B-160856, MAR. 16, 1967

B-160856: Mar 16, 1967

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TO TRADERS DISTRIBUTING COMPANY INC.: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 8. SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REJECTED AS NONRESPONSIVE. EIGHT BIDS WERE RECEIVED AND OPENED ON JANUARY 16. IT WAS DETERMINED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER THAT NONE OF THE BIDS SUBMITTED WAS RESPONSIVE TO THE INVITATION AND THE REQUIREMENTS OF SUCH INVITATION WERE SUBSEQUENTLY READVERTISED. WE ADVISED YOU THAT OUR OFFICE DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY SOLELY BY VIRTUE OF RECEIPT OF A PROTEST TO DIRECT THAT FURTHER PROCUREMENT ACTION OR AWARD BE HELD IN ABEYANCE PENDING CONSIDERATION OF THE PROTEST. THE PRIME REASON FOR THE REJECTION OF YOUR BID WAS THAT IT WAS INSCRIBED WITH A RUBBER STAMP SIGNATURE (WM. THERE WAS NO MANUAL SIGNATURE.

B-160856, MAR. 16, 1967

TO TRADERS DISTRIBUTING COMPANY INC.:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 8, 1967, WITH ENCLOSURES, PROTESTING THAT YOUR UNSIGNED BID SUBMITTED UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. DAFAO3-67-B-0013, ISSUED BY THE PURCHASING AND CONTRACTING DIVISION, FORT RICHARDSON, ALASKA, SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REJECTED AS NONRESPONSIVE.

THE SUBJECT INVITATION, ISSUED ON NOVEMBER 22, 1966, AND SUBSEQUENTLY AMENDED, SOLICITED BIDS FOR FURNISHING SUPPLIES AND RELATED INSPECTION, ENGINEER AND INSTRUCTION SERVICES FOR A WATER TREATMENT SYSTEM AT DONJEK AND TIMBER STATIONS, IN ACCORD WITH LISTED SPECIFICATIONS. EIGHT BIDS WERE RECEIVED AND OPENED ON JANUARY 16, 1967. UPON EXAMINATION OF THE BIDS RECEIVED, IT WAS DETERMINED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER THAT NONE OF THE BIDS SUBMITTED WAS RESPONSIVE TO THE INVITATION AND THE REQUIREMENTS OF SUCH INVITATION WERE SUBSEQUENTLY READVERTISED. AS YOU KNOW, IN OUR LETTER OF MARCH 7, 1967, IN ANSWER TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 27, 1967, QUESTIONING THE AUTHORITY OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO READVERTISE THIS PROCUREMENT, WE ADVISED YOU THAT OUR OFFICE DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY SOLELY BY VIRTUE OF RECEIPT OF A PROTEST TO DIRECT THAT FURTHER PROCUREMENT ACTION OR AWARD BE HELD IN ABEYANCE PENDING CONSIDERATION OF THE PROTEST.

THE PRIME REASON FOR THE REJECTION OF YOUR BID WAS THAT IT WAS INSCRIBED WITH A RUBBER STAMP SIGNATURE (WM. R. CLARK) IN THE SPACE PROVIDED FOR THE SIGNATURE OF THE PERSON AUTHORIZED TO SIGN FOR YOUR FIRM. THERE WAS NO MANUAL SIGNATURE, AND THE BID WAS NOT ACCOMPANIED BY ANY SUPPORTING EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT YOUR FIRM HAD ADOPTED OR AUTHORIZED THE EXECUTION OF DOCUMENTS BY RUBBER STAMP SIGNATURE. IT WAS THEREFORE CONCLUDED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER THAT THE BID WAS NONRESPONSIVE AND YOUR BID WAS REJECTED.

IN YOUR PROTEST YOU CONTEND THAT YOUR USE OF THE RUBBER STAMP SIGNATURE WAS MERELY A MINOR IRREGULARITY OR INFORMALITY, AND THAT, IN ANY EVENT, IT WAS INCUMBENT ON THE CONTRACTING OFFICER AFTER BID OPENING TO REQUEST PROOF FROM YOU THAT YOUR USE OF A RUBBER STAMP SIGNATURE WAS PROPER AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR CORPORATION RESOLUTIONS BY BY-LAWS TO THAT EFFECT. TO THIS END, YOU NOW SUBMIT TO OUR OFFICE A NOTARIZED STATEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 8, 1967, STATING IN PART AS OLLOWS:

"I, WILLIAM R. CLARK, BEING THE DULY AUTHORIZED CORPORATE SECRETARY OF TRADERS DISTRIBUTING COMPANY, INC., A DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CORPORATION, DO HEREBY SET FORTH THE FOLLOWING:

"IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RESOLUTION APPROVED BY THE OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS OF TRADERS DISTRIBUTING COMPANY, INC., THE USE OF A RUBBER SIGNATURE STAMP BEARING MY SIGNATURE IS APPROVED AND AUTHORIZED INSOFAR AS BY SAID CORPORATION, ANY AND ALL TRANSACTIONS ARE CONCERNED.'

WE NOTE THAT THIS STATEMENT IS DATED FEBRUARY 8, 1967, AND WAS NOT IN EVIDENCE WHEN YOUR BID WAS OPENED ON JANUARY 16, 1967, AND OBVIOUSLY COULD NOT HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR BID AS SUBMITTED.

PARAGRAPH 2-405 (III) OF THE ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION PROVIDES THAT A BIDDER SHALL BE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO CORRECT THE FAILURE TO SIGN HIS BID ONLY IF---

"/A) THE FIRM SUBMITTING THE BID HAS FORMALLY ADOPTED OR AUTHORIZED THE EXECUTION OF DOCUMENTS BY TYPEWRITTEN PRINTED, OR RUBBER STAMPED SIGNATURE AND SUBMITS EVIDENCE OF SUCH AUTHORIZATION AND THE BID CARRIES SUCH A SIGNATURE, OR

"/B) THE UNSIGNED BID IS ACCOMPANIED BY OTHER MATERIAL INDICATING THE BIDDER'S INTENTION TO BE BOUND BY THE UNSIGNED BID DOCUMENT SUCH AS THE SUBMISSION OF A BID GUARANTEE WITH BID, OR A LETTER SIGNED BY THE BIDDER WITH THE BID REFERRING TO AND CLEARLY IDENTIFYING THE BID ITSELF; "

THIS REGULATION IS IN ACCORD WITH DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE WHICH HAVE HELD THAT THE ONLY MANUALLY UNSIGNED BIDS BEARING A TYPEWRITTEN, PRINTED, OR RUBBER STAMPED SIGNATURE THAT MAY BE CONSIDERED FOR AWARD ARE THOSE ACCOMPANIED BY SOME DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE SHOWING A CLEAR INTENT TO SUBMIT A BID. 36 COMP. GEN. 523 AND 17 ID. 497. WHEN THE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE IS NOT PRESENT AND THE BID MERELY CONTAINS THE STAMPED OR PRINTED NAME AND ADDRESS OF A COMPANY OUR OFFICE HAS HELD THAT THE BID SHOULD BE REJECTED. 34 COMP. GEN. 439; B-160125, NOVEMBER 25, 1966; B-157637, OCTOBER 27, 1965; B-151724, JULY 15, 1963; AND B-150459, MARCH 6, 1963 (COPY ENCLOSED).

THE REASONING BEHIND THIS RULE IS THAT WHEN A BID LACKS A PROPER SIGNATURE, AND THERE IS NO OTHER CLEAR INDICATION IN THE BID SUBMISSION THAT THE PURPORTED BIDDER INTENDED TO SUBMIT THE BID, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER HAS NO ASSURANCE THAT THE BID WAS SUBMITTED BY SOMEONE WITH AUTHORITY TO BIND THE BIDDER. FOR THAT REASON, ACCEPTANCE OF SUCH A BID WOULD NOT HAVE AUTOMATICALLY OBLIGATED THE NAMED BIDDER TO PERFORM THE CONTRACT ADVERTISED. THE TEST IN CASES WHERE BIDS ARE NOT MANUALLY SIGNED IS WHETHER THE BID AS SUBMITTED WILL RESULT IN A BINDING CONTRACT UPON ACCEPTANCE OF THE BID BY THE GOVERNMENT WITHOUT CONFIRMATION OF THE BIDDER'S INTENTION. IF THE BIDDER CHOOSES TO REMAIN SILENT AFTER THE OPENING OF BIDS HE COULD DISAVOW THE BID BECAUSE OF THE ABSENCE OF A SIGNATURE. THIS WOULD PLACE HIM IN A POSITION TO MAKE AN ELECTION EITHER TO ABIDE BY HIS BID OR TO CLAIM THAT THE BID WAS SUBMITTED IN ERROR BY A PERSON WITHOUT AUTHORITY TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS ON BEHALF OF A BIDDER. THIS WOULD GIVE HIM MORE THAN ONE CHANCE UNDER THE SAME INVITATION. COMP. GEN. 393, 394, 395. MOREOVER, WHEN A BID IS NONRESPONSIVE IN A MATERIAL RESPECT, IT CANNOT BE CORRECTED EVEN THOUGH THE NONRESPONSIVENESS MAY BE DUE TO MISTAKE OR OVERSIGHT. 38 COMP. GEN. 819; B-160125, NOVEMBER 25, 1966.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S REJECTION OF YOUR BID WAS PROPER AND YOUR PROTEST MUST THEREFORE BE DENIED.