B-165892, MAY 27, 1969, 48 COMP. GEN. 757

B-165892: May 27, 1969

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WAS PROPER AS THE LOW BID IS NOT CONSIDERED NONRESPONSIVE PER SE. " INDICATES THE LOW BIDDER HAD NOT OVERLOOKED THE DATA ITEMS AND IN DECIDING NOT TO INSERT PRICES FOR THE ITEMS INTENDED TO BE OBLIGATED UNDER THE INVITATION PROVISION TO THE EFFECT THAT THE CONTRACTOR AGREES HE IS OBLIGATED TO DELIVER ALL THE DATA LISTED ON THE BIDDING SCHEDULE. THE PRICE HE IS TO BE PAID THEREFOR IS INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL PRICE SPECIFIED IN THE CONTRACT. OMISSION THE OMISSION OF THE PACKAGING SHEETS REFERRED TO ON A BID SCHEDULE AS BEING "ATTACHED" IS NO FATAL. - SATISFYING THE REQUIREMENT IN 10 U.S.C. 2305 (B) THAT IF THE DESCRIPTIVE LANGUAGE AND ATTACHMENTS NECESSARY TO FULL AND FREE COMPETITION THAT ARE OMITTED FROM AN INVITATION ARE OTHERWISE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL COMPETENT AND RELIABLE BIDDERS.

B-165892, MAY 27, 1969, 48 COMP. GEN. 757

BIDS--PRICES--ITEM OMISSION AN AWARD TO THE LOW BIDDER ON GEODETIC RODS WHO HAD FOR THE DATA ITEMS TO BE FURNISHED INSERTED IN THE UNIT PRICE AND AMOUNT COLUMNS OPPOSITE THE WORD "LOT" A "---," THE ONLY OTHER BIDDER SHOWING "NO CHARGE" FOR THE ITEMS, WAS PROPER AS THE LOW BID IS NOT CONSIDERED NONRESPONSIVE PER SE, ABSENT A SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT THAT A "NO CHARGE" BE STATED. THE USE OF "- --" INDICATES THE LOW BIDDER HAD NOT OVERLOOKED THE DATA ITEMS AND IN DECIDING NOT TO INSERT PRICES FOR THE ITEMS INTENDED TO BE OBLIGATED UNDER THE INVITATION PROVISION TO THE EFFECT THAT THE CONTRACTOR AGREES HE IS OBLIGATED TO DELIVER ALL THE DATA LISTED ON THE BIDDING SCHEDULE, AND THE PRICE HE IS TO BE PAID THEREFOR IS INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL PRICE SPECIFIED IN THE CONTRACT. CONTRACTS--SPECIFICATIONS--ATTACHMENTS--OMISSION THE OMISSION OF THE PACKAGING SHEETS REFERRED TO ON A BID SCHEDULE AS BEING "ATTACHED" IS NO FATAL, THE INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS OF THE CONTRACTING AGENCY'S CONTRACT CLAUSE BOOK PROVISIONS CONCERNING THE AVAILABILITY OF SPECIFICATIONS--- A TERM CONSIDERED TO INCLUDE PACKAGING SHEETS--- SATISFYING THE REQUIREMENT IN 10 U.S.C. 2305 (B) THAT IF THE DESCRIPTIVE LANGUAGE AND ATTACHMENTS NECESSARY TO FULL AND FREE COMPETITION THAT ARE OMITTED FROM AN INVITATION ARE OTHERWISE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL COMPETENT AND RELIABLE BIDDERS, THE INVITATION IS NOT INVALID. CONTRACTS--SPECIFICATIONS- AMBIGUOUS--WHAT CONSTITUTES AN AMBIGUITY AN ALLEGATION OF AMBIGUITY MADE AFTER AN AWARD OF A CONTRACT THAT A BIDDING SCHEDULE CREATED UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT DESIRED PRICES ON THE PACKAGING OR DATA ITEMS IN THE FURNISHING OF GEODETIC RODS IS NOT SUSTAINED WHERE THERE IS ONLY ONE REASONABLE INTERPRETATION OF THE MEANING OF THE SCHEDULE, FOR AN AMBIGUITY EXISTS ONLY IF TWO OR MORE REASONABLE INTERPRESTATIONS ARE POSSIBLE. THE APPROPRIATE TIME TO ALLEGE AN AMBIGUITY AND SEEK CLARIFICATION OF AN UNCERTAINTY IS PRIOR TO THE TIME FOR THE SUBMISSION OF BIDS, AND A PROTEST AFTER BID OPENING ON MATTERS ONE WOULD REASONABLY EXPECT TO HAVE CLARIFIED DURING THE PERIOD WHEN BIDS ARE PREPARED, TENDS TO CAUSE DOUBT AS TO THE PURPOSE AND VALIDITY OF THE PROTEST.

