID PRICE OF ?058 PER FOOT. HACKENSACK CABLE CORPORATION, HACKENSACK, NEW JERSEY, BID A PRICE OF ?0595 PER FOOT. HOWEVER, OPPOSITE THE STATEMENT "BIDDERS' PROPOSED DELIVERY SCHEDULE" APPEARING IN PROVISION V OF THE SCHEDULE, QUOTED ABOVE, BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY INSERTED THE FOLLOWING: "200,000 FEET PER MONTH.' THE HACKENSACK CABLE CORPORATION LEFT THE SPACE AFTER THE SAME STATEMENT BLANK.

IN HIS LETTER OF JULY 25, 1962, THE DEPUTY CHIEF, PROCUREMENT OPERATIONS DIVISION, STATES THAT A QUESTION HAS BEEN RAISED WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT AS TO WHETHER THE INSERTION OF THE LANGUAGE ,200,000 FEET PER MONTH" BY THE LOW BIDDER MUST BE CONSTRUED AS OFFERING TO DELIVER ONLY 200,000 FEET OF WIRE ROPE PER MONTH AS AGAINST A MINIMUM DELIVERY OF AS MUCH AS 1,755,100 FEET PER MONTH REQUIRED FOR ITEM 1D AND THEREFORE RENDERS THE BID NONRESPONSIVE. IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT ORDINARILY IT WOULD APPEAR THAT A LITERAL READING OF THE BID INDICATES A PROPOSED DELIVERY SCHEDULE WHICH DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS OF THE INVITATION AND THAT REJECTION OF THE BID AS NONRESPONSIVE IS REQUIRED. HOWEVER, IT IS CONTENDED THAT IN THE FACE OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS (PROVISION S, PAGE 11 OF THE SCHEDULE) AS TO THE SIZE OF THE ANTICIPATED CALL ORDERS WHICH, WITH RESPECT TO ITEM 1D, RANGE FROM 432,000 TO 2,002,500 FEET, THE SIZE OF THE QUANTITIES SET FORTH IN THE GOVERNMENT'S DESIRED DELIVERY SCHEDULE FOR A 30-DAY PERIOD WHICH, WITH RESPECT TO ITEM 1D, IS 1,755,000 FEET, AND THE TOTAL ESTIMATED QUANTITY OF 6,003,000 FEET TO BE DELIVERED DURING THE ONE-YEAR CONTRACT PERIOD, IT IS DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE THAT THE BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY ACTUALLY PROPOSES TO DELIVER ONLY 200,000 FEET OF CABLE PER MONTH. IT IS REPORTED THAT THE BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY HAS STATED THAT THE 200,000 FEET PER MONTH FIGURE REFERS TO QUANTITIES UP TO 180,000 FEET PER MONTH THAT WILL RESULT IN AUTOMATIC EXTENSIONS OF DELIVERY RATES IF THE ACCUMULATION OF CALLS OR REQUIREMENTS WILL EXCEED THE SPECIFIED MONTHLY DELIVERY COMMITMENT SET FORTH IN THE GOVERNMENT'S DESIRED DELIVERY SCHEDULE. FURTHERMORE, AS A RESULT OF A FACILITY CAPABILITY SURVEY, THE CAPABILITY OF THE BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY TO PERFORM THE PROPOSED CONTRACT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT'S DESIRED DELIVERY SCHEDULES HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED.

IN CONCLUSION THE DEPUTY CHIEF, PROCUREMENT OPERATIONS DIVISION, STATES THAT IN HIS OPINION THERE IS SOME BASIS FOR MAINTAINING THAT AN EXAMINATION OF THE BID ALONE IS SUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH THAT THE FIGURE OF 200,000 FEET PER MONTH USED BY THE BIDDER DOES NOT APPLY TO THE MINIMUM MONTHLY DELIVERIES REQUIRED UNDER THE GOVERNMENT'S DESIRED DELIVERY SCHEDULE AND THAT IT COULD ALSO BE ARGUED THE ERROR IS SO OBVIOUS THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER MAY DISREGARD THIS NOTATION AND CONSIDER THE BID FOR AWARD.

