B-153286, MAR. 17, 1964

B-153286: Mar 17, 1964

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

TO THE GENERAL FIREPROOFING COMPANY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED JANUARY 17. IN THE LETTER IT IS STATED THAT AS A RESULT OF COMPLAINTS FROM VARIOUS AGENCIES CONCERNING THE QUALITY OF DESKS SUPPLIED BY MANUFACTURERS. IT IS STATED THAT THE REQUESTED COMMENTS WERE DUE BY DECEMBER 3. THAT THE TIME ALLOWED WAS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR THE MANUFACTURERS TO PROPERLY CONSIDER THE PROPOSED SPECIFICATIONS NOR FOR GSA TO CONSIDER ANY COMMENTS. IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ON YOUR DESKS "ARE HIGHER THAN REQUIRED BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION SPECIFICATION AA-D-00190B" AND THAT A REVISION OF THE SPECIFICATIONS TO MEET YOUR STANDARDS. THE REPORT OF GSA SHOWS THAT IN THE EARLY PART OF 1963 THE NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS ON THE GENERAL OFFICE STEEL DESK WAS SO GREAT AS SHOWN BY A SAMPLING OF UNSATISFACTORY REPORTS THAT CORRECTIVE ACTION WAS CONSIDERED.

B-153286, MAR. 17, 1964

TO THE GENERAL FIREPROOFING COMPANY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED JANUARY 17, 1964, FROM YOUR ATTORNEYS, PROTESTING THE ACTION OF THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) IN REVISING THE SPECIFICATION FOR GENERAL OFFICE DESKS.

IN THE LETTER IT IS STATED THAT AS A RESULT OF COMPLAINTS FROM VARIOUS AGENCIES CONCERNING THE QUALITY OF DESKS SUPPLIED BY MANUFACTURERS, THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, ON NOVEMBER 29, 1963, REQUESTED THE VARIOUS MANUFACTURERS TO COMMENT ON PROPOSED NEW SPECIFICATIONS TO COVER CONSTRUCTION OF ALL DESKS IN THE FUTURE. ALSO, IT IS STATED THAT THE REQUESTED COMMENTS WERE DUE BY DECEMBER 3, 1963, AND THAT THE TIME ALLOWED WAS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR THE MANUFACTURERS TO PROPERLY CONSIDER THE PROPOSED SPECIFICATIONS NOR FOR GSA TO CONSIDER ANY COMMENTS. IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ON YOUR DESKS "ARE HIGHER THAN REQUIRED BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION SPECIFICATION AA-D-00190B" AND THAT A REVISION OF THE SPECIFICATIONS TO MEET YOUR STANDARDS--- WHICH APPLY TO YOUR COMMERCIAL TRADE--- WOULD PROVIDE A COMPLETELY ADEQUATE PRODUCT. AND WHILE THE PRICE OF THE DESKS SUPPLIED BY YOU HAS BEEN STEADILY REDUCED DURING THE PAST SIX YEARS, THE NEW SPECIFICATIONS WOULD ADD TO THE COST OF THE DESKS, WHICH TOGETHER WITH THE INCREASED FREIGHT COSTS BECAUSE OF THE ADDITIONAL WEIGHT OF EACH DESK, WOULD RESULT IN AN ESTIMATED INCREASED EXPENDITURE OF $1,250,000 YEARLY FOR THE GOVERNMENT.

THE REPORT OF GSA SHOWS THAT IN THE EARLY PART OF 1963 THE NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS ON THE GENERAL OFFICE STEEL DESK WAS SO GREAT AS SHOWN BY A SAMPLING OF UNSATISFACTORY REPORTS THAT CORRECTIVE ACTION WAS CONSIDERED. ACCORDINGLY A SPECIFICATION DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE WAS HELD ON APRIL 18, 1963, WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF VARIOUS COMPANIES TO DISCUSS MEASURES WHICH MIGHT BE TAKEN TO PREVENT THE HIGH INCIDENCE OF UNSERVICEABLE DESKS AND TABLES. REPRESENTATIVES OF YOUR COMPANY MET THE FOLLOWING DAY (APRIL 19) WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF GSA TO DISCUSS WHAT IMPROVEMENTS MIGHT BE MADE IN THE REQUIREMENTS FOR DESKS. THEREAFTER, BY LETTER DATED MAY 6, 1963, YOUR COMPANY SUGGESTED CERTAIN IMPROVEMENTS THAT COULD BE MADE IN THE QUALITY OF THE DESKS. IN THE LIGHT OF THE UNSATISFACTORY REPORTS ON DESKS IT WAS CONSIDERED NECESSARY TO REVISE THE SPECIFICATION FOR STEEL GENERAL OFFICE DESKS FOR USE IN THE INVITATION SOLICITING BIDS FOR THE ANNUAL TERM CONTRACT FOR THE PERIOD FROM APRIL 1, 1964, THROUGH MARCH 31, 1965. THE ORIGINAL TARGET DATE FOR THE ISSUANCE OF THIS INVITATION WAS DECEMBER 9, 1963.

