B-160571, JAN. 4, 1967

B-160571: Jan 4, 1967

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UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED DECEMBER 16. (OR CONTIGUOUS AREAS) WILL BE CONSIDERED.'. ONE IS IN WASHINGTON. ANOTHER IS IN ARLINGTON. IS LOCATED IN GAMBRILLS. YOUR AGENCY PROPOSES TO REJECT THE BID OF COLUMBIA PRESS FOR THE PRIMARY REASON THAT THE BIDDER IS CONSIDERED TO BE LOCATED OUTSIDE THE AREA PROVIDED FOR IN THE INVITATION SINCE GAMBILLS IS ABOUT 28 MILES FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. IT IS REPORTED THAT A TEST TRIP WAS MADE DURING LATE MORNING HOURS. A GOOD PART OF WHICH WAS MADE AT EXCESSIVE SPEEDS. THAT TRAFFIC CONDITIONS AT THAT TIME OF DAY WERE EXTREMELY FAVORABLE. THE TIME CONSUMED WAS 45 MINUTES. IT IS STATED THAT UNDER NORMAL OR RUSH HOUR CONDITIONS WHEN A TRIP TO THE COMPANY MIGHT BE NECESSARY.

B-160571, JAN. 4, 1967

TO DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED DECEMBER 16, 1966, WITH ENCLOSURES, FROM THE ACTING ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (ADMINISTRATION), REQUESTING A DECISION WHETHER THE LOW BID SUBMITTED BY COLUMBIA PRESS INCORPORATED UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS 67-76-04-P MAY BE REJECTED AS PROPOSED.

THE INVITATION DATED OCTOBER 14, 1966, SOLICITED BIDS FOR FURNISHING THE NECESSARY LABOR, MATERIALS AND SERVICES IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFSET PRINTING AND BINDING OF THE MONTHLY NEWS PAMPHLET, "USIA CORRESPONDENT.' ARTICLE IX IN THE INVITATION STATED:

"RESTRICTED AREA OF BIDDERS

"DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE REQUIREMENTS HEREUNDER REQUIRING CLOSE CONTACT BETWEEN THE AGENCY'S EDITOR OF USIA CORRESPONDENT AND THE PRINTER, ONLY BIDS FROM FIRMS LOCATED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. (OR CONTIGUOUS AREAS) WILL BE CONSIDERED.'

THREE COMPANIES BID FOR THE PROCUREMENT. ONE IS IN WASHINGTON, D.C., ANOTHER IS IN ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, AND THE THIRD, COLUMBIA PRESS INCORPORATED, IS LOCATED IN GAMBRILLS, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND. YOUR AGENCY PROPOSES TO REJECT THE BID OF COLUMBIA PRESS FOR THE PRIMARY REASON THAT THE BIDDER IS CONSIDERED TO BE LOCATED OUTSIDE THE AREA PROVIDED FOR IN THE INVITATION SINCE GAMBILLS IS ABOUT 28 MILES FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. IT IS REPORTED THAT A TEST TRIP WAS MADE DURING LATE MORNING HOURS, A GOOD PART OF WHICH WAS MADE AT EXCESSIVE SPEEDS, AND THAT TRAFFIC CONDITIONS AT THAT TIME OF DAY WERE EXTREMELY FAVORABLE. THE TIME CONSUMED WAS 45 MINUTES. IT IS STATED THAT UNDER NORMAL OR RUSH HOUR CONDITIONS WHEN A TRIP TO THE COMPANY MIGHT BE NECESSARY, IT WOULD TAKE CONSIDERABLY MORE THAN 45 MINUTES TO TRAVEL TO GAMBILLS. IN THAT CONNECTION, IT IS STATED THAT THE GEOGRAPHIC RESTRICTION WAS INCLUDED IN THE INVITATION BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN FOUND ESSENTIAL THAT THE PRINTER BE LOCATED CLOSE TO THE USIA EDITOR OF THE PAMPHLET SINCE LAST-MINUTE CHANGES SOUGHT TO BE ACCOMPLISHED WITHIN PUBLICATION DEADLINES FREQUENTLY REQUIRE THE EDITOR TO MAKE PERSONAL VISITS TO THE PRINTER.

