B-156357, MAY 11, 1965

B-156357: May 11, 1965

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TO KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 18. WAS THE LOW BID. THAT CONCERN WAS AWARDED THE CONTRACT ON MARCH 18. THERE WERE SIX BIDS SUBMITTED UNDER THE INVITATION WHICH WERE LOWER THAN YOURS. YOU STATED THAT YOUR PROTEST WAS BEING MADE AS A "FRIEND OF THE GOVERNMENT. WE HAVE BEEN FURNISHED A REPORT BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER. WHICH IS IN MATERIAL PART AS FOLLOWS: "4. THE ITEM BEING PURCHASED IS A FAN UNIT WHICH WILL BE RACK MOUNTED AND USED TO COOL ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT SUCH AS COMPUTERS OR DATA PROCESSING MACHINES. THE ITEM IS DESIGNED TO BE USED IN AN AMBIENT TEMPERATURE NOT IN EXCESS OF 40 DEGREES C. THE CLASS A INSULATION USED IS COMPATIBLE WITH SUCH AMBIENT TEMPERATURE.

B-156357, MAY 11, 1965

TO KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 18, 1965, PROTESTING AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT UNDER INVITATION DSA-4-65 1538, ISSUED BY THE DIRECTORATE FOR PROCUREMENT AND PRODUCTION, DEFENSE GENERAL SUPPLY CENTER, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA.

THE INVITATION, AS AMENDED FEBRUARY 25, 1965, SOLICITED BIDS TO BE OPENED MARCH 10, 1965, FOR FURNISHING A TOTAL OF 588 CENTRIFUGAL ELECTRIC FANS WITH SLEEVE BEARING MOTORS, MCLEAN ENGINEERING LABORATORIES PART NO. 2E408A, OR EQUAL, TO THE THREE DESTINATIONS SHOWN. OF THE EIGHT BIDS SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION, MCLEAN ENGINEERING LABORATORIES' BID, IN THE UNIT PRICE AMOUNT OF $34.65, WAS THE LOW BID, AND THAT CONCERN WAS AWARDED THE CONTRACT ON MARCH 18, 1965.

IN YOUR LETTER, YOU CONTENDED THAT IT WOULD NOT BE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE AN AWARD UNDER THE INVITATION, AND THAT THE IFB SHOULD BE REISSUED WITH AMENDED SPECIFICATIONS CALLING FOR FANS WITH BALL BEARING MOTORS, LUBRICATED TO A TEMPERATURE RANGE OF MINUS 29 DEGREES CENTIGRADE TO PLUS 148 DEGREES CENTIGRADE. INCLUDING THE BID OF MCLEAN ENGINEERING LABORATORIES, THERE WERE SIX BIDS SUBMITTED UNDER THE INVITATION WHICH WERE LOWER THAN YOURS. YOU STATED THAT YOUR PROTEST WAS BEING MADE AS A "FRIEND OF THE GOVERNMENT," RATHER THAN AN UNSUCCESSFUL BIDDER, FOR THE REASONS INDICATED IN YOUR LETTER.

WITH RESPECT TO THE REASONS ADVANCED IN YOUR LETTER AS TO WHY IT WOULD BE MORE ECONOMICAL IN THE LONG RUN TO PROCURE FANS, OR BLOWERS, WITH BALL BEARING MOTORS, RATHER THAN SLEEVE BEARING MOTORS, WE HAVE BEEN FURNISHED A REPORT BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER, DATED APRIL 12, 1965, WHICH IS IN MATERIAL PART AS FOLLOWS:

"4. THE ITEM BEING PURCHASED IS A FAN UNIT WHICH WILL BE RACK MOUNTED AND USED TO COOL ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT SUCH AS COMPUTERS OR DATA PROCESSING MACHINES. THE ITEM IS DESIGNED TO BE USED IN AN AMBIENT TEMPERATURE NOT IN EXCESS OF 40 DEGREES C. AND THE CLASS A INSULATION USED IS COMPATIBLE WITH SUCH AMBIENT TEMPERATURE. A MOTOR WITH PERMANENTLY LUBRICATED BALL BEARINGS WOULD OPERATE LONGER WITHOUT MAINTENANCE IN HIGH AMBIENT TEMPERATURES. THE DIRECTORATE OF TECHNICAL OPERATIONS THIS CENTER STATES THAT BALL TYPE BEARINGS ARE ONLY REQUIRED WHEN OPERATING IN A TEMPERATURE OF 120 DEGREE C.

"5. THE SLEEVE BEARING MOTOR BEING PURCHASED IS LIFE LUBRICATED WITH OIL TUBES PROVIDED AS A SAFETY FACTOR IF THE AMBIENT TEMPERATURE BECOMES UNUSUALLY HIGH. THE SLEEVE BEARING MOTOR SHOULD LAST FIVE TO SIX YEARS WITHOUT FURTHER LUBRICATION AND SHOULD LAST AS LONG AS THE BALL BEARING MOTOR USED IN AMBIENT TEMPERATURES UP TO 40 DEGREES C. IF IT IS LUBRICATED AT INTERVALS.

