B-151265, SEP. 9, 1963

B-151265: Sep 9, 1963

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THE CRUX OF YOUR COMPLAINT IS THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE IN THAT THEY REQUIRE THAT THE LITHIUM CHLORIDE DESICCANT USED IN THE EQUIPMENT BE IN A LIQUID RATHER THAN A DRY STATE. WILL PERFORM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS IN A MATTER SUPERIOR TO EQUIPMENT EMPLOYING A LIQUID DESICCANT. THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY REPORTS THAT DUST GENERATED BY THE ABRASIVE SAND BLASTING OPERATIONS WILL CLOG THE HONEYCOMB CORRUGATED ASBESTOS PAPER DESICCANT WHEEL DRY SYSTEM USED IN THE CARGOCAIRE EQUIPMENT. THIS DUST- LADEN AIR IS REQUIRED TO PASS THROUGH SMALL SPACES BETWEEN THE ASBESTOS PAPER-TYPE CORRUGATION. NOT ONLY WILL THE AIR HANDLING CAPACITY THROUGH THE HONEYCOMB WHEEL BE DECREASED IN TIME.

B-151265, SEP. 9, 1963

TO THE CARGOCAIRE ENGINEERING CORPORATION:

IN YOUR LETTERS OF APRIL 8 AND 9, 1963, AND JUNE 18, 1963, YOU PROTEST THE AWARD OF A NEGOTIATED CONTRACT FOR SHIP DEHUMIDIFICATION SYSTEMS TO HUMIDITY CONDITIONER CORPORATION, AFTER YOUR COMPANY AND OTHERS HAD BEEN REJECTED AS NONRESPONSIVE TO A FORMAL INVITATION FOR BIDS. THE CRUX OF YOUR COMPLAINT IS THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE IN THAT THEY REQUIRE THAT THE LITHIUM CHLORIDE DESICCANT USED IN THE EQUIPMENT BE IN A LIQUID RATHER THAN A DRY STATE. YOU CONTEND THAT THE USE OF THE EQUIPMENT YOU OFFERED, BECAUSE IT EMPLOYS A DRY DESICCANT, WILL PERFORM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS IN A MATTER SUPERIOR TO EQUIPMENT EMPLOYING A LIQUID DESICCANT.

THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY REPORTS THAT DUST GENERATED BY THE ABRASIVE SAND BLASTING OPERATIONS WILL CLOG THE HONEYCOMB CORRUGATED ASBESTOS PAPER DESICCANT WHEEL DRY SYSTEM USED IN THE CARGOCAIRE EQUIPMENT. THIS DUST- LADEN AIR IS REQUIRED TO PASS THROUGH SMALL SPACES BETWEEN THE ASBESTOS PAPER-TYPE CORRUGATION. NOT ONLY WILL THE AIR HANDLING CAPACITY THROUGH THE HONEYCOMB WHEEL BE DECREASED IN TIME, BUT THE DESICCANT CRYSTALLINE SALT SURFACE (WHICH IS REQUIRED TO ABSORB MOISTURE) WILL BE COATED WITH DUST. THIS WILL REDUCE THE EQUIPMENT'S CAPACITY TO REMOVE MOISTURE. THE LIQUID-TYPE UNIT WILL PROVIDE SATISFACTORY OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE CHARACTERISTICS UNDER THE DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCE OF OPERATING IN A GRIT- LADEN ATMOSPHERE. THE CONTINUOUS WASHING EFFECT OF THE LIQUID DESICCANT COMING DIRECTLY IN CONTACT WITH THE MOISTURE AND DUST-LADEN AIR WILL PERMIT EFFICIENT MOISTURE REMOVAL AT MINIMUM MAINTENANCE COST.

YOU CONTEND THAT IMPROVEMENTS MADE BY YOUR COMPANY ON THIS TYPE OF DEHUMIDIFYING EQUIPMENT ENABLES IT TO OFFER SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE IN THE ENVIRONMENT DESCRIBED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY. IN SUPPORT OF THIS ARGUMENT, YOU HAVE SUBMITTED LETTERS FROM COMPANIES IN SWEDEN, IN WHICH THEY TESTIFY THAT THEY ARE SATISFIED WITH THE USE OF YOUR EQUIPMENT FOR ALLEGEDLY THE SAME PURPOSE AS THE ONE REQUIRED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY. IN REPLY TO THESE CONTENTIONS, THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY POINTS OUT THAT NEITHER OF THE TWO MODELS USED BY THE SWEDISH COMPANIES IS THE SAME AS THE ONE WHICH WAS OFFERED BY CARGOCAIRE IN THE SUBJECT PROCUREMENT, AND FURTHERMORE, THAT IT HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE PARTICULAR SPECIFICATIONS WHICH WERE REQUIRED TO BE MET BY THE SWEDISH FIRMS. HOWEVER, IT HAS SUGGESTED TO THIS OFFICE THAT IF YOU WISH YOU MAY SUBMIT THIS INFORMATION AND/OR RECOMMENDATIONS AS TO MATERIAL SPECIFICATIONS FOR PURPOSES OF FUTURE PROCUREMENTS TO THE CHIEF, BUREAU OF SHIPS, DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, WASHINGTON 25, D.C.

THE RECORD ESTABLISHES THAT THE EQUIPMENT YOU HAVE OFFERED OPERATES IN A MANNER WHICH IS NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE SPECIFICATIONS. THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE TECHNICAL PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS ARE NECESSARY TO MEET THE MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE PROCURING ACTIVITY, AND THE QUESTION AS TO THE MATERIALITY OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR MACHINE AND THE ONE CALLED FOR IN THE SPECIFICATIONS, ARE NOT ORDINARILY CONSIDERED TO BE WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THIS OFFICE. IN OUR DECISION B-139830, DATED AUGUST 19, 1959, WE MADE THE FOLLOWING OBSERVATIONS:

"THIS OFFICE HAS NEITHER AN ENGINEERING STAFF NOR A TESTING LABORATORY TO EVALUATE THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF SPECIFICATIONS. MOREOVER, IN DISPUTES OF FACT BETWEEN A PROTESTANT AND A GOVERNMENT AGENCY, WE USUALLY ARE REQUIRED TO ACCEPT THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT AS CORRECT. WHETHER A PARTICULAR BID IS RESPONSIVE TO THE TECHNICAL DETAILS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS IS NOT A MATTER, ORDINARILY, FOR OUR DETERMINATION. * *

IN THIS REGARD, WE HELD IN OUR DECISION B-143389, DATED AUGUST 26, 1960, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE QUESTION AS TO THE ACTION, IF ANY, WHICH OUR OFFICE SHOULD TAKE IN CASES INVOLVING THE EVALUATION OF TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFICATIONS, ETC., HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF A NUMBER OF DECISIONS BY OUR OFFICE. YOUR PROTEST IS BASED UPON SUCH AN EVALUATION. OF NECESSITY, OUR OFFICE HAS ESTABLISHED A RULE GOVERNING SUCH SITUATIONS. IN A DECISION DATED JANUARY 8, 1938, TO THE PRESIDENT, BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PUBLISHED AT 17 COMP. GEN. 554, 557, WE SET FORTH THE FOLLOWING RULE WHICH WE CONSIDER TO BE CONTROLLING IN THE INSTANT MATTER:

" "IT IS IN THE PROVINCE OF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS TO DRAFT PROPER SPECIFICATIONS NECESSARY TO SUBMIT FOR FAIR COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROPOSED CONTRACTS TO SUPPLY GOVERNMENTAL NEEDS, AND TO DETERMINE FACTUALLY WHETHER ARTICLES OFFERED MEET THOSE SPECIFICATIONS. * * *" "

IN VIEW OF THE FACTS REPORTED IN THIS CASE, AND FOR THE REASONS SET OUT IN THE ABOVE-CITED DECISIONS, WE WOULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED IN OBJECTING TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION TAKEN.