IN THE "CONTRACTING OFFICER'S STATEMENT" DATED JULY 18, 1962, IT IS REPORTED THAT UNDER PROVISION V OF THE SCHEDULE THE GOVERNMENT'S DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS WERE SET FORTH; THAT IT WAS THE BUYER'S INTENTION TO OBTAIN BIDS WHICH WOULD ASSURE THE GOVERNMENT OF DELIVERIES UP TO A MAXIMUM OF 1,755,000 FEET PER 30-DAY PERIOD; AND THAT IT WAS DESIRED THAT THE PERIOD WOULD COMMENCE WITHIN 30 DAYS AFTER THE ISSUANCE OF A CALL. HOWEVER, THE BIDDER HAD THE OPTION, WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO ITS BID, TO PROVIDE FOR THE PERIOD TO COMMENCE IN 60 DAYS IN LIEU OF 30 DAYS WITH THE SAME QUANTITY REQUIRED. IT WAS RECOGNIZED THAT, SINCE THE DELIVERY WOULD BE ESTABLISHED BY THE ISSUANCE OF CALLS, THE INVITATION WOULD HAVE TO STIPULATE THE MAXIMUM QUANTITIES THE CONTRACTOR WOULD BE OBLIGATED TO DELIVER DURING ANY 30 DAY PERIOD. TO THIS AND THE FOURTH PARAGRAPH OF PROVISION V WAS INCLUDED. IN PREPARING THE INVITATION A SAMPLE OF ANOTHER ONE WAS USED FOR INFORMATION TO THE TYPIST. PROPER QUANTITY CHANGES WERE MADE IN THE SO-CALLED FIRST AND SECOND PERIODS, BUT UNFORTUNATELY CHANGES WERE NOT MADE IN THE QUANTITIES OF THE REFERENCED FOURTH PARAGRAPH. THIS RESULTED IN TWO SETS OF FIGURES WHICH WERE NOT COMPATIBLE.

THE CONTRACTING OFFICER RECOMMENDS THAT THE BID OF THE BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY BE CONSIDERED AS SUBMITTED WITHOUT MODIFICATION; THAT ASSUMING THE BIDDER WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO MODIFY ITS BID IT SEEMS TO FOLLOW THAT THE BID MUST BE REJECTED AS NOT CONFORMING TO THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS OF THE INVITATION AND IN THAT EVENT IT WILL THEN BE THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S RECOMMENDATION TO REJECT ALL BIDS AND READVERTISE THE REQUIREMENT.

BY LETTER DATED JUNE 21, 1962, FROM MR. J. W. HOGG, GENERAL SALES MANAGER OF THE BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY, ADDRESSED TO BROOKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, THE COMPANY EXPLAINS ITS MISTAKE IN INTERPRETING THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS OF THE INVITATION, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"WE QUOTED A DELIVERY SCHEDULE WHICH WOULD COMMENCE THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF A RELEASE, AS THE AIR FORCE DESIRED, AND PRODUCE AT THE RATE OF 200,000 FEET PER MONTH. WE ASSUMED THIS REPRESENTED EXCEPTION TO THE CONTRACT, BUT LATER LEARNED THAT WE HAD MISINTERPRETED THE LANGUAGE OF PARAGRAPH V, TITLED DELIVERY.

"HERE IS WHY WE MADE A MISTAKE IN INTERPRETATION. THE THIRD SUB PARAGRAPH READS "EACH CALL TO BE COMPLETED AT THE FOLLOWING RATES . . . . . . . . . .' . THE NEXT PARAGRAPH, WHICH FOLLOWS, CITES, AS WE READ IT, THE RATES OF 30,000, 30,000, 120,000, AND 180,000 FEET. SINCE THESE FIGURES IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED THE THIRD SUB-PARAGRAPH, WE ASSUMED THAT A PRODUCTION RATE ROUNDED TO 200,000 FEET PER MONTH WOULD COVER ANY RELEASE AND SATISFY THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS OF THE CONTRACT. THE LARGEST FIGURE MENTIONED IN THIS PARAGRAPH WAS 180,000 FEET.