THE PROPOSED REVISED SPECIFICATION, NUMBER AA-D-00191C, WAS COORDINATED WITH 11 MANUFACTURERS WHICH HAD BEEN ACTIVE BIDDERS IN THE PREVIOUS YEARS. THE RESULTS HAVE BEEN SUMMARIZED IN THE GSA REPORT AS FOLLOWS:

"COMPANY REMARKS

ART METAL, INC. SATISFACTORY AS WRITTEN.

ART STEEL COMPANY DESIGN TOO OLD. NOT INTERESTED.

GLOBE-WERNICKE MINOR COMMENT - DESIGN SHOULD BE

MORE LIKE STEEL UNITIZED.

GENERAL FIREPROOFING EXTENSIVE COMMENTS.

HARRISON SHEET STEEL CO. NO REPLY

HILLSIDE METAL PRODUCTS CO. GENERAL AGREEMENT WITH SOME

SUGGESTED CHANGES.

M. S. GINN CO. (CORRY

JAMESTOWN) SATISFACTORY AS WRITTEN.

ROYALMETAL CORP. GENERAL AGREEMENT WITH SOME

SUGGESTED CHANGES.

STANDARD PRESSED STEEL CO. NO SERIOUS OBJECTION. SOME MINOR

CHANGES SUGGESTED.

STEELCASE INC. NO SERIOUS OBJECTION. SOME

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEIR STANDARD

LINE AND SPECIFICATION CITED.

SUPERIOR SLEEPRITE CORP. SATISFACTORY AS WRITTEN.'

YOUR COMPANY WAS THE ONLY MANUFACTURER WHICH DISAGREED COMPLETELY WITH THE REVISED SPECIFICATION.

WITH REGARD TO THE ALLEGED LACK OF TIME FOR YOU TO REVIEW THE REVISED SPECIFICATION, GSA STATES THAT WHILE THE TIME ALLOWED FOR REVIEW WAS ADMITTEDLY SHORT, ALL MANUFACTURERS HAD THE SAME HANDICAP AND YOUR COMPANY WAS THE ONLY ONE WHICH CLAIMED THAT THE REVIEW TASK COULD NOT BE ACCOMPLISHED IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS. TWO REPRESENTATIVES OF GSA MET WITH YOUR ENGINEERS ON DECEMBER 10, 1963, TO DISCUSS THE PROPOSED SPECIFICATION.

YOUR OBJECTIONS TO THE NEW SPECIFICATIONS MAY BE ATTRIBUTED TO TWO FACTORS. GSA STATES THAT THE CONSTRUCTION NOW SPECIFIED IS A MUCH GREATER DEPARTURE FROM YOUR COMMERCIAL LINE THAN ANY PREVIOUS ISSUE OF THE SPECIFICATION. SECONDLY, GSA STATES THAT THE NEW REQUIREMENTS WILL CAUSE YOU TO MAKE EXPENDITURES FOR NEW TOOLING WHICH MAY BE HIGHER THAN THOSE OF OTHER MANUFACTURERS. GSA ADMITS, AS YOU ALLEGE, THAT THE INITIAL COST OF THE DESKS UNDER THE REVISED SPECIFICATION WILL BE HIGHER THAN THE COST UNDER THE OLD SPECIFICATION BUT THAT THIS IS THE PRICE THAT MUST BE PAID FOR IMPROVED QUALITY. ALSO, IT BELIEVES THAT FUTURE PROCUREMENTS OF THE DESK UNDER THE REVISED SPECIFICATION WILL REFLECT A REDUCTION IN COST IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT UPON A PREVIOUS ISSUE OF THE SAME SPECIFICATION IT PAID $83.81 IN 1958 WITH A REDUCTION TO $54.84 IN 1963, EVEN WITH INCREASED LABOR AND MATERIAL COSTS. GSA FEELS THAT WHEN THE GOVERNMENT'S INTANGIBLE IRRECOVERABLE COSTS IN LOST ADMINISTRATIVE TIME AND DESCRIPTION OF AGENCY OPERATIONS ARE CONSIDERED, THE FACTORS CITED BY YOU AGAINST THE NEW SPECIFICATION ARE FAR OUTWEIGHED BY THE ADVANTAGES TO THE GOVERNMENT OF BETTER QUALITY AND GREATER SATISFACTION.

WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT IT IS NOT WITHIN THE PROVINCE OF OUR OFFICE TO DRAFT SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE CONTRACTUAL NEEDS OF DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT. 17 COMP. GEN. 554. MOREOVER, THE REVISION OF THE SPECIFICATION HERE INVOLVED APPEARS TO BE OF A SPECIALIZED NATURE AND THE QUESTION AS TO WHAT IS REQUIRED TO CORRECT THE DEFECTS WHICH RESULTED WHEN THE PRIOR SPECIFICATION WAS USED IS FOR DETERMINATION ON THE BASIS OF OPINIONS OF THE TECHNICIANS IN GSA. THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE ADOPTION OF A DIFFERENT SPECIFICATION WILL SATISFACTORILY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND WHICH WILL RESULT IN LESS COST TO IT IS FOR DETERMINATION BY OFFICIALS OF GSA.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING WE FIND NO LEGAL BASIS TO QUESTION THE ADOPTION OF SPECIFICATION AA-D-00191C IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS FOR FURNISHING DESKS FOR THE PERIOD FROM APRIL 1, 1964, THROUGH MARCH 31, 1965.