TO THE DIRECTOR, DEFENSE SUPPLY AGENCY, MAY 27, 1969:

WE REFER TO A LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 19, 1969, FROM MR. WILLARD J. HURLEY, ASSISTANT COUNSEL, FORWARDING A REPORT ON THE PROTEST OF PLURIBUS PRODUCTS, INC; AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER COMPANY UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. DSA700-69-B-1449, ISSUED BY THE DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION SUPPLY CENTER, COLUMBUS, OHIO.

THE INVITATION WAS ISSUED ON NOVEMBER 21, 1968, PURSUANT TO A MILITARY INTERDEPARTMENTAL PURCHASE REQUEST FROM THE UNITED STATES ARMY MOBILITY EQUIPMENT COMMAND, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI. THE INVITATION SOLICITED BIDS UNDER ITEM 1 FOR 40 LEVEL GEODETIC RODS. THE DATA AND PACKING REQUIREMENTS FOR THE ITEM WERE LISTED ON THE BIDDING SCHEDULE AS FOLLOWS: ITEM

UNIT

NO. SUPPLIES/SERVICES QUANTITY UNIT PRICE AMOUNT

* * * * * * * 2 DATA FOR ITEM 1 IN

ACCORDANCE WITH DD

1423, EXHIBIT A. 2AA DATA IN ACCORDANCE 1 LOT

WITH SEQUENCE 002. 2AB DATA IN ACCORDANCE

WITH SEQUENCE 003.

PPP IN ACCORDANCE 1 LOT

WITH ATTACHED

PACKAGING SHEET

NO.500.

TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED. PLURIBUS PRODUCTS, INC. (PLURIBUS), BID $794 FOR EACH GEODETIC ROD, WHILE L.C. RENICK CO; INC. (RENICK), QUOTED A PRICE OF $725 PER ROD. THE PLURIBUS BID CONTAINED THE HANDWRITTEN NOTATIONS "NO CHARGE" IN THE UNIT PRICE COLUMNS NEXT TO THE WORDS "LOT" IN THE UNIT COLUMN AS SHOWN ABOVE. RENICK INSERTED A "-- " IN BOTH THE UNIT PRICE AND AMOUNT COLUMNS ON THE SAME LEVEL AS THE WORDS "LOT" IN THE UNIT COLUMN. AWARD WAS MADE TO RENICK ON JANUARY 24, 1969.

IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY REPORTED THAT PACKAGING SHEET NO. 500, REFERRED TO ON THE BID SCHEDULE AS BEING "ATTACHED" THERETO, WAS NOT IN FACT INCLUDED AS PART OF THE INVITATION DOCUMENTS. THEREFORE, AS A PRELIMINARY QUESTION NOT EXPRESSLY RAISED BY THE PROTEST, WE MUST CONSIDER THE EFFECT OF THE OMISSION OF THE PACKAGING SHEET.

THE STATUTORY PROVISION GOVERNING THE USE OF ATTACHMENTS TO INVITATIONS IS 10 U.S.C. 2305 (B), WHICH READS:

THE SPECIFICATIONS IN INVITATIONS FOR BIDS MUST CONTAIN THE NECESSARY LANGUAGE AND ATTACHMENTS, AND MUST BE SUFFICIENTLY DESCRIPTIVE IN LANGUAGE AND ATTACHMENTS, TO PERMIT FULL AND FREE COMPETITION. IF THE SPECIFICATIONS IN AN INVITATION FOR BIDS DO NOT CARRY THE NECESSARY DESCRIPTIVE LANGUAGE AND ATTACHMENTS, OR IF THOSE ATTACHMENTS ARE NOT ACCESSIBLE TO ALL COMPETENT AND RELIABLE BIDDERS, THE INVITATION IS INVALID AND NO AWARD MAY BE MADE.

IT IS THEREFORE CLEAR THAT THE OMISSION OF AN ATTACHMENT IS NOT FATAL IF THE ATTACHMENT IS OTHERWISE "ACCESSIBLE TO ALL COMPETENT AND RELIABLE BIDDERS." IN CONSIDERING WHETHER PACKAGING SHEET NO. 500 WAS ACCESSIBLE, PARAGRAPHS 20A AND 20B OF CLAUSE 6.118, INCORPORATED IN THE INVITATION BY REFERENCE TO THE DCSC CONTRACT CLAUSE BOOK, AS REVISED, STATE IN PART:

20A. AVAILABILITY OF SPECIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS

SPECIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS CITED IN THIS SOLICITATION ARE AVAILABLE AS INDICATED BELOW:

(A) UNCLASSIFIED FEDERAL, MILITARY, AND OTHER SPECIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS (EXCLUDING COMMERCIAL). SUBMIT REQUEST ON DD FORM 1425 (SPECIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS REQUISITION) TO:

* * * * * * * DD FORM 1425 SHALL BE COMPLETED TO INDICATE THE SPECIFICATION TITLE, NUMBER, DATE, AND ANY APPLICABLE AMENDMENT THERETO BY NUMBER AND DATE. AN INITIAL REQUEST, WHERE THE PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR DOES NOT HAVE DD FORM 1425, MAY BE SUBMITTED IN LETTER FORM, GIVING THE SAME INFORMATION AS LISTED ABOVE, AND THE SOLICITATION OR CONTRACT NUMBER INVOLVED.

(B) COMMERCIAL SPECIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS. THESE SPECIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE FROM GOVERNMENT SOURCES. THEY MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE PUBLISHERS. (ASPR 1-1203.2 (A))

20B. AVAILABILITY OF DRAWINGS AND ADVANCE SPECIFICATIONS OR STANDARDS

DRAWINGS AND ADVANCE SPECIFICATIONS OR STANDARDS CITED IN THIS SOLICITATION MAY BE OBTAINED BY SUBMITTING A REQUEST TO:

REQUESTS SHOULD GIVE THE NUMBER OF THE SOLICITATION AND THE DRAWING NUMBER OR SPECIFICATION OR STANDARD NUMBER REQUESTED, EXACTLY AS CITED IN THIS SOLICITATION. (ASPR 1-1203.3)ALTHOUGH THE ABOVE PARAGRAPHS DO NOT RELATE SPECIFICALLY TO PACKAGING SHEETS, IT IS REASONABLE TO ASSUME THAT THE TERM "SPECIFICATIONS" USED THEREIN IS SUFFICIENTLY COMPREHENSIVE TO INCLUDE PACKAGING SHEETS WHICH ARE, IN EFFECT, THE PRESERVATION, PACKAGING, AND PACKING SPECIFICATION.