"OUR FEELING IS THAT THIS MISTAKE WOULD NOT HAVE OCCURRED HAD THE RATES IN THE FOURTH SUB-PARAGRAPH ALSO INCLUDED IN SEQUENCE WHAT WE NOW KNOW TO BE THE FIRST TWO RELEASES.

"THE TABLE FOLLOWING THE FOURTH SUB-PARAGRAPH REFLECTS, AS WE LEARNED LATER, THE FIRST TWO RELEASES. HOWEVER, THE TOTALS AGAINST EACH ITEM CANNOT BE RECONCILED WITH THE ESTIMATED QUANTITIES SHOWN ON PAGES 2 AND 3 OF THE CONTRACT. HAD THIS TABLE INCLUDED COLUMNS WITH RATES FOR ENOUGH ADDITIONAL PERIODS TO RECONCILE THE TOTAL FOR EACH LINE WITH THE ESTIMATED QUANTITIES FOR EACH ITEM ON PAGES 2 AND 3, THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MISINTERPRETED.

"IT CAN BE NOTED THAT OUR BID AS TENDERED DID NOT TAKE EXCEPTION TO THE AIR FORCE'S DESIRED 30 DAY COMMENCEMENT PERIOD. NO ENTRY WAS MADE IN THE LAST SUB-PARAGRAPH ON PAGE 12, BECAUSE WE HAD NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT WE WERE TAKING EXCEPTION TO THE DELIVERY SCHEDULE UNDER THE CONTRACT. THE LACK OF AN ENTRY DEMONSTRATES THAT WE FELT WE WERE MEETING THE AIR FORCE'S SCHEDULE.

"WHEN WE RECEIVED TRANSCRIPTS OF THE BIDDING WE THOUGHT THAT WE WOULD RECEIVE THE AWARD; OUR BID WAS SUBSTANTIALLY LOWER THAN THE NEXT BIDDER. AFTER SEEKING CLARIFICATION ON THE BID, WE WERE INFORMED OF OUR MISTAKE IN INTERPRETING RELEASES: DELIVERY RATES COULD EXCEED 200,000 FEET PER MONTH.

"UP TO THIS TIME WE HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF A 60 DAY COMMENCEMENT PERIOD. OUR UNDERSTANDING WAS THAT A 30 DAY START UP PERIOD WOULD BE ADEQUATE SINCE WE THOUGHT WE WERE MEETING THE PRODUCTION RATES REQUIRED.

"WHEN WE UNDERSTOOD THAT THE EXPECTED RATES WERE TO BE, WE REALIZED THAT THE COMMENCEMENT PERIOD WOULD HAVE TO BE CHANGED TO 60 DAYS. SUBSEQUENTLY WE REQUESTED THAT WE BE ALLOWED TO MODIFY OUR BID. THE AIR FORCE CONDUCTED A FACILITIES INSPECTION TO DETERMINE IF WE HAD THE CAPABILITY TO PRODUCE UNDER THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT. OUR UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THE REPORT WAS IN THE AFFIRMATIVE: BERGEN HAD THE NECESSARY CAPACITY ON THE BASIS OF COMMENCING 60 DAYS AFTER THE FIRST RELEASE.' THE FILE SUBMITTED HERE WITH THE LETTER DATED JULY 25, 1962, FROM THE DEPUTY CHIEF, PROCUREMENT OPERATIONS DIVISION, CONTAINS A MEMORANDUM DATED JULY 17, 1962, BY THE CHAIRMAN, PROCUREMENT COMMITTEE, DIRECTORATE, PROCUREMENT AND PRODUCTION, WHICH STATES, IN PERTINENT PART, THE OLLOWING:

"4. MR. RUSHIN AND MR. J. W. HOGG, GENERAL SALES MANAGER, BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY, MET WITH COLONEL W. H. HARRELL AND ME ON 16 JULY.

"5. MR. HOGG STATED IT WAS BERGEN'S OPINION THAT TO REJECT ALL THE BIDS AND READVERTISE IN THIS CASE WOULD JEOPARDIZE THE GOVERNMENT'S EXPRESSED DESIRE TO MAINTAIN THE INTEGRITY OF THE BID SYSTEM AND FURTHER THAT THEY CHALLENGED OUR RIGHTS UNDER OUR OWN REGULATIONS TO THIS COURSE OF ACTION.