"6. IT IS AGREED THAT THE BALL BEARING MOTORS WOULD NOT INCREASE THE PRICE OF THE FAN UNIT MORE THAN $3.00 TO $5.00. HOWEVER, THERE WOULD BE NO ASCERTAINABLE BENEFIT TO THE GOVERNMENT TO BE DERIVED FROM THIS EXTRA EXPENDITURE CONSIDERING THE USE OF THE FAN UNITS BEING PURCHASED. IT IS ALSO DOUBTFUL THAT THE PURCHASE OF BALL BEARING MOTORS WOULD BENEFIT THE PROTESTANT, KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY, SINCE BALL BEARING MOTORS ARE AVAILABLE IN THE MCLEAN ENGINEERING LABORATORIES PART CITED, IF ORDERED, AND THE DIFFERENCE IN THE PRICES BID BY THE TWO COMPANIES EXCEEDS $5.00.

"7. KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY'S STATEMENT THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S PRACTICE OF ORDERING SLEEVE BEARINGS IS DIRECTLY CONTRARY TO THE GENERAL PRACTICE OF THE ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY IS NOT UNDERSTOOD. THE MCLEAN ENGINEERING LABORATORIES CATALOGUE STATES THAT ITS MODEL 2E408 IS THE MOST POPULAR OF ALL MCLEAN MODELS AND OTHER BIDDERS ALSO PRODUCE A UNIT WITH THE SLEEVE BEARING MOTORS UNDER THEIR OWN PART NUMBERS.

"8. SINCE THE USE OF THE FAN UNIT IS TO COOL ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT, IT WOULD BE EXPECTED THAT REQUIREMENTS WOULD INCREASE AS THE GOVERNMENT'S USE OF ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT INCREASES. PRIOR PROCUREMENTS OF SUFFICIENT SIZE TO BE ADVERTISED INCLUDED WARRANTY AND/OR GUARANTY PROVISIONS IN THE CONTRACTS. HOWEVER, NO UNSATISFACTORY EQUIPMENT REPORTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE USING ACTIVITIES. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES THERE APPEARS TO BE NO BASIS FOR THE STATEMENT MADE BY KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY THAT "REPLACEMENT REQUIREMENTS ARE EXCESSIVE.'

"9. THIS CENTER KNOWS OF NO CHANGES BEING MADE IN MCLEAN ENGINEERING LABORATORIES" PART NO. 2E408A BETWEEN 1962 AND NOW. KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY APPARENTLY BELIEVES THAT THERE MAY BE LESS IRON IN THE STATOR. WAS NOTED FROM THE FILES THAT THE ITEM DELIVERED IN 1964 HAS THE SAME GROSS WEIGHT AS THE ITEM DELIVERED IN 1962. KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY STATES THAT IF THERE WERE LESS IRON IN THE STATOR THE BEARINGS WOULD RUN DRY AND QUICKLY FREEZE. AS PREVIOUSLY NOTED, NO UNSATISFACTORY EQUIPMENT REPORTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE USING ACTIVITIES.

"10. THE PRICE DECREASE POINTED OUT BY KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY IS CONSIDERED TO BE ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE LARGER QUANTITIES BEING PURCHASED AT ONE TIME AND TO THE EFFECTS OF COMPETITION FOR THE LARGER PROCUREMENTS. ALTHOUGH THE PRICE RECORDS OF THIS CENTER DO NOT SHOW SMALL PURCHASES BEING MADE SUBSEQUENT TO MARCH 1963, THE PRICE AT THAT TIME FOR 2 TO 5 UNITS WAS APPROXIMATELY $80.00 EACH. IT IS ALSO NOTED THAT KOOLTRONIC FAN COMPANY'S CURRENT BID PRICE FOR THE 588 UNITS IS $41.67 TO $42.32 INCLUDING $3.00 TO $5.00 FOR THE MORE EXPENSIVE BALL BEARING MOTOR.'

SINCE AWARD UNDER THE SUBJECT INVITATION ALREADY HAS BEEN MADE, AND THE CONTENTIONS ADVANCED IN YOUR LETTER CONSTITUTE NO BASIS FOR CANCELLING THE AWARD, THERE REMAINS ONLY THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE SPECIFICATIONS TO BE INCORPORATED IN FUTURE INVITATIONS FOR FANS OR BLOWERS OF THE TYPE HERE INVOLVED SHOULD BE REVISED IN THE MANNER SUGGESTED BY YOU. THE PROCURING ACTIVITY HAS REACHED A NEGATIVE CONCLUSION ON THIS QUESTION FOR THE REASONS INDICATED ABOVE, WHICH APPEAR TO CONSTITUTE AN ADEQUATE ANSWER TO YOUR CONTENTIONS.

WE HAVE NEITHER AN ENGINEERING STAFF NOR A TESTING LABORATORY TO EVALUATE THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF SPECIFICATIONS, AND THE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS DESIGNED TO MEET THE LEGITIMATE NEEDS OF AN AGENCY IS A MATTER PRIMARILY WITHIN ITS DISCRETION. SEE 17 COMP. GEN. 554, 557. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, NO FURTHER ACTION ON YOUR PROTEST BY THIS OFFICE IS CONTEMPLATED.