WE THINK THE AVERAGE RESPONSIBLE BIDDER, UPON NOTING THE ABSENCE OF THE SHEET CONTAINING PACKAGING INSTRUCTIONS, WOULD HAVE CONTACTED EITHER THE CONTRACTING OFFICER OR ONE OR BOTH OF THE OFFICES LISTED IN PARAGRAPHS 20A AND 20B TO SECURE THE MISSING SHEET. THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT EITHER RENICK OR PLURIBUS REQUESTED A COPY OF PACKAGING SHEET NO. 500, BUT THIS MAY BE EXPLAINED BY THE FACT, AS SHOWN ON THE PURCHASE REQUEST FORM, THAT THE IDENTICAL ITEM WAS BEING CURRENTLY PROCURED FROM BOTH COMPANIES. THEREFORE, IT IS POSSIBLE THAT EACH BIDDER ALREADY HAD COPIES OF THE SHEET AND FOR THAT REASON HAD NO REASON TO SECURE ADDITIONAL COPIES FOR THIS PROCUREMENT. IN ANY EVENT, HAD EITHER COMPANY WANTED A COPY, IT COULD HAVE BEEN FURNISHED UPON REQUEST. THIS SATISFIES THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 2305 (B) AND WE THEREFORE CONCLUDE THAT THE INVITATION WAS NOT DEFECTIVE UNDER THE STANDARDS SET FORTH THEREIN. SEE B-148955, AUGUST 10, 1962, WHEREIN WE HELD THAT AN INVITATION FOR BIDS ON A GIVEN ITEM "WITH ACCESSORIES," REFERENCING A FEDERAL STOCK NUMBER, WAS SUFFICIENT TO ENABLE PROPER PRESENTATION OF BIDS WHERE THE ACCESSORIES TO THE ITEM WERE LISTED IN THE FEDERAL SUPPLY CATALOG, A PUBLICATION AVAILABLE TO ALL BIDDERS.

PLURIBUS CONTENDS THAT THE INVITATION WAS INHERENTLY DEFECTIVE AND PREVENTED THE SUBMISSION OF BIDS ON AN EQUAL BASIS, AND ALSO THAT RENICK'S BID WAS NONRESPONSIVE. THE RELIEF REQUESTED BY PLURIBUS IS CANCELLATION OF THE AWARD AND AWARD TO PLURIBUS AS THE SOLE RESPONSIVE BIDDER.

THE FIRST MATTER FOR CONSIDERATION IS THE ALLEGED DEFICIENCY IN THE INVITATION. SPECIFICALLY, PLURIBUS CLAIMS THAT THE INVITATION---

* * * IS, AT BEST, AMBIGUOUS TO THE EXTENT THAT IT PREVENTS BIDS UPON AN EQUAL BASIS BECAUSE IT IS OPEN TO VARIOUS INTERPRETATIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE NOTATION NEXT TO THE PRESERVATION AND PACKING ITEM WOULD APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN INTENDED INSTEAD AS A REQUEST FOR PRICE ON THE DATA IN ITEM 2AB THUS LEAVING THE BIDDER UNCERTAIN WHETHER IT SHOULD PRICE THE DATA OR THE PACKAGING. SINCE NO REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION WAS MADE BY EITHER OF THE TWO BIDDERS, THAT AMBIGUITY REMAINED IN THE BIDS AS OPENED.

IT IS NOTEWORTHY THAT PLURIBUS FAILED TO STATE OR TO SHOW THAT EITHER BIDDER IN FACT FOUND THIS INVITATION TO BE AMBIGUOUS. PARAGRAPH 3 OF STANDARD FORM 33A INFORMED BIDDERS THAT THEY HAD A RIGHT TO EXPLANATION OF THE MEANING OF THE INVITATION AND OF ANY DRAWINGS OR SPECIFICATIONS. THE MORE APPROPRIATE TIME FOR CLARIFICATION OF SUCH AN UNCERTAINTY WOULD HAVE BEEN PRIOR TO THE TIME FOR SUBMISSION OF BIDS. B-162566, DECEMBER 13, 1967. THE SUBMISSION OF A PROTEST AFTER BID OPENING, ON MATTERS ONE WOULD REASONABLY EXPECT TO HAVE BEEN CLARIFIED DURING THE PERIOD WHEN BIDS WERE BEING PREPARED, TENDS TO CAUSE DOUBT AS TO THE PURPOSE AND VALIDITY OF THE PRESENT PROTEST.

