B-161876, OCT. 20, 1967

B-161876: Oct 20, 1967

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

REJECTION OF LOW BID FOR FAILURE OF BIDDER TO SUPPLY TRANSPORTATION DATA WHEN SUCH FAILURE TO DID NOT PRECLUDE AN ACCURATE EVALUATION OF GOVERNMENT'S TRANSPORTATION COSTS UNDER SUCH BID IS NOT PROPER. THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DID NOT ACT IN GOOD FAITH. SECRETARY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED AUGUST 29. - WAS FOR M149 AND M625 POTABLE WATER TANK TRAILERS AND REQUESTED FOB ORIGIN BIDS ON AN ALL OR NONE BASIS. VARIOUS TENTATIVE DESTINATIONS WERE LISTED FOR PURPOSE OF BID EVALUATION ONLY. BIDDERS WERE WARNED THAT ANY BIDS FAILING TO FURNISH ALL TRANSPORTATION DATA ON THE ATTACHED OTA FORM 1257. THAT THE MODE OF COMMON CARRIER AND THE TYPES AND SIZES OF COMMON CARRIER EQUIPMENT WERE RESERVED TO THE GOVERNMENT.

B-161876, OCT. 20, 1967

BIDS - DEVIATIONS - DELIVERY PROVISIONS DECISION TO SECY. OF THE ARMY CONCERNING PROTEST BY BEVERLY MANUFACTURING CO. TO AWARD TO CASE-MASTER BODY, INC. FOR WATER TANK TRAILERS BY U.S. ARMY TANK AUTOMOTIVE CENTER. REJECTION OF LOW BID FOR FAILURE OF BIDDER TO SUPPLY TRANSPORTATION DATA WHEN SUCH FAILURE TO DID NOT PRECLUDE AN ACCURATE EVALUATION OF GOVERNMENT'S TRANSPORTATION COSTS UNDER SUCH BID IS NOT PROPER. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF STATUS OF PERFORMANCE OF THE CONTRACT, THE SUBSTANTIAL COSTS INCURRED BY THE CONTRACTOR, THE PRIORITY NATURE OF THE PROCUREMENT, AND THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DID NOT ACT IN GOOD FAITH, THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GOVT. DO NOT REQUIRE CANCELLATION OF THE CONTRACT. CORRECTIVE ACTION CONCERNING INVITATIONS ON F.O.B. ORIGIN BASIS SHOULD BE TAKEN. A DETERMINATION WHETHER A BIDDER SUBMITTED SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO PERMIT TRANSPORTATION EVALUATION SHOULD BE MADE BY TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL RATHER THAN BY PROCUREMENT PERSONNEL BEFORE REFERRAL FOR TRANSPORTATION EVALUATION.

TO MR. SECRETARY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED AUGUST 29, 1967, FROM THE ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF PROCUREMENT AND PRODUCTION, AND TO A SUPPLEMENTAL LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 25, 1967, FROM F. X. MCKENNA, ASSISTANT GENERAL COUNSEL, HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES ARMY MATERIEL COMMAND, FURNISHING OUR OFFICE WITH REPORTS ON THE PROTEST OF THE BEVERLY MANUFACTURING CORPORATION (BEVERLY) AGAINST AN AWARD MADE TO CASE-MASTER BODY, INC. (CASE-MASTER), UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. DA AE07-67-B-2214, ISSUED BY THE UNITED STATES ARMY TANK AUTOMOTIVE CENTER (ATAC), ON FEBRUARY 27, 1967.