"6. MR. HOGG'S ATTENTION WAS INVITED TO HIS LETTER OF 21 JUNE WHEREIN HE ADMITTED THAT THEY MISINTERPRETED THE LANGUAGE OF PROVISION V OF THE SCHEDULE ENTITLED DELIVERY, WHICH RESULTED IN THE SUBMISSION OF A BID STIPULATING A DELIVERY SCHEDULE OF 200,000 FEET PER MONTH WHEREAS IT WAS THE INTENT OF THE IFB TO REQUIRE DELIVERY UP TO A MAXIMUM OF 1,755,000 FEET PER MONTH. HE WAS ALSO ADVISED THE GOVERNMENT'S POSITION WAS THAT THE THIRD PARAGRAPH OF THE REFERENCED PROVISION WAS MISLEADING AND CONTRIBUTED TO THE MISINTERPRETATION WHICH ALLEGEDLY RESULTED IN A NON- RESPONSIVE BID AND BASED ON THE AMBIGUITY IN THE SPECIFICATIONS ALL BIDS SHOULD BE REJECTED AND THE REQUIREMENT READVERTISED WITH CLEAR SPECIFICATIONS.'

WITH RESPECT TO THE QUESTION SUBMITTED FOR ADVANCE DECISION THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES SET FORTH ABOVE REQUIRE THE CONCLUSION THAT THE BID OF BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY IS NONRESPONSIVE TO THE TERMS OF THE INVITATION. ALTHOUGH IT CAN BE ARGUED THAT IN VIEW OF THE GOVERNMENT'S REQUIRED DELIVERY SCHEDULE AND THE LARGE TOTAL ESTIMATED QUANTITY (6,003,000 FEET) OF WIRE ROPE TO BE DELIVERED, THE INSERTION OF THE LANGUAGE "200,000 FT. PER MONTH" BY THE BIDDER IS AN ERROR SO OBVIOUS THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER MAY DISREGARD IT, WE DO NOT THINK THAT SUCH A CONCLUSION IS WARRANTED BY THE FACTS REPORTED. ON THE CONTRARY, THE LETTER BY MR. HOGG DATED JUNE 21, 1962, INDICATES THAT THE INSERTION OF THE FIGURE 200,000 BY BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY WAS INDEED INTENDED TO LIMIT THE COMPANY'S OBLIGATION TO DELIVER ONLY 200,000 FEET PER MONTH AND WAS NOT INTENDED TO REFER TO THE AUTOMATIC EXTENSION PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH 4, PROVISION V OF THE SCHEDULE. SEE THE LETTER OF JUNE 21 WHEREIN MR. HOGG STATED: "WE QUOTED A DELIVERY SCHEDULE WHICH WOULD COMMENCE THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF A RELEASE, AS THE AIR FORCE DESIRED, AND PRODUCE AT THE RATE OF 200,000 FEET PER MONTH," AND "WE ASSUMED THAT A PRODUCTION RATE ROUNDED TO 200,000 FEET PER MONTH WOULD COVER ANY RELEASE AND SATISFY THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS OF THE CONTRACT" AND, AGAIN,"AFTER SEEKING CLARIFICATION OF THE BID, WE WERE INFORMED OF OUR MISTAKE IN INTERPRETING RELEASES: DELIVERY RATES COULD EXCEED 200,000 FEET PER MONTH.' IN FACT MR. HOGG'S LETTER IS PRIMARILY CONCERNED WITH EXPLAINING WHY THE BIDDER WAS MISLED INTO BELIEVING THAT MONTHLY DELIVERY RATES UNDER THE CONTRACT WERE REFLECTED BY THE FIGURES APPEARING IN PARAGRAPH 4 OF PROVISION V--- THAT IS, RATES OF 30,000, 30,000, 120,000 AND 180,000 FEET.

