B-156698, JUL. 19, 1965

B-156698: Jul 19, 1965

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INC.: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 30. TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED. THE LOW BID WAS SUBMITTED BY YOU AND THE HIGHER BID OF $3. 628.36 FOR BOTH ITEMS WAS SUBMITTED BY NUCLEAR- CHICAGO CORPORATION. YOUR BID WAS SUBMITTED ON AN "OR EQUAL" BASIS WITH ACCOMPANYING LITERATURE THAT DESCRIBED YOUR EQUIPMENT AS CONFORMING TO THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS. YOUR BID WAS REJECTED ON THE GROUND THAT THE EQUIPMENT YOU PROPOSED TO FURNISH DOES NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS AND THE HIGHER BID OF NUCELAR-CHICAGO WAS ACCEPTED. DETAILED STATEMENTS OF TECHNICAL PERSONNEL (THREE IN NUMBER) AT FORT DETRICK WERE FORWARDED TO OUR OFFICE WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE REPORT ON YOUR PROTEST AND IN EACH STATEMENT VARIOUS FACTORS HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED WHICH TEND TO PROVE THAT THE EQUIPMENT YOU OFFERED DID NOT MEET THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS.

B-156698, JUL. 19, 1965

TO BAIRD-ATOMIC, INC.:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 30, 1965, PROTESTING THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER BIDDER UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. AMC (A) 18- 064-65-79 ISSUED BY THE UNITED STATES ARMY BIOLOGICAL LABORATORIES, FORT DETRICK, FREDERICK, MARYLAND.

THE INVITATION SOLICITED BIDS--- TO BE OPENED MARCH 25, 1965--- FOR FURNISHING A TRANSISTORIZED PREAMPLIFIER, NUCLEAR-CHICAGO MODEL 821330 OR EQUAL (ITEM 1) AND AN ANALYZER/SCALER, NUCLEAR-CHICAGO MODEL 8727 OR EQUAL (ITEM 2). TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED. THE LOW BID WAS SUBMITTED BY YOU AND THE HIGHER BID OF $3,628.36 FOR BOTH ITEMS WAS SUBMITTED BY NUCLEAR- CHICAGO CORPORATION. YOUR BID WAS SUBMITTED ON AN "OR EQUAL" BASIS WITH ACCOMPANYING LITERATURE THAT DESCRIBED YOUR EQUIPMENT AS CONFORMING TO THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS. HOWEVER, YOUR BID WAS REJECTED ON THE GROUND THAT THE EQUIPMENT YOU PROPOSED TO FURNISH DOES NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS AND THE HIGHER BID OF NUCELAR-CHICAGO WAS ACCEPTED.

ON APRIL 22, 1965, YOU WROTE THE CONTRACTING OFFICE PROTESTING THE REJECTION OF YOUR BID AND ON MAY 6, 1965, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER ADVISED YOU AS TO THE SEVERAL REASONS WHY HE CONSIDERED THAT YOUR EQUIPMENT DID NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS. ON MAY 13, 1965, YOU CONTENDED THAT AS TO THE FIVE POINTS OF ALLEGED DIFFERENCES YOUR EQUIPMENT EQUALED OR EXCEEDED THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS. DETAILED STATEMENTS OF TECHNICAL PERSONNEL (THREE IN NUMBER) AT FORT DETRICK WERE FORWARDED TO OUR OFFICE WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE REPORT ON YOUR PROTEST AND IN EACH STATEMENT VARIOUS FACTORS HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED WHICH TEND TO PROVE THAT THE EQUIPMENT YOU OFFERED DID NOT MEET THE ADVERTISED SPECIFICATIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE STATEMENT OF AN ELECTRONICS ENGINEER DATED MAY 26, 1965, IS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

"/1) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 1 OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, THE BAIRD COMPANY CLAIMS NO PRE-AMPLIFIER IS NEEDED BUT THE SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE EQUIPMENT OFFERED DOES NOT SHOW COMPLETE COMPATIBILITY WITH A DS-1A SCINTILLATION DETECTOR IN SUCH DETAIL AS CONNECTORS, VOLTAGE, POLARITY, ETC. THESE ARE CONSIDERED MATERIAL FACTORS IN THE OVERALL CAPABILITY, PARTICULARLY WITH REFERENCE TO SETTING UP THE EQUIPMENT AND OBTAINING MAXIMUM POTENTIAL RESULTS THEREFROM, IN THE PARTICULAR APPLICATION BEING PROCESSED.