THE INVITATION--- ISSUED ON A SMALL BUSINESS RESTRICTED BASIS--- WAS FOR M149 AND M625 POTABLE WATER TANK TRAILERS AND REQUESTED FOB ORIGIN BIDS ON AN ALL OR NONE BASIS. VARIOUS TENTATIVE DESTINATIONS WERE LISTED FOR PURPOSE OF BID EVALUATION ONLY, AND BIDDERS WERE WARNED THAT ANY BIDS FAILING TO FURNISH ALL TRANSPORTATION DATA ON THE ATTACHED OTA FORM 1257, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF VEHICLE DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHTS, WOULD BE REJECTED AS NONRESPONSIVE. FURTHER, OTA FORM 1257 CONTAINED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT: "NOTE: CAR SIZES AND THE QUANTITY OF VEHICLES PER RAIL CAR MUST BE SHOWN.' THE INVITATION SPECIFIED, HOWEVER, THAT THE MODE OF COMMON CARRIER AND THE TYPES AND SIZES OF COMMON CARRIER EQUIPMENT WERE RESERVED TO THE GOVERNMENT. THE INVITATION FURTHER PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 6D OF SECTION D FOR A REDUCTION OF THE CONTRACT PRICE BY THE AMOUNT OF ANY INCREASE IN TRANSPORTATION COSTS CAUSED BY THE NONAVAILABILITY OF THE TRANSPORTATION CHARACTERISTICS STATED BY THE SUCCESSFUL BIDDER IF SUCH INCREASE IS

BIDS WERE OPENED ON MAY 9, 1967, AND THE LOWEST BID WAS RECEIVED CAUSED BY CIRCUMSTANCES WITHIN THE SUCCESSFUL BIDDER'S CONTROL. FROM BEVERLY IN THE AMOUNT OF $5,783,816.94. CASE-MASTER SUBMITTED THE NEXT LOWEST BID IN THE AMOUNT OF $6,808,908.44. THE OTA FORM 1257 SUBMITTED BY BEVERLY WITH ITS BID LISTED LOADING CHARGES FOR EACH OF THE TYPES OF RAILROAD CARS OR MOTOR TRUCKS TO WHICH IT WOULD HAVE ACCESS, BUT IT FAILED TO LIST THE SIZES OF CARS AND TRUCKS TO BE USED, THE NUMBER OF CONTRACT UNITS TO BE PLACED ON EACH CAR OR TRUCK, THE NAMES OF PROPOSED CARRIERS, OR THE FOB POINT, AS REQUIRED BY FORM 1257. THE FOB POINT, HOWEVER, WAS LISTED ELSEWHERE IN ITS BID AS MIAMI, FLORIDA. THE PROCUREMENT BUYER DETERMINED "THAT NO TRANSPORTATION EVALUATION COULD BE RELIABLY MADE OF THE BEVERLY BID AND THAT BASED ON THE IFB LANGUAGE THIS OMISSION WAS A MATERIAL DEVIATION CAUSING THEIR BID TO BE NONRESPONSIVE.' THE LOW EVALUATED BID, AFTER REJECTION OF THE BEVERLY BID, WAS THAT OF CASE-MASTER IN THE AMOUNT OF $7,881,057.22. AWARD WAS MADE TO CASE-MASTER IN THE AMOUNT OF $6,864,633.44, INCLUDING LOADING CHARGES, ON JUNE 23, 1967.

IT IS BEVERLY'S CONTENTION THAT ITS FAILURE TO SUBMIT COMPLETE TRANSPORTATION DATA WAS A MINOR DEVIATION WHICH SHOULD NOT HAVE REQUIRED THE REJECTION OF ITS BID AS NONRESPONSIVE, NOTWITHSTANDING THE IMPERATIVE INVITATION LANGUAGE THAT FAILURE TO SUBMIT SUCH DATA WOULD RENDER SUCH A BID NONRESPONSIVE. THE BASIS FOR THIS CONTENTION IS THAT THE CHOICE OF TRANSPORTATION MODE, ETC., WAS RESERVED TO THE GOVERNMENT BY THE TERMS OF THE INVITATION, AND THAT THE OMITTED TRANSPORTATION DATA WERE KNOWN TO THE GOVERNMENT AS A RESULT OF PRIOR PROCUREMENTS OF THE IDENTICAL VEHICLES. THEREFORE, BEVERLY MAINTAINS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAD SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO EVALUATE ITS BID AND THAT SINCE THE DETERMINATION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S ESTIMATED TRANSPORTATION COSTS WAS THE ONLY REASON FOR REQUIRING TRANSPORTATION DATA, BEVERLY'S BID PROPERLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN DETERMINED TO BE RESPONSIVE. IN SUPPORT OF THIS POSITION, DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE ARE CITED WHICH HOLD GENERALLY THAT THE SOLE REASON FOR THE INCLUSION OF A REQUIREMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION DATA IN AN FOB ORIGIN INVITATION IS TO ENABLE THE GOVERNMENT TO DETERMINE ITS TOTAL EVENTUAL COSTS FOR PURPOSES OF BID EVALUATION AND THAT WHERE THE GOVERNMENT IS ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO DETERMINE TRANSPORTATION COSTS, THE FAILURE OF A BIDDER TO SUBMIT THE REQUIRED DATA WILL BE REGARDED AS A MINOR DEVIATION, NOTWITHSTANDING IMPERATIVE INVITATION LANGUAGE TO THE CONTRARY.

THE LETTER OF AUGUST 29, 1967, SUBMITTING THE REPORT TO OUR OFFICE RECOGNIZES THAT IN VIEW OF PRIOR DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE (42 COMP. GEN. 434, 43 ID. 613, B-156461, JUNE 14, 1965) "IT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN PROPER FOR THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO REJECT THE BID OF THE BEVERLY MANUFACTURING CORPORATION ON THE BASIS OF NONRESPONSIVENESS.' THE LETTER GOES ON, HOWEVER, TO RECOMMEND THAT THE AWARD TO CASE-MASTER SHOULD NOT BE DISTURBED SINCE, APART FROM THE TRANSPORTATION DATA DEFICIENCIES, BEVERLY PROBABLY INACCURATELY ESTIMATED ITS FEDERAL EXCISE TAX LIABILITY; A LARGE DIFFERENTIAL EXISTED BETWEEN SUPPLIER PRICE QUOTES SUBMITTED BY BEVERLY AND CASE-MASTER, SUGGESTING THE POSSIBILITY OF A MISTAKE ON THE PART OF BEVERLY; ESTIMATED DAMAGES PAYABLE TO CASE-MASTER IN THE EVENT OF CANCELLATION WOULD TOTAL $750,000; THE TRAILERS ARE "URGENTLY NEEDED" AND CASE-MASTER IS SUBSTANTIALLY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.

WITH REGARD TO THE EXCISE TAX MATTER, BEVERLY HAS ADVISED US THAT ITS 7 PERCENT FIGURE IS BASED ON AN INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE RULING. ALSO, BEVERLY ADAMANTLY MAINTAINS THAT ITS SUPPLIER PRICE QUOTES ARE CORRECT AND POINTS OUT THAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BOUND TO BOTH THE TAX FIGURE AND THE SUPPLIER PRICE QUOTES HAD IT RECEIVED THE AWARD. IN VIEW OF BEVERLY'S POSITION THAT NO MISTAKES WERE MADE IN ITS BID, IT WOULD NOT APPEAR THAT THE ABOVE MATTERS HAVE ANY BEARING AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE INSTANT CONTRACT WAS PROPERLY AWARDED. THE ADVICES OF URGENCY AND OF ESTIMATED DAMAGES WERE AMPLIFIED IN A LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 25, 1967, FROM THE ASSISTANT GENERAL COUNSEL, HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES ARMY MATERIEL COMMAND, AND ARE DISCUSSED LATER IN THIS DECISION.

IN OUR OPINION, BEVERLY'S OMISSION OF THE TRANSPORTATION DATA WAS A MINOR DEVIATION AND DID NOT REQUIRE THE REJECTION OF THE BID AS NONRESPONSIVE. THE CLEAR IMPORT OF THE THREE DECISIONS CITED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT, ALL OF WHICH INVOLVED ATAC PROCUREMENTS, IS THAT SO LONG AS SUFFICIENT INFORMATION IS SUBMITTED WITH A BID TO ENABLE AN EVALUATION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S TRANSPORTATION COSTS AND TO GUARANTEE ANY COSTS OVER WHICH THE CONTRACTOR RATHER THAN THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE CONTROL, THE BID SHOULD NOT BE REJECTED FOR FAILURE TO CONFORM TO STATED MANDATORY TRANSPORTATION DATA REQUIREMENTS.

