B-165428, DEC. 26, 1968

B-165428: Dec 26, 1968

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INCORPORATED: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 11. BIDDERS WERE TO QUOTE THE BASIC PRICES MINUS A PERCENTAGE. THE 44 BIDS RECEIVED WERE OPENED ON SEPTEMBER 5. YOUR QUOTATION FOR CUSTOM-MADE MARGINALLY PUNCHED UNPROCESSED AND PROCESSED CARBON FORMS AND STOCK MARGINALLY PUNCHED UNPROCESSED AND PROCESSED CARBON FORMS WERE AS FOLLOWS: "PLUS-MINUS 2 PERCENT. NO QUOTATIONS WERE SUBMITTED FOR EITHER CUSTOM OR STOCK CARBONLESS PAPER FORMS. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER NOTIFIED YOUR REPRESENTATIVE THAT YOUR PLUS MINUS ("PLUS") QUOTATIONS WERE DISQUALIFIED AS NON-RESPONSIVE. YOU ADVISED THAT THE PLUS MINUS QUOTATIONS WERE DUE TO AN ERROR AND THAT YOU INTENDED ALL SUCH QUOTATIONS TO BE PLUS PERCENTAGES.

B-165428, DEC. 26, 1968

TO SOUTHERN MULTIPLE FORMS, INCORPORATED:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 11, 1968, PROTESTING THE REJECTION OF YOUR BID FOR CUSTOM-MADE AND STOCK MARGINALLY PUNCHED UNPROCESSED AND PROCESSED CARBON FORMS FOR BASIC DEPTH ELEVEN (11) INCH FORMS ON THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE MARGINALLY PUNCHED CONTINUOUS FORMS CONTRACT FOR THE PERIOD DECEMBER 1, 1968, THROUGH NOVEMBER 30, 1969.

THE INVITATION FURNISHED BASIC PRICING SCHEDULES FOR OVER EIGHT THOUSAND ITEMS. BIDDERS WERE TO QUOTE THE BASIC PRICES MINUS A PERCENTAGE, OR THE BASIC PRICES WITHOUT CHANGE, OR THE BASIC PRICES PLUS A PERCENTAGE.

THE 44 BIDS RECEIVED WERE OPENED ON SEPTEMBER 5, 1968. YOU QUOTED ALL MINUS PERCENTAGES FOR BASIC DEPTH ELEVEN (11) INCH FORMS ON PAGE 41 OF THE INVITATION. HOWEVER, YOUR QUOTATION FOR CUSTOM-MADE MARGINALLY PUNCHED UNPROCESSED AND PROCESSED CARBON FORMS AND STOCK MARGINALLY PUNCHED UNPROCESSED AND PROCESSED CARBON FORMS WERE AS FOLLOWS: "PLUS-MINUS 2 PERCENT; PLUS-MINUS 4 PERCENT; PLUS-MINUS 1 PERCENT; PLUS-MINUS 2 PERCENT.' NO QUOTATIONS WERE SUBMITTED FOR EITHER CUSTOM OR STOCK CARBONLESS PAPER FORMS. YOU QUOTED PLUS ("PLUS") PERCENTAGES ON PAGE 20 OF THE INVITATION AS TO SHIPPING CHARGES.

THE CONTRACTING OFFICER NOTIFIED YOUR REPRESENTATIVE THAT YOUR PLUS MINUS ("PLUS") QUOTATIONS WERE DISQUALIFIED AS NON-RESPONSIVE.

IN LETTERS OF SEPTEMBER 24, 1968, TO THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, AND OF OCTOBER 11, 1968, TO THIS OFFICE, YOU ADVISED THAT THE PLUS MINUS QUOTATIONS WERE DUE TO AN ERROR AND THAT YOU INTENDED ALL SUCH QUOTATIONS TO BE PLUS PERCENTAGES. IT IS STATED THAT THE BID WAS PREPARED ON A NEW IBM SELECTRIC TYPEWRITER AND THE TYPIST NOT BEING THOROUGHLY FAMILIAR WITH THE MACHINE HIT THE "PLUS-MINUS" CHARACTER RATHER THAN THE "PLUS" CHARACTER AND THAT THE MISTAKE WAS NOT NOTED IN PROOF-READING THE BID. ANY EVENT, HOWEVER, YOU SUGGEST THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD EXERCISE THE OPTION THAT IS MOST BENEFICIAL TO IT RATHER THAN DECLARING THE BID NON- RESPONSIVE.

WHERE A BID CONTAINS TWO OR MORE CONFLICTING STATEMENTS AS TO PRICE OR OTHER MATERIAL INFORMATION OUR POSITION HAS BEEN THAT THE BID MUST BE REJECTED. 40 COMP. GEN. 393, 396. IN THE INSTANT CASE YOUR BIDS ON THE MARGINALLY PUNCHED UNPROCESSED AND PROCESSED CARBON FORMS ARE COMPLETELY INCONSISTENT. WHILE YOU ADVISED AFTER BID OPENING THAT YOU WOULD ACCEPT AWARD ON THE BASIS MOST FAVORABLE TO THE GOVERNMENT, YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MODIFY THE BID AFTER THE BID OPENING. IN THIS REGARD, IT IS STATED IN 40 COMP. GEN. 668, 671, THAT: "* * * IT HAS CONSISTENTLY BEEN HELD BY OUR OFFICE AND THE COURTS THAT BIDDERS SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED TO VARY THEIR PROPOSALS AFTER THE BIDS ARE OPENED, IT BEING CONSIDERED THAT THE STRICT MAINTENANCE OF SUCH RULE IS INFINITELY MORE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST THAN OBTAINING AN APPARENT PECUNIARY ADVANTAGE IN A PARTICULAR CASE. AS WAS SAID BY THE COURT IN CITY OF CHICAGO V MOHR, 216 ILLINOIS 320, 74 N.E. 1056 -WHERE A BID IS PERMITTED TO BE CHANGED (AFTER BID OPENING) IT IS NO LONGER THE SEALED BID SUBMITTED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, AND, TO SAY THE LEAST, IS FAVORITISM, IF NOT FRAUD -- A DIRECT VIOLATION OR LAW -- AND CANNOT BE TOO STRONGLY CONDEMNED.- SEE 17 COMP. GEN. 554; 20 ID. ; 30 ID. 179; 31 ID. 660; 33 ID. 421.'

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, IT MUST BE CONCLUDED THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION IN REJECTING YOUR COMPLETELY INCONSISTENT BIDS WAS PROPER. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.