NOR IS IT ANY ANSWER TO CONTEND THAT THE NONRESPONSIVENESS OF BERGEN'S BID WAS DUE TO OVERSIGHT OR MISTAKE AND THAT IN LIGHT OF THE RELATIVELY LARGE ESTIMATED YEARLY QUANTITY OF WIRE ROPE REQUIRED BERGEN COULD NOT HAVE MEANT TO OBLIGATE ITSELF TO DELIVER A MERE 200,000 FEET PER MONTH. AS WAS STATED IN 38 COMP. GEN. 819, 821:

"IT IS PROBABLE THAT THE MAJORITY OF UNRESPONSIVE BIDS ARE DUE TO OVERSIGHT OR ERROR, SUCH AS THE FAILURE TO QUOTE A PRICE, TO SIGN A BID, TO FURNISH A BID BOND, TO SUBMIT REQUIRED SAMPLES OR DATA, OR THE SUBMISSION OF THE WRONG SAMPLE, INCOMPLETE DATA, OR STATEMENTS THE ACTUAL MEANING OF WHICH WAS NOT INTENDED, ETC. AN UNRESPONSIVE BID DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER WHICH MAY PROPERLY BE ACCEPTED, AND TO PERMIT A BIDDER TO MAKE HIS BID RESPONSIVE BY CHANGING, ADDING TO, OR DELETING A MATERIAL PART OF THE BID ON THE BASIS OF AN ERROR ALLEGED AFTER THE OPENING WOULD BE TANTAMOUNT TO PERMITTING A BIDDER TO SUBMIT A NEW BID. IT IS OUR OPINION THAT AN ALLEGATION OF ERROR IS PROPER FOR CONSIDERATION ONLY IN CASES WHERE THE BID IS RESPONSIVE TO THE INVITATION AND IS OTHERWISE PROPER FOR ACCEPTANCE.'

WE FIND NOTHING IN THE RECORD BEFORE US WHICH WOULD JUSTIFY AN EXCEPTION TO THE ABOVE-STATED RULE.

IN ANY EVENT HOWEVER WE BELIEVE THAT ALL BIDS SHOULD BE REJECTED AND THE PROCUREMENT READVERTISED. PARAGRAPH 2-404.1 (A) OF THE ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR) PROVIDES IN PART THAT THE PRESERVATION OF THE INTEGRITY OF THE COMPETITIVE BID SYSTEM DICTATES THAT AFTER BIDS HAVE BEEN OPENED AWARD MUST BE MADE TO THAT RESPONSIBLE BIDDER WHO SUBMITTED THE LOWEST RESPONSIVE BID UNLESS THERE IS A COMPELLING REASON TO REJECT ALL BIDS AND CANCEL THE INVITATION. PARAGRAPH 2-404.1 (B) ASPR FURTHER PROVIDES THAT INVITATIONS FOR BIDS MAY BE CANCELED AFTER OPENING BUT PRIOR TO AWARD WHERE SUCH ACTION IS CONSISTENT WITH ASPR 2-404.1 (A) AND THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DETERMINES IN WRITING THAT, AMONG OTHER REASONS, INADEQUATE OR AMBIGUOUS SPECIFICATIONS WERE CITED IN THE INVITATION.

IN THE LETTER OF JUNE 21, 1962, BERGEN WIRE ROPE COMPANY ALLEGES, IN SUBSTANCE, THAT ITS MISINTERPRETATION OF THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS WAS CAUSED BY THE MISLEADING NATURE IN WHICH THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS WERE STATED IN PROVISION V OF THE SCHEDULE. AS NOTED IN THAT LETTER, THE TOTALS IN THE TABLE FOLLOWING THE FOURTH PARAGRAPH OF PROVISION V CANNOT BE RECONCILED WITH THE ESTIMATED QUANTITIES SHOWN ON PAGES 2 AND 3 OF THE SCHEDULE. THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE CONCEDES THAT THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS WERE STATED INADEQUATELY AND AMBIGUOUSLY. WE CONCUR IN THE DEPARTMENT'S CONCLUSION THAT IN REGARD. ALTHOUGH IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT THE BID PRICES HAVE BEEN EXPOSED, THE AMBIGUITY OF THE PRESENT INVITATION REPRESENTS A COMPELLING REASON FOR REJECTION OF ALL BIDS AND READVERTISEMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT'S REQUIREMENTS.