COLUMBIA PRESS HAS CONTENDED THAT IT PLANNED TO SUBCONTRACT ITS TYPESETTING WORK TO ONE OF TWO COMPANIES IN WASHINGTON, D.C., AND THAT, IF THE USIA EDITOR HAD TO MAKE ANY CHANGES, THE TYPESETTING COMPANY WOULD BE CLOSE AT HAND. IT ALSO POINTS OUT THAT THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COMPANY TO WHICH YOUR AGENCY PROPOSES TO MAKE THE AWARD HAS INDICATED THAT IT WILL USE A TYPESETTER IN BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, WHICH IT SAYS IS MORE THAN 30 MINUTES FURTHER FROM WASHINGTON THAN GAMBILLS. HOWEVER, IT IS INDICATED IN THE LETTER THAT IT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THE USIA EDITOR OF THE PAMPHLET MUST HAVE CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE PRINTER RATHER THAN WITH THE TYPESETTER.

OUR OFFICE HAS RECOGNIZED THE RIGHT OF CONTRACTING AGENCIES TO RESTRICT CONTRACTS TO BIDDERS WITHIN PARTICULAR GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS WHEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE BEEN APPROPRIATE. B-150703, FEBRUARY 15, 1963. WHEN AN INVITATION PROVIDED THAT SERVICES SHALL BE PERFORMED IN THE WASHINGTON, D.C., METROPOLITAN AREA DEFINED IN THE INVITATION, OUR OFFICE AFFIRMED THE REJECTION OF A BID OFFERING TO PERFORM IN MASSACHUSETTS. B-153060, JANUARY 31, 1964. ON THE OTHER HAND, WHEN AN INVITATION RESERVED THE RIGHT TO REJECT ANY BIDS SUBMITTED BY COMPANIES NOT LOCATED IN PHILADELPHIA, OUR OFFICE RECOGNIZED THE RIGHT OF THE AGENCY TO AWARD A CONTRACT TO A BIDDER LOCATED ACROSS THE RIVER FROM PHILADELPHIA IN WILMINGTON, DELAWARE, SINCE UNDER THE INVITATION IT WAS WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICIALS TO REJECT A BID SUBMITTED BY A FIRM WHICH WAS NOT WITHIN THE NAMED GEOGRAPHICAL AREA. IN THAT CASE, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DETERMINED THAT THE BIDDER COULD MEET THE AGENCY'S NEEDS. B-129638, NOVEMBER 7, 1956. WHEN BIDDERS OUTSIDE THE METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON AREA PROPOSED EITHER TO SET UP FACILITIES IN OR TO UTILIZE THE PLANT OF ANOTHER COMPANY LOCATED WITHIN THE PRESCRIBED METROPOLITAN AREA, OUR OFFICE HAS INDICATED THAT THE BIDS SHOULD NOT BE REJECTED WHEN THE BIDDERS WERE OTHERWISE ACCEPTABLE. B-147728, JANUARY 31, 1962, AND B- 146323, SEPTEMBER 18, 1961.

AS OBSERVED ABOVE, THE IMMEDIATE INVITATION PROVIDED THAT THE PRINTER SHALL BE LOCATED IN WASHINGTON, D.C., OR CONTIGUOUS AREAS. IT IS REPORTED THAT THIS PROVISION WAS INCLUDED IN THE INVITATION BECAUSE CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE "PRINTER" WAS DETERMINED TO BE ESSENTIAL. THE LETTER OF DECEMBER 16 ALSO INDICATED THAT PRINCE GEORGES AND MONTGOMERY COUNTIES IN MARYLAND AND ARLINGTON AND FAIRFAX COUNTIES IN VIRGINIA WERE THE AREAS INTENDED UNDER THE TERMS OF THE INVITATION. HOWEVER, NO DEFINITION OF THE TERM "CONTIGUOUS AREAS" APPEARS IN THE INVITATION AND THE TERM COULD BE SUBJECT TO VARYING INTERPRETATIONS AND POSSIBLY MISLEAD BIDDERS. NONETHELESS, A RESTRICTIVE VIEW OF THIS TERM RATHER THAN A BROAD ONE WOULD SEEM TO BE MORE APPROPRIATE IN LIGHT OF THE REPRESENTATION IN THE INVITATION ARTICLE THAT THE REASON FOR THE GEOGRAPHICAL RESTRICTION IS THE NEED FOR CLOSE CONTACT BETWEEN THE USIA EDITOR AND THE PRINTER. AGAINST THIS BACKGROUND, THE DETERMINATION THAT COLUMBIA PRESS IS LOCATED OUTSIDE OF THE WASHINGTON, D.C., OR CONTIGUOUS AREAS APPEARS REASONABLE. ACCORDINGLY, OUR OFFICE WILL NOT OBJECT TO THE PROPOSED REJECTION OF THE BID.

HOWEVER, WE RECOMMEND THAT FUTURE INVITATIONS CONTAINING GEOGRAPHICAL LIMITATIONS CLEARLY DEFINE THE AREA ACCEPTABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT.