B-162616, NOV. 28, 1967

B-162616: Nov 28, 1967

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SECOND LOW BIDDER WHO CONTENDS THAT SPECIFICATIONS ARE AMBIGUOUS BECAUSE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS STATED THAT ITEM WAS TO BE FURNISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH DRAWING REQUIRING FINISHED MACHINE VALVE WHEREAS UNFINISHED CASTING WAS REQUIRED MAY NOT HAVE CONTENTION UPHELD SINCE MACHINERY TOLERANCES WERE ELIMINATED FROM THE DRAWINGS AND NO SUBSTITUTES WERE PROVIDED. THEREFORE THERE IS NO VALID BASIS FOR CONSTRUING SPECIFICATIONS TO REQUIRE A FINISHED CASTING. YOU CONTEND THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE AMBIGUOUS AS TO WHETHER MACHINING OF THE VALVE CASTING IS REQUIRED. 760.00 WAS SECOND LOW. 912.30 WAS SUBMITTED BY LEBANON STEEL FOUNDRY. A CONTRACT WAS AWARDED TO THE LEBANON STEEL FOUNDRY. ALLEGES THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE AMBIGUOUS BECAUSE THE RFQ STATES THE ITEM IS TO BE FURNISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH BUSHIPS DRAWING 501-2005434.

B-162616, NOV. 28, 1967

BIDS - SPECIFICATIONS - ADEQUACY DECISION TO HYDROMATICS, INC., SECOND LOW BIDDER, DENYING PROTEST TO AWARD TO LEBANON STEEL FOUNDRY BY PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD FOR VALVE CASTING FOR INSTALLATION ON SUBMARINE. SECOND LOW BIDDER WHO CONTENDS THAT SPECIFICATIONS ARE AMBIGUOUS BECAUSE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS STATED THAT ITEM WAS TO BE FURNISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH DRAWING REQUIRING FINISHED MACHINE VALVE WHEREAS UNFINISHED CASTING WAS REQUIRED MAY NOT HAVE CONTENTION UPHELD SINCE MACHINERY TOLERANCES WERE ELIMINATED FROM THE DRAWINGS AND NO SUBSTITUTES WERE PROVIDED. THEREFORE THERE IS NO VALID BASIS FOR CONSTRUING SPECIFICATIONS TO REQUIRE A FINISHED CASTING.

TO HYDROMATICS, INCORPORATED:

WE REFER TO YOUR TELEGRAM AND LETTER OF OCTOBER 3, 1967, PROTESTING AN AWARD TO LEBANON STEEL FOUNDRY OF LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA, UNDER REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS (RFQ) NO. N00102-68-Q-3165 ISSUED JULY 10, 1967, BY THE SUPPLY DEPARTMENT, PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD, PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE, TO PROCURE AN OUTBOARD INDUCTION VALVE BODY CASTING FOR INSTALLATION ABOARD A SUBMARINE. YOU CONTEND THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE AMBIGUOUS AS TO WHETHER MACHINING OF THE VALVE CASTING IS REQUIRED.

THREE OF THE TWELVE SUPPLIERS SOLICITED RESPONDED BY THE AMENDED CLOSING DATE OF JULY 31, 1967. YOUR FIRM'S OFFER AT $8,760.00 WAS SECOND LOW. THE LOW OFFER OF $5,912.30 WAS SUBMITTED BY LEBANON STEEL FOUNDRY.

ON SEPTEMBER 20, 1967, AFTER NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE OFFERORS, A CONTRACT WAS AWARDED TO THE LEBANON STEEL FOUNDRY, WHICH OFFERED THE EARLIEST DELIVERY AND THE LOWEST PRICE.

YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 3, 1967, ALLEGES THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE AMBIGUOUS BECAUSE THE RFQ STATES THE ITEM IS TO BE FURNISHED IN ACCORDANCE WITH BUSHIPS DRAWING 501-2005434, REVISION E, WHICH NORMALLY REQUIRES A FINISHED, MACHINED VALVE, WHILE, IN FACT, AN UNFINISHED CASTING IS DESIRED. SINCE HYDROMATICS CALCULATED ITS COST ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE NORMAL MACHINING AND FINISHING OF THE CASTING WOULD BE REQUIRED, YOUR PRICE INCLUDED EXTRA WORK EXCLUDED BY THE OTHER OFFERORS WHO INTERPRETED THE SPECIFICATIONS AS REQUIRING A ROUGH CASTING. ACCORDINGLY, YOU REQUEST THAT THE PRESENT AWARD BE SET ASIDE AND THE PROCUREMENT READVERTISED, SO THAT ALL OFFERORS CAN COMPETE EQUALLY.

WE AGREE WITH YOUR CONTENTIONS TO THE EXTENT THAT "THE NORMAL PRACTICE * * * IS TO SUPPLY A MACHINED CASTING IN ACCORDANCE WITH BUSHIPS DRAWINGS" WHEN, AS HERE, THE SUBJECT DRAWINGS SPECIFY MACHINING. HOWEVER, IN ADDITION TO THE DRAWING, THE ENTIRE REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS MUST BE CONSIDERED. IN THIS CONTEXT, IT BECOMES APPARENT THAT THE NAVY INTENDED TO MODIFY THE NORMAL PRACTICE BY EXCLUDING FROM THE DRAWING THOSE PORTIONS WHICH PERTAIN TO MACHINE FINISHING OF THE CASTING. THE DESCRIPTION AND SPECIFICATION, PAGE 2 OF THE RFQ, EXPRESSED THIS DELETION OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR MACHINING IN THE FOLLOWING WORDS:

"2.1 ITEM 1.1. TO BE OUTBOARD INDUCTION VALVE BODY CASTING FROM TYPE -1 CUNI MIL-C-20159B AND INTERIM AMENDMENT DATED 4 OCT 1965 PATTERN NO. 132440 PER PL IN ACCORDANCE TO SSB (N) 616-501 2005434 REV E (EBB 7564 3- 68X2) EXCEPT AS MODIFIED BELOW:

"A. GENERAL NOTES 2-3-4-5-6-10 AND 12A ARE NOT APPLICABLE.'

GENERAL NOTES 3, 4, 6, AND 10 REFER TO DRILLING, MACHINING AND FINISHING OPERATIONS NECESSARY FOR A COMPLETED VALVE CASTING. THE QUOTED PARAGRAPH THEREFORE ELIMINATED FROM THE ORIGINAL DRAWING THE DIMENSIONAL TOLERANCES FOR MACHINING. SINCE NO MENTION OF SUBSTITUTE TOLERANCES FOR MACHINING IS MADE ELSEWHERE IN THE RFQ, AND SINCE SOME SUCH STANDARDS ARE NECESSARY TO GIVE MEANING TO A REQUIREMENT FOR MACHINING, WE FIND NO VALID BASIS FOR CONSTRUING THE SPECIFICATION LANGUAGE TO REQUIRE A FINISHED CASTING.

THE NAVY REPORT TO THIS OFFICE ALSO ADVISES US THAT THE TERMINOLOGY USED IN THE RFQ DISTINGUISHES A ROUGH CASTING FROM A FINISHED, MACHINED CASTING. THE FORMER IS DESCRIBED AS A CASTING AND THE LATTER IS CUSTOMARILY REFERRED TO BY THE TITLE OF THE PARTICULAR ITEM. ILLUSTRATE THIS DIFFERENCE IN TERMINOLOGY, THE NAVY HAS FURNISHED A COPY OF RFQ NO. N00102-68-A-0034 ISSUED BY THE SAME PROCURING ACTIVITY ON JULY 11, 1967, THE DAY AFTER THE SUBJECT RFQ WAS ISSUED. PARAGRAPH 1.1 OF THE RFQ DESCRIBED THE DESIRED VALVE BODY AS "BODY AND COVER VALVE INBD.'

IN COMPARISON, PARAGRAPH 1.1, OF THE INSTANT RFQ, DESCRIBES THE DESIRED ITEM SIMPLY AS A ,CASTING.'

YOU ALSO CONTEND THAT THE NAVY BUYER'S INABILITY TO SUPPLY A "CLEAR CUT ANSWER" REGARDING THE NEED FOR MACHINING WHEN QUESTIONED INDICATES THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS WERE AMBIGUOUS. THE NAVY REPORT OF NOVEMBER 9, 1967, GIVES THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND EXPLAINS THE INABILITY OF ITS BUYER TO RESPOND IMMEDIATELY TO HYDROMATICS' QUESTION IN THE FOLLOWING MANNER:

"/6) ON 2 OCTOBER 1967, HYDROMATICS, INC., TELEPHONED REQUESTING AWARD INFORMATION AND WAS ADVISED OF THE AWARD. AT THIS TIME, HYDROMATICS, INC., INQUIRED WHETHER THE REQUIREMENT WAS FOR A FINISHED PIECE OR A ROUGH CASTING AND WAS ADVISED THAT THE CALL WOULD BE RETURNED. THIS WAS NECESSARY BECAUSE THE CONTRACT FILE HAD BEEN SENT TO THE SERVICES BRANCH FOR PREPARATION OF THE PURCHASE ORDER. UPON OBTAINING THE FILE, THE CALL WAS RETURNED AND HYDROMATICS, INC., WAS ADVISED THAT THE REQUIREMENT WAS FOR A ROUGH CASTING.'

WE BELIEVE THE NAVY REPORT PROVIDES A REASONABLE EXPLANATION FOR THE NAVY'S FAILURE TO RESPOND QUICKLY WHEN QUESTIONED ABOUT THE NEED FOR MACHINING THE CASTING. FOR THIS REASON, WE CANNOT FIND THAT THE NAVY'S DELAY IN RESPONDING TO HYDROMATICS' QUERY WAS CAUSED BY AN AMBIGUITY IN THE SPECIFICATIONS.

BASED ON THE ABOVE, IT IS OUR OPINION THAT THE SUBJECT SPECIFICATION EXPRESSED WITH SUFFICIENT CLARITY THE NAVY'S REQUIREMENT FOR A ROUGH CASTING AND THAT AWARD UNDER THE SUBJECT SPECIFICATION WAS THEREFORE PROPER.