B-156432, MAY 25, 1965

B-156432: May 25, 1965

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

HOUGH CO.: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 26. BIDS WERE SOLICITED ON A STEP LADDER QUANTITY OF FROM 227 TO 267 UNITS WITH AN EQUAL QUANTITY SET ASIDE FOR LATER NEGOTIATION WITH SMALL BUSINESS CONCERNS. WHEN THE BIDS WERE OPENED. IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE LOW BID SUBMITTED BY NORTHWESTERN MOTOR COMPANY WAS RESPONSIVE TO THE TERMS OF THE INVITATION AND AN AWARD TO THAT FIRM WAS PREPARED. THE CONTRACTING OFFICE ADVISED YOU THAT AN ACCEPTABLE EVALUATION OF NORTHWESTERN BID DATA INDICATES THAT THE TRACTOR OFFERED CAN BE EXPECTED TO HAVE A DRAWBAR PULL OF 8. AWARD OF THE BASIC QUANTITY AS WELL AS THE SET-ASIDE QUANTITY WAS MADE TO NORTHWESTERN. THAT BUREAU WAS AGAIN REQUESTED TO CONSIDER YOUR CONTENTIONS.

B-156432, MAY 25, 1965

TO THE FRANK G. HOUGH CO.:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 26, 1965, PROTESTING THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER BIDDER, NORTHWESTERN MOTOR COMPANY, UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. 600-254-65, ISSUED SEPTEMBER 24, 1964, BY THE UNITED STATES NAVY PURCHASING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C.

THE INVITATION SOLICITED BIDS FOR FURNISHING 7,500-POUND DRAWBAR PULL AIRCRAFT TOWING TRACTORS IN ACCORDANCE WITH MILITARY SPECIFICATION MIL-T- 81038 (WEP). BIDS WERE SOLICITED ON A STEP LADDER QUANTITY OF FROM 227 TO 267 UNITS WITH AN EQUAL QUANTITY SET ASIDE FOR LATER NEGOTIATION WITH SMALL BUSINESS CONCERNS. THE INVITATION REQUIRED THAT DESCRIPTIVE DATA, INCLUDING INFORMATION ON THE GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT AND DISTRIBUTION OF WEIGHT AS TO FRONT AND REAR, BE FURNISHED WITH THE BIDS. WHEN THE BIDS WERE OPENED, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE LOW BID SUBMITTED BY NORTHWESTERN MOTOR COMPANY WAS RESPONSIVE TO THE TERMS OF THE INVITATION AND AN AWARD TO THAT FIRM WAS PREPARED.

ON MARCH 10, 1965, PRIOR TO ISSUANCE OF AN AWARD TO NORTHWESTERN YOU ADDRESSED A LETTER TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICE IN WHICH YOU PROTESTED ANY AWARD TO NORTHWESTERN ON THE GROUND THAT THE TRACTOR OFFERED DID NOT MEET THE DRAWBAR PULL TEST. ON MARCH 22, 1965, THE CONTRACTING OFFICE ADVISED YOU THAT AN ACCEPTABLE EVALUATION OF NORTHWESTERN BID DATA INDICATES THAT THE TRACTOR OFFERED CAN BE EXPECTED TO HAVE A DRAWBAR PULL OF 8,415 POUNDS, WELL ABOVE THE SPECIFICATION MINIMUM OF 7,500 POUNDS. AWARD OF THE BASIC QUANTITY AS WELL AS THE SET-ASIDE QUANTITY WAS MADE TO NORTHWESTERN.

IN YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 26, 1965, TO OUR OFFICE, YOU AGAIN STATED THAT THE TRACTOR OFFERED BY NORTHWESTERN COULD NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS AND YOU SET FORTH THE DETAILS OF THIS PROTEST IN A LETTER OF THE SAME DATE TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICE. SINCE THE CONTRACTING OFFICE RELIED ON THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION OF THE EQUIPMENT GIVEN BY THE BUREAU OF NAVAL WEAPONS, THAT BUREAU WAS AGAIN REQUESTED TO CONSIDER YOUR CONTENTIONS. HIS REPLY OF APRIL 21, 1965, THE CHIEF, BUREAU OF NAVAL WEAPONS, ADVISED THE CONTRACTING OFFICE AS FOLLOWS:

"2. THE FRANK G. HOUGH COMPANY AGAIN ALLEGES BY IMPLICATION THAT OTHER TRACTOR MANUFACTURERS DO NOT HAVE THE ENGINEERING CAPABILITY OF DESIGNING TOW TRACTORS FOR MEETING GOVERNMENT SPECIFICATIONS AND SUBMITS HOUGH COMPANY CALCULATIONS IN AN EFFORT TO PROVE THAT OTHER MANUFACTURERS DO NOT CONFORM WITH THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS.

"3. CHIEF, BUREAU OF NAVAL WEAPONS DOES NOT CONCUR THAT THE FORMULAE USED BY THE HOUGH COMPANY ARE CONCLUSIVE IN COMPUTING ACTUAL CONFORMANCE OF PROPOSED EQUIPMENTS TO MEET DRAWBAR PULL REQUIREMENTS. THE METHODS USED BY THE ARMY, NAVY AND AIR FORCE TO EVALUATE DRAWBAR PULL CAPABILITIES ON PROPOSED EQUIPMENTS ARE NOT RESTRICTED TO THE FORMULAE CITED BY THE HOUGH COMPANY NOR SHOULD THEY BE. THE SUMMARY ON DETERMINATION OF DRAWBAR PULL * * * ALLOWING ADEQUATE WEIGHT ON FRONT WHEELS FOR STEERING, CONFORMS TO THE PROCEDURES NORMALLY USED BY THE ARMED SERVICES FOR ADVANCE DETERMINATION OF DRAWBAR PULL OBTAINABLE. PERFORMANCE AND TEST SPECIFICATIONS ARE THEN INVOKED FOR EVALUATING ACTUAL DRAWBAR PULL ON THE PRODUCT AS ACTUALLY BUILT BY A CONTRACTOR AND SUBMITTED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION.

"4. THE INCONSISTENCY OF UTILIZING THE HOUGH COMPANY APPROACH AS THE SOLE MEANS FOR EVALUATION OF DRAWBAR PULL CAPABILITIES CONTAINED IN QUOTATIONS OF PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS IS FURTHER DEMONSTRATED BY THE FOLLOWING. THERE ARE LARGE QUANTITIES OF VARIOUS TYPES OF HOUGH COMPANY TRACTORS NOW IN NAVY SERVICE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN REJECTED AT BID EVALUATION IF DRAWBAR PULL CAPABILITIES WERE EVALUATED EXCLUSIVELY BY USE OF CRITERIA OR METHODS CITED BY HOUGH COMPANY * * *. FURTHER, THESE SAME TRACTORS WHEN EVALUATED ON THE BASIS OF NAVY METHODS PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION AND WHEN SUBSEQUENTLY BUILT, INSPECTED, AND ACTUALLY TESTED AGAINST APPLICABLE SPECIFICATIONS HAVE EQUALLED OR EXCEEDED DRAWBAR PULL REQUIREMENTS SPECIFIED.'

IN CASES WHERE, AS HERE, THERE IS INVOLVED A QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE EQUIPMENT OFFERED BY A BIDDER WILL MEET THE TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS OF A SPECIFICATION, THE MATTER IS ONE PRIMARILY FOR DETERMINATION BY THE PROCURING AGENCY SINCE OUR OFFICE DOES NOT EMPLOY TECHNICAL PERSONNEL FOR SUCH PURPOSES AND WE MUST RELY ON A DETERMINATION SO MADE UNLESS IT IS ABUNDANTLY CLEAR THAT THE DETERMINATION IS ARBITRARY OR ERRONEOUS. NOTHING APPEARS IN THIS CASE WHICH WOULD WARRANT OUR OFFICE IN DISAGREEING WITH THE DETERMINATION SO MADE.