IN 42 COMP. GEN. 434, THE BIDDER FAILED TO SUBMIT TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES DATA AS REQUIRED BY THE INVITATION ALTHOUGH THE INVITATION STATED THAT FAILURE TO SUBMIT THE DATA WOULD RENDER THE BID NONRESPONSIVE. THE DECISION DREW A DISTINCTION "BETWEEN DATA WHICH REPRESENT A RELATIVELY FREE CHOICE BY THE BIDDER, AND DATA WHICH THE BIDDER FURNISHES FOR GENERAL INFORMATION AND WITH RESPECT TO WHICH THERE IS NO NEED FOR A BIDDER TO MAKE A CHOICE," AND CAUTIONED AGAINST "AUTOMATIC REJECTION OF A BID BECAUSE OF A FAILURE TO CONFORM TO A PURELY TECHNICAL OR OVERLITERAL READING OF THE STATED REQUIREMENTS.' THE DECISION CONCLUDED THAT SINCE THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE BIDDER WAS TO CHOOSE THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION TO BE USED, THE BIDDER'S FAILURE TO SUBMIT THE DATA DID NOT RENDER THE BID NONRESPONSIVE.

IN 43 COMP. GEN. 613 THE INVITATION REQUIRED THE SUBMISSION OF DATA CONCERNING TRANSPORTATION CHARACTERISTICS. THE BIDDER PROPOSED A LOADING PATTERN WHICH WAS NOT THE MOST ECONOMICAL AVAILABLE AND WHICH WOULD CAUSE HIS BID WHEN EVALUATED TO NOT BE LOW. HOWEVER, THE GOVERNMENT WAS AWARE OF A MORE EFFICIENT LOADING PATTERN WHICH WOULD MAKE THE BID LOW AFTER EVALUATION. THE DECISION CONCLUDED THAT THE BID HAD TO BE EVALUATED ON THE BASIS OF THE LESS COSTLY LOADING PATTERN IN ORDER TO CONFORM TO ASPR 1 -1305.4, WHICH REQUIRES EVALUATION ON THE BASIS OF THE LOWEST OVERALL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. THE DECISION FURTHER STATED "* * * IT APPEARS THAT PLACING THE ENTIRE RESPONSIBILITY OF STIPULATING LOADING CHARACTERISTICS ON BIDDERS WHERE OPTIMUM LOADING CHARACTERISTICS ARE KNOWN TO THE GOVERNMENT, AS INDICATED BY THE PRIOR PROCUREMENTS OF THIS ITEM, WOULD NOT BE CONSISTENT WITH THE INTENT OF 10 U.S.C. 2305 (C).' THE CITED STATUTE REQUIRES AWARD TO THE BIDDER WHOSE BID CONFORMS TO THE INVITATION AND IS MOST ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED.

THE THIRD CITED DECISION, B-156461, JUNE 14, 1965, INVOLVED A SITUATION IN WHICH THE LOW BIDDER SUBMITTED AN IMPOSSIBLE LOADING PATTERN AND AN UNREALISTICALLY LOW LOADING CHARGE. THE BIDDER FURTHER FAILED TO STATE THE SIZES OF CARRIERS' EQUIPMENT WHICH HE PROPOSED TO USE, AS REQUIRED BY THE INVITATION. IN THAT CASE, IT WAS HELD THAT ALTHOUGH THE ACTUAL LOADING CHARGES OBVIOUSLY WOULD EXCEED THOSE STIPULATED IN THE BID BECAUSE A LOADING PATTERN OTHER THAN THE ONE STATED IN THE BID WOULD HAVE TO BE USED, EVALUATION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S TRANSPORTATION COSTS STILL WAS POSSIBLE IN VIEW OF THE BIDDER'S GUARANTEE OF LOADING CHARGES. WITH REFERENCE TO THE IMPOSSIBLE LOADING CHARACTERISTICS OFFERED BY THE BIDDER, WE HELD THAT LIKE THE GUARANTEE OF MAXIMUM WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS, SUCH LOADING CHARACTERISTICS CAN BE DELIBERATELY UNDERSTATED FOR PURPOSES OF COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE AND STILL BE BINDING, CONSIDERING THAT THE BIDDER IS OBLIGATED TO PAY ANY CHARGES IN EXCESS OF THOSE GUARANTEED BY THE LOADING CHARACTERISTICS.