"/2) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, THE EQUIPMENT OFFERED BY THE BAIRD COMPANY, MODEL530, DOES NOT HAVE A PERCENTAGE COMPUTER FOR MEDICAL UPTAKE PURPOSES ACCORDING TO THE PUBLISHED SPECIFICATIONS.

"/3) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2.A OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, THE MODEL 530 OFFERED BY THE BAIRD COMPANY AS DESCRIBED IN THE DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE DOES NOT SHOW THAT "INCORPORATED IN THE SCALER SECTION IS AN AUTOMATIC PERCENTAGE COMPUTER WITH NUMERIC READ-OUT," AND THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTIC OF PRODUCTS THAT WILL BE SATISFACTORY AND ACCEPTABLE UNDER THE "OR EQUAL" PROVISION OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS. CERTAINLY, SIMILAR RESULTS MAY BE CALCULATED FROM DATA OBTAINED "THROUGH DIRECT RATIO COMPUTATION" AS FROM "PERCENT TANDARD; " BUT, THIS IS A LOSS IN OPERATOR TIME AND CONVENIENCE TO ONE ACCUSTOMED TO THE LATTER. IT IS NOT APPARENT THAT THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT HAS A READ- OUT ON THE FRONT PANEL LABELLED "PERCENT.' IN OTHER WORDS, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE INVITATION FOR BIDS REQUIRES AN INSTRUMENT WITH AN AUTOMATIC COMPUTER BUILT IN AND LABELLED AS ABOVE, WHEREAS THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT LACKS THESE FEATURES AND REQUIRES THE OPERATOR TO MAKE MATHEMATICAL CALCULATIONS, ALL OF WHICH MAKES THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT DEFICIENT IN THIS RESPECT WHEN COMPARED WITH THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS.

"/4) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2.B OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, IT IS NOT APPARENT THAT THE PULSE HEIGHT ANALYZER OF THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT HAS A NARROW AND A WIDE WINDOW THAT MAY BE SELECTED BY THE OPERATOR. FURTHERMORE, THE COARSE AND FINE AMPLIFIER CONTROLS AS OFFERED BY THE BAIRD COMPANY ARE NOT REQUIRED BY THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS; AND IT WOULD, THEREFORE, BE PRESUMED THAT THEY ARE NOT A REQUIREMENT.

"/5) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2.C OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, THE TIMER MECHANISM ON THE INSTRUMENT OFFERED BY THE BAIRD COMPANY HAS A MINIMUM TIME IN THE MINUTE MODE OF 0.1 MINUTES; THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS INSTRUMENT HAS A MINIMUM TIME IN THE MINUTE MODE OF 0.01 MINUTES AND COVERS THE REQUIRED RANGE OF 0.01 TO 720 MINUTES (12 HOURS) WITHOUT BECOMING INVOLVED IN THE MEASUREMENT OF SECONDS. IN THE CASE OF THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT, IT IS NECESSARY TO INDULGE MATHEMATICAL CALCULATIONS WHEN OPERATING IN THE MINIMUM TIME RANGES, TO CONVERT TIME DATA IN SECONDS TO THE REQUIRED HUNDREDTHS OF A MINUTE.

"/6) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2.D OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT HAS A BACKGROUND SUBTRACT FEATURE BUT IT IS OBSCURE AND NOT HUMAN ENGINEERED TO MINIMIZE ERROR. THE INSTRUMENT DESCRIBED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS HAS THREE (3) DECADE SWITCHES OF THE SLIDE TYPE CLEARLY LABELLED "BKG SUBTRACT" THAT OPERATES ON A UNIT TIME BASIS AND COVERS REQUIREMENTS AS SPECIFIED.

"/7) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2.E OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, THE HIGH VOLTAGE SUPPLY OF THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT IS NOT CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE. THE DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE OF THE BAIRD COMPANY STATES THAT A COARSE CONTROL 10-POSITION SWITCH VARIES THE HIGH VOLTAGE IN 100 VOLT STEPS OR 150 VOLT STEPS; A FINE CONTROL 10-POSITION SWITCH VARIES THE HIGH VOLTAGE IN 10 VOLT STEPS OR 15 VOLT STEPS. THESE HIGH AND LOW VALUES OF INCREMENTAL CONTROL CAN BE VERY CONFUSING TO THE OPERATOR BECAUSE HE MUST CHECK AND ASSURE HIMSELF THAT THE PROPER HIGH AND LOW CONTROL SETTINGS HAVE BEEN MADE. SELECTION OF THE WRONG RANGE WILL GREATLY CHANGE THE VOLTAGE RESULTING IN SERIOUS ERROR. A COARSE CONTROL WITH A SINGLE RANGE IS BETTER HUMAN ENGINEERING AND THIS IS FOUND IN THE ITEM DESCRIBED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS. THE 5 MILLIAMPERE CURRENT CAPABILITY OF THE BAIRD HIGH VOLTAGE SUPPLY IS NOT REQUIRED AND IS NOT WANTED BECAUSE OF INCREASED SAFETY HAZARD. THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS POWER SUPPLY IS RATED AT 0.5 MILLIAMPERES MAXIMUM.

"/8) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2.F OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, A PRINTING LISTER IS SPECIFIED IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS. THE BAIRD COMPANY OFFERS IN THIS RESPECT A PARALLEL ENTRY PRINTER. THE PRINTING LISTER DESCRIBED IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS IS A COMPARATIVELY SIMPLE ARRANGEMENT OR A SIMPLE MECHANICAL DEVICE WHEN COMPARED WITH THE SAME FEATURES EMPLOYED BY THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT, BECAUSE A LESSER NUMBER OF PRINT WHEELS AND DIGITS MUST BE HANDLED IN ANY ONE PRINTING OPERATION BY THE FORMER.

"/9) WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH 2.G OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS, IT APPEARS TO ME, UNDER ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES PRESENT HERE, THAT THE B/A 530 ANALYZER/SCALER AND 620-2 PRINTER DOES NOT HAVE THE IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTICS SO AS TO MAKE IT THE EQUAL OF THE N/C 8727. IS POINTED OUT THAT BRAND NAME OR EQUAL DOES IN FACT INDICATE THE QUALITY AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PRODUCTS THAT WILL BE SATISFACTORY. THE B/A INSTRUMENT NOT ONLY DOES NOT MEET THE "OR EQUAL" TEST, BUT IT FAILS TO MEET A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS, AS DISCUSSED ABOVE.

"BASED UPON THE ABOVE CONSIDERATIONS, IT IS THE OPINION OF THE UNDERSIGNED THAT THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT DOES NOT MEET THE "OR EQUAL" REQUIREMENTS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS AND IS, IN FACT, AN INFERIOR INSTRUMENT TO THAT DESCRIBED IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS FROM THE STANDPOINT OF PERFORMANCE, EASE OF OPERATION AND OVERALL AUTOMATIC QUALITIES. THE MACHINE DESCRIBED IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS PORTRAYS AN INSTRUMENT DESIGNED TO WORK IN A MAN-MACHINE TEAM TO A MUCH GREATER DEGREE THAN THE BAIRD INSTRUMENT; AND IT IS APPARENT THAT THE DESIGNER OF THE INSTRUMENT DESCRIBED IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS AS GIVEN CAREFUL THOUGHT TO THE EASE OF OPERATION AND THE ARRANGEMENT OF CONTROLS TO MINIMIZE ACCIDENTAL ERRORS AND TO EMPHASIZE EASE OF OPERATION. ACCORDINGLY, IT IS MY OPINION THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER PROPERLY DETERMINED THAT THE BID OF THE BAIRD COMPANY WAS NON RESPONSIVE.'

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SPECIFICATIONS WHICH REFLECT THE MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE DETERMINATION OF WHETHER PRODUCTS OFFERED MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE MATTERS GENERALLY FOR DETERMINATION BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY CONCERNED. 38 COMP. GEN. 190. 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. THERE DOES NOT APPEAR ANYTHING IN THIS CASE WHICH WOULD WARRANT OUR OFFICE IN DISAGREEING WITH THE DETERMINATION SO MADE.