THE MERE ALLEGATION THAT SOMETHING IS AMBIGUOUS DOES NOT MAKE IT SO. SIMILARLY, SOME FACTOR IN A WRITTEN INSTRUMENT MAY BE SOMEWHAT CONFUSING AND PUZZLING WITHOUT CONSTITUTING AN AMBIGUITY, PROVIDED THAT AN APPLICATION OF REASON WOULD SERVE TO REMOVE THE DOUBT. IN OTHER WORDS, AN AMBIGUITY EXISTS ONLY IF TWO OR MORE REASONABLE INTERPRETATIONS ARE POSSIBLE. DITTMORE-FREIMUTH CORP. V. UNITED STATES, 182 CT. CL. 507, 390 F. 2D 664 (1968). KEEPING IN MIND CORBIN'S STATEMENT THAT "VAGUENESS, INDEFINITENESS, AND UNCERTAINTY ARE MATTERS OF DEGREE, WITH NO ABSOLUTE STANDARD FOR COMPARISON" (CORBIN ON CONTRACTS, SEC. 95, PAGE 396), THE INQUIRY IS WHETHER THE BIDDING SCHEDULE CAUSED SUCH UNCERTAINTY THAT ONE MIGHT REASONABLY BELIEVE THAT THE GOVERNMENT DESIRED PRICES ON PACKAGING AND NOT ON THE DATA ITEM.

WE CANNOT CONCLUDE THAT THERE IS MORE THAN ONE REASONABLE INTERPRETATION OF THE MEANING OF THE BIDDING SCHEDULE. PARAGRAPH 2 (C) OF STANDARD FORM 33A ADVISED BIDDERS: "UNIT PRICE FOR EACH UNIT OFFERED SHALL BE SHOWN AND SUCH PRICE SHALL INCLUDE PACKING UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED." THE ONLY POSSIBLE INDICATION THAT THE COST OF PACKING WAS EXPECTED TO BE SET OUT SEPARATELY WAS THE NOTATION "1 LOT" APPEARING NEARLY ON A LEVEL WITH THE PACKING INFORMATION. HOWEVER, IT WOULD APPEAR SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL TO ASK FOR A PRICE FOR PACKAGING THE RODS ON A "LOT" BASIS WHILE SOLICITING BIDS ON THE RODS THEMSELVES ON A UNIT PRICE BASIS. FURTHER, A QUESTION WOULD ARISE CONCERNING THE MEANING OF "LOT"; THAT IS, WOULD IT INCLUDE ONLY THE BASIC QUANTITY OF 40 RODS OR THE BASIC AMOUNT PLUS THE 100-PERCENT CONTRACT OPTION QUANTITY. CONVERSELY, SUCH A CONSTRUCTION WOULD INDICATE THAT NO BID WAS EXPECTED FOR ITEM 2AB, EVEN THOUGH IT IS CLEAR THAT A PRICE WAS TO BE INDICATED NEXT TO ITEM 2AA. THERE IS NO APPARENT REASON WHY A PRICE SHOULD BE SOLICITED ON ONE OF THE DATA ITEMS AND NOT ON THE OTHER. IN SUMMARY, WE THINK THERE IS NO MERIT TO THE PLURIBUS CONTENTION IN THIS REGARD; RATHER, EVERY INDICATION OF RECORD LEADS TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE SECOND "1 LOT" NOTATION WAS SIMPLY MISPLACED, AND WE THINK A CONTRARY VIEW IS WITHOUT SUBSTANTIAL SUPPORT.