IN THE CASE AT HAND, INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO MAXIMUM WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS WAS ALREADY KNOWN TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THE FURNISHING OF SUCH INFORMATION WAS SPECIFICALLY EXEMPTED BY OTA FORM 1257. FURTHER, THE GOVERNMENT KNEW HOW MANY TRAILERS COULD BE LOADED ON A PARTICULAR SIZE CAR FROM PAST EXPERIENCE WITH IDENTICAL TRAILERS. THEREFORE, THE GOVERNMENT WAS ABLE TO DETERMINE THE LEAST COSTLY TRANSPORTATION METHOD, NOTWITHSTANDING BEVERLY'S FAILURE TO GUARANTEE ALL ELEMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION. ACCORDINGLY, THE ONLY INFORMATION NECESSARY FOR AN EVALUATION OF BEVERLY'S TRANSPORTATION COSTS WAS THE AMOUNT STIPULATED BY BEVERLY FOR LOADING CHARGES FOR EACH TYPE OF CAR TO WHICH IT WOULD HAVE ACCESS. THE FOREGOING WAS THE ONLY ELEMENT OF THE TRANSPORTATION COST OVER WHICH BEVERLY HAD CONTROL AND, THEREFORE, WAS THE ONLY ELEMENT AS TO WHICH A GUARANTEE BY THE BIDDER WAS NECESSARY. WHILE BEVERLY DID NOT SPECIFY CAR SIZES, ITS STATED LOADING CHARGES FOR EACH TYPE OF CAR WOULD BE BINDING UPON IT NO MATTER WHAT THE SIZE OF CAR WAS CHOSEN BY THE GOVERNMENT. FOR EXAMPLE, BEVERLY STIPULATED A LOADING CHARGE OF $12 PER VEHICLE FOR LOADING ON A CONVENTIONAL RAIL CAR. WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT CHOSE TO LOAD 3 VEHICLES ON A 41 FOOT 6 INCH CONVENTIONAL CAR OR 6 VEHICLES ON A 52 FOOT 6 INCH CONVENTIONAL CAR, ANY LOADING CHARGES IN EXCESS OF $12 PER VEHICLE WOULD HAVE TO BE BORNE BY BEVERLY SINCE THAT AMOUNT WAS GUARANTEED IN ITS BID.

IN THIS REGARD, IT IS NOTED THAT A TRANSPORTATION EVALUATION OF THE BEVERLY BID ACTUALLY WAS PERFORMED ON JUNE 29, 1967, AFTER BEVERLY PROTESTED AGAINST THE AWARD MADE TO CASE-MASTER, USING A PATTERN OF 3 TRAILERS TO BE LOADED ON A 41 FOOT 6 INCH CONVENTIONAL CAR AND FIGURING IN THE LOADING CHARGES GUARANTEED BY BEVERLY. WHILE THIS LOADING PATTERN DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE THE MOST FAVORABLE TO BEVERLY, IT RESULTED IN A TOTAL TRANSPORTATION COST, INCLUDING THE COST OF OCEAN TRANSPORTATION, OF $1,412,142.19, OR A TOTAL EVALUATED BID OF $7,195,959.13--- $685,098.09 LESS THAN THE EVALUATED BID OF CASE MASTER.

ADDITIONALLY, IN A MEMORANDUM DATED MAY 15, 1967, CONCERNING TRANSPORTATION EVALUATION, THE CHIEF, TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT DIVISION, STATED THAT EVALUATION OF ONE OF THE BIDS SUBMITTED WAS IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE NO LOADING INFORMATION WAS INCLUDED IN THE BID. WITH REGARD TO THE BEVERLY BID, HOWEVER, HE STATED THAT NO EVALUATION WAS PERFORMED "SINCE ADVICE WAS RECEIVED * * * THAT THIS BIDDER IS NONRESPONSIVE.' IMPLICIT IN THIS STATEMENT, WE THINK, IS THE FACT THAT THE BEVERLY BID WAS, IN FACT, CAPABLE OF BEING EVALUATED BUT THAT NO EVALUATION WAS PERFORMED BECAUSE OF THE ABOVE ADVICE RECEIVED FROM THE PROCUREMENT BUYER. THIS IMPLICATION IS REINFORCED BY THE FACT THAT A TRANSPORTATION EVALUATION ACTUALLY WAS PERFORMED AFTER THE AWARD HAD BEEN MADE TO CASE-MASTER AND AFTER THE AWARD HAD BEEN PROTESTED. FURTHER, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE DETERMINATION WHETHER A BIDDER HAD SUBMITTED SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO PERMIT A TRANSPORTATION EVALUATION SHOULD BE MADE BY TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL, AS WAS THE CASE WITH THE BID WHICH DID NOT STATE LOADING CHARGES, RATHER THAN BY PROCUREMENT PERSONNEL BEFORE REFERRAL FOR TRANSPORTATION EVALUATION.

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ABOVE CONSIDERATIONS, WE CONCLUDE THAT THE REJECTION OF THE BEVERLY BID WAS IMPROPER. HOWEVER, THE ASSISTANT GENERAL COUNSEL, HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES ARMY MATERIEL COMMAND, IN THE LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 25, 1967, MENTIONED ABOVE, STATES THAT AN 02 PRIORITY PRESENTLY EXISTS FOR 2,281 M149 TRAILERS OUT OF A TOTAL CONTRACT QUANTITY OF 2,882, AND FOR 458 M625 TRAILERS OUT OF A TOTAL CONTRACT QUANTITY OF 833. THE LETTER ALSO ADVISES THAT WHILE THE DELIVERY SCHEDULE DOES NOT REQUIRE DELIVERY BEFORE DECEMBER 30, 1967, CASE-MASTER PRESENTLY APPEARS ABLE TO MAKE DELIVERY IN LATE OCTOBER. FINALLY, THE LETTER SETS OUT THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO COSTS INCURRED BY CASE-MASTER: CURRENT CONTRACT AMOUNT $6,959,377.71

TOTAL PURCHASE ORDERS PLACED WITH SUBCONTRACTORS $5,058,105

OF THE ABOVE TOTAL:

PARTS ORDERED AND RECEIVED $416,683 PARTS ORDERED WITH DELIVERY IN 30 DAYS $346,000

PARTS ORDERED WITH DELIVERY IN 60 DAYS$554,000

OTHER COSTS INCURRED:

FACILITIES, TOOLING, ETC. $ 60,000

BURDEN:

JULY $ 16,388

AUGUST $ 16,705

IN VIEW OF THE STATUS OF CONTRACT PERFORMANCE, THE SUBSTANTIAL COSTS INCURRED BY THE CONTRACTOR, THE STATED PRIORITY NATURE OF A LARGE PORTION OF THE CONTRACT, AND THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DID NOT ACT IN GOOD FAITH, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT IT WOULD BE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO CANCEL THE CONTRACT WITH CASE-MASTER. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF OUR PRIOR DECISIONS IN THIS AREA, PARTICULARLY THE THREE DECISIONS DISCUSSED ABOVE, ALL INVOLVING ATAC PROCUREMENTS, WE CAN SEE NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THE REJECTION OF AN OTHERWISE RESPONSIVE LOW BID FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH TRANSPORTATION DATA PROVISIONS WHEN SUCH FAILURE DID NOT PRECLUDE AN ACCURATE EVALUATION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S ESTIMATED TRANSPORTATION COSTS UNDER SUCH LOW BID, ESPECIALLY WHERE THE REJECTION RESULTED IN AN AWARD TO OTHER THAN THE LOW BIDDER AT A COST TO THE GOVERNMENT OF MORE THAN $685,000. ACCORDINGLY, WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT APPROPRIATE STEPS BE TAKEN TO APPRISE CONTRACTING OFFICIALS OF THE BID EVALUATION PROCEDURES TO BE FOLLOWED IN DETERMINING THE RESPONSIVENESS OF BIDS UNDER SIMILAR INVITATIONS ISSUED ON AN FOB ORIGIN BASIS.