B-157543, NOV. 9, 1965

B-157543: Nov 9, 1965

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GENERAL NUCLEONICS CORPORATION: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS OF AUGUST 20 AND SEPTEMBER 13. WHILE YOU HAVE ALLEGED THAT THE TRANS-SONICS INDICATING SYSTEM IS OUTDATED BECAUSE IT MEASURES OIL QUANTITY AT ONLY TWO POINTS. THE NAVY HAS INDICATED THAT THE TRANS-SONICS SYSTEM IS CAPABLE OF CONTINUOUS MEASURING AND IS IN FACT INSTALLED AS SUCH A MEASURING DEVICE IN THE F 111 AIRCRAFT. THAT FOR THE F-4 AIRCRAFT IT WAS DECIDED EARLY IN 1963 THAT A TWO- POINT INDICATING SYSTEM WOULD BE PREFERABLE OVER A CONTINUOUS READING SYSTEM BECAUSE HIGH AND LOW LEVEL INDICATIONS WERE ALL THAT WERE NEEDED. IT IS REPORTED THAT BEFORE CHANGE ORDERS WERE ISSUED IN MAY 1965 TO INCORPORATE THE TRANS-SONICS SYSTEM INTO THE F-4 AIRCRAFT.

B-157543, NOV. 9, 1965

TO MR. D. E. WRIGHT, PRESIDENT, GENERAL NUCLEONICS CORPORATION:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS OF AUGUST 20 AND SEPTEMBER 13, 1965, PROTESTING THE ISSUANCE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY OF CHANGE ORDERS FOR A TRANS-SONICS OIL INDICATING SYSTEM FOR INSTALLATION IN NAVY F-4 AIRCRAFT.

WHILE YOU HAVE ALLEGED THAT THE TRANS-SONICS INDICATING SYSTEM IS OUTDATED BECAUSE IT MEASURES OIL QUANTITY AT ONLY TWO POINTS, THE NAVY HAS INDICATED THAT THE TRANS-SONICS SYSTEM IS CAPABLE OF CONTINUOUS MEASURING AND IS IN FACT INSTALLED AS SUCH A MEASURING DEVICE IN THE F 111 AIRCRAFT, BUT THAT FOR THE F-4 AIRCRAFT IT WAS DECIDED EARLY IN 1963 THAT A TWO- POINT INDICATING SYSTEM WOULD BE PREFERABLE OVER A CONTINUOUS READING SYSTEM BECAUSE HIGH AND LOW LEVEL INDICATIONS WERE ALL THAT WERE NEEDED. IN THAT CONNECTION, IT IS REPORTED THAT BEFORE CHANGE ORDERS WERE ISSUED IN MAY 1965 TO INCORPORATE THE TRANS-SONICS SYSTEM INTO THE F-4 AIRCRAFT, THE TRANS-SONICS SYSTEM WAS TESTED THOROUGHLY FOR MORE THAN 265 FLIGHT HOURS AND WAS DETERMINED TO BE HIGHLY DESIRABLE FOR SERVICE USE BY THE NAVAL AIR TEST CENTER. ADDITIONALLY, IT IS REPORTED THAT THE MEASURING SYSTEM HAS BEEN UTILIZED FOR SEVERAL THOUSAND HOURS AT PRATT AND WHITNEY AIRCRAFT WITHOUT A SINGLE FAILURE. FURTHER, THE NAVY DENIES YOUR CONTENTION THAT INSTALLATION OF THE TRANS-SONICS SYSTEM REQUIRES MODIFICATION OF THE ENGINE OIL TANKS. THE NAVY STATES THAT ALTHOUGH THE PROBES ARE INTERNALLY MOUNTED, THEY CAN BE ATTACHED EASILY WITHOUT ANY TANK CHANGES.

WITH REGARD TO YOUR CONTENTION THAT THE AIR FORCE HAS STANDARDIZED FOR ALL AIRCRAFT ON A NUCLEONIC OIL GAUGE AS SPECIFIED IN MILITARY SPECIFICATION MIL-Q-38338A, ENTITLED "OIL QUANTITY GAGE SYSTEMS, CONTINUOUS TRANSISTORIZED NUCLEONIC, GENERAL SPECIFICATION," THE NAVY HAS REPORTED THAT ITS INFORMATION IS THAT THE AIR FORCE HAS NO ESTABLISHED REQUIREMENT FOR EITHER A TWO-POINT WARNING OR CONTINUOUS OIL INDICATING SYSTEM FOR THE F-4 AND HAS MADE NO DETERMINATION AS TO WHAT WILL BE USED IN THE F-102 AND F-106. MOREOVER, IT IS STATED THAT BOTH THE AIR FORCE AND THE NAVY F-111 WILL USE THE TRANS-SONICS SYSTEM.