THE OTHER CONTENTION OF PLURIBUS IS THAT THE RENICK BID IS NONRESPONSIVE FOR FAILURE EITHER TO ENTER PRICES FOR ITEMS 2AA AND 2AB OR TO INDICATE CLEARLY THAT NO CHARGE WAS INTENDED FOR THOSE ITEMS. PLURIBUS ASSERTS THAT---

AN OPTION WAS AFFORDED TO THE RENICK COMPANY WHICH WAS NOT AVAILALE TO PLURIBUS, INC; THE OTHER BIDDER, IN THAT RENICK COULD CLAIM EITHER (A) IT DID NOT INTEND TO BE BOUND TO FURNISH ITEMS 2AA AND 2AB OR (B) IT MEANT TO FURNISH THEM AT NO CHARGE OR (C) IT MADE A MISTAKE IN BID AND INTENDED TO CHARGE FOR THOSE ITEMS.

THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S REPORT, ON THE OTHER HAND, POINTS OUT THAT THERE WAS NO EXPLICIT PROVISION THAT FAILURE TO QUOTE A PRICE ON ALL ITEMS WOULD RENDER A BID NONRESPONSIBLE. THE REPORT CONTAINS AN ARGUMENT THAT--

* * * AN INTENTION TO BE BOUND BY ALL TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE SOLICITATION CAN BE DETERMINED FROM RENICK'S BID AS ORIGINALLY SUBMITTED, AND ITS FAILURE TO BID ON ITEMS 2AA AND 2AB DOES NOT RENDER THE BID NONRESPONSIVE.

CITED IN SUPPORT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CONCLUSION IS OUR DECISION B 152899, JANUARY 27, 1964. WE THINK THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THAT CASE AND THE PRESENT ONE. IN THE CITED CASE, THERE WERE TWO ITEMS ON THE BIDDING SCHEDULE: "A," SELF-HEATING GRIDDLES, AND "B," EQUIPMENT MANUALS. THE GRIDDLES WERE TO BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH A STATED MILITARY SPECIFICATION, AS AMENDED; THE MANUALS WERE TO CONFORM TO THE SAME SPECIFICATION. WE HELD:

IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT BEFORE BID OPENING AMENDMENT NO. 2 CHANGED THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MANUAL UNDER ITEM B TO CONFORM TO THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MANUAL CONTAINED IN SECTION 3.9 OF THE REVISED BASIC SPECIFICATION MADE A PART OF THIS INVITATION BY AMENDMENT NO. 1, WHICH LYONS-ALPHA ACKNOWLEDGED, AND IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE BASIC SPECIFICATION REQUIRED A MANUAL WITH EACH GRIDDLE, IT IS OUR VIEW THAT AWARD OF ITEM A ALONE WOULD OBLIGATE THE CONTRACTOR TO DELIVER SUCH MANUALS AND RENDER AN AWARD ON ITEM B UNNECESSARY UNLESS THE ADDITIONAL MANUALS COVERED THEREBY ARE CONSIDERED NECESSARY. IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, UPON YOUR DETERMINATION THAT ITEM B IS NO LONGER NEEDED, THIS ITEM MAY PROPERLY BE CANCELLED AND THE FAILURE OF LYONS ALPHA TO QUOTE A SEPARATE PRICE UNDER ITEM B MAY BE REGARDED AS A MINOR AND IMMATERIAL DEVIATION. IN THAT SITUATION, CLAUSE 8 (C) OF THE "TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS" WHICH PROVIDES THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY ACCEPT ANY ITEM OR GROUP OF ITEMS OF ANY BID UNLESS THE BIDDER QUALIFIES HIS BID BY SPECIFIC LIMITATIONS, WOULD APPEAR TO AUTHORIZE AWARD TO LYONS-ALPHA OF A CONTRACT FOR ITEM A.

UNDER THE FACTS OF THAT CASE, THE ABSENCE OF A SEPARATE PRICE FOR THE MANUALS WAS NOT FATAL BECAUSE THE OBLIGATION TO FURNISH THEM WAS IMPOSED UNDER ITEM "A" AND THE PRICE FOR THEM WAS INCLUDED IN THAT ITEM.

CLAUSE 2.123 WAS INCORPORATED FROM THE CONTRACT CLASUE BOOK INTO THE INVITATION. PARAGRAPH