WITH REGARD TO YOUR SUGGESTION THAT THERE WOULD BE A LARGE COST SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT ON THE UNIT AND INSTALLATION COST IF YOUR SYSTEM WERE UTILIZED, OUR OFFICE HAS BEEN ADVISED THAT WHILE THE ENTIRE COST OF A TELEPANEL MODIFICATION HAS BEEN CHARGED AGAINST THE OIL QUANTITY SYSTEM, IN REALITY ONLY A PORTION OF THE COST IS DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE SYSTEM SINCE OTHER MODIFICATIONS ON THE PANEL WERE NEEDED FOR OTHER AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS AS WELL AND A SIMILAR COST WOULD HAVE TO BE ADDED TO YOUR COMPANY'S SYSTEM IF IT WERE INSTALLED. FURTHER WITH RESPECT TO YOUR STATEMENT THAT YOUR COMPANY IS SELLING ITS UNITS FOR $437 A UNIT WHEREAS THE NAVY IS PLANNING TO PAY OVER $1,100 A SYSTEM FOR THE TRANS-SONICS UNITS, THE NAVY POINTS OUT THAT A SYSTEM FOR THE F-4 AIRCRAFT IS MADE UP OF TWO UNITS SO THAT BEFORE COMPARING THE PRICES OF THE TWO SYSTEMS, YOUR COMPANY'S PRICE SHOULD BE DOUBLED. ON THAT BASIS THE NAVY CONSIDERS THE UNIT COST OF BOTH SYSTEMS COMPARABLE.

IN ANY EVENT, THE NAVY REPORTS THAT THE NUCLEONIC OIL INDICATING SYSTEM PROPOSED BY YOUR COMPANY FOR THE F-4 AIRCRAFT WOULD NOT BE ACCEPTABLE BECAUSE IT IS MOUNTED EXTERNAL TO THE OIL TANKS AND WOULD BE UNDULY EXPOSED TO DAMAGE. IN THAT REGARD, IT IS STATED THAT THERE IS ONLY ABOUT AN INCH CLEARANCE BETWEEN THE OIL TANKS AND THE ENGINE HOUSING AND IN PERFORMING ROUTINE ENGINE CHANGES, NAVY EXPERIENCE HAS INDICATED THAT THE OIL TANKS ARE FREQUENTLY DENTED. SINCE THE NUCLEONIC OIL INDICATING SYSTEM PROPOSED BY YOUR COMPANY IS EXTERNAL TO THE OIL TANKS, IT IS INDICATED THAT THEY MIGHT RECEIVE DAMAGE FROM ENGINE CHANGES AS WELL. FURTHER, IT IS STATED THAT THERE IS PRESENTLY NO SPACE AVAILABLE ON THE INSTRUMENT PANEL FOR THE OIL QUANTITY GAUGES WHICH WOULD BE NECESSARY. IS STATED THAT TO MAKE SPACE AVAILABLE BOTH FOR AN EXTERNALLY MOUNTED NUCLEONIC OIL INDICATING SYSTEM AND FOR RELATED OIL QUANTITY GAUGES WOULD REQUIRE SIGNIFICANT MODIFICATION OF THE STRUCTURE OF THE AIRCRAFT. FURTHERMORE, IT IS STATED THAT YOUR COMPANY'S SYSTEM IS NOT ON A QUALIFIED PRODUCTS LIST AND HAS NOT PASSED QUALIFICATION TESTS, SO THAT EVEN IF SPACE WERE AVAILABLE FOR INSTALLATION OF IT IN THE F-4 AIRCRAFT, THE NAVY WOULD HESITATE TO ORDER IT. IN THAT REGARD, THE NAVY STATES THE CHANGE ORDER CALLING FOR THE INSTALLATION OF THE TRANS-SONICS OIL INDICATING SYSTEM WAS NECESSITATED BY SAFETY-OF-FLIGHT CONSIDERATIONS AND FOR THIS REASON THE CHANGE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL THE QUALIFICATION OF YOUR COMPANY'S SYSTEM IS COMPLETED.

ESSENTIALLY WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THIS CASE IS A QUESTION OF WHETHER THE PRODUCT MANUFACTURED BY YOUR COMPANY OR THAT PRODUCED BY SOME OTHER COMPANY WOULD BE SATISFACTORY FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS. OUR OFFICE HAS LONG REGARDED THE ANSWER TO SUCH QUESTIONS AS FALLING WITHIN THE PREROGATIVE OF THE CONTRACTING AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT. IN THAT REGARD, OUR OFFICE STATED IN 36 COMP. GEN. 251, 252:

"THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR DRAFTING PROPER SPECIFICATIONS WHICH REFLECT THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND FOR DETERMINING FACTUALLY WHETHER ARTICLES OFFERED BY BIDDERS MEET THOSE SPECIFICATIONS IS PRIMARILY FOR ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES. 17 COMP. GEN. 554. WHILE IT IS THE DUTY OF THIS OFFICE TO DETERMINE WHETHER SPECIFICATIONS AS WRITTEN ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION, THE FACT THAT A PARTICULAR BIDDER MAY BE UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR SUPPLYING THE GOVERNMENT'S NEED IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO WARRANT A CONCLUSION THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE. 30 COMP. GEN. 368; 33 ID. 586. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT THE UNITED STATES PURCHASE EQUIPMENT MERELY BECAUSE IT IS OFFERED AT A LOWER PRICE, WITHOUT INTELLIGENT REFERENCE TO THE PARTICULAR NEEDS TO BE SERVED; NOR IS THE GOVERNMENT TO BE PLACED IN THE POSITION OF ALLOWING BIDDERS TO DICTATE SPECIFICATIONS WHICH WILL PERMIT ACCEPTANCE OF EQUIPMENT WHICH DOES NOT, IN THE CONSIDERED JUDGMENT OF THE CONTRACTING AGENCY, REASONABLY MEET THE AGENCY'S NEED.'

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ANY FURTHER ACTION IS REQUIRED BY OUR OFFICE IN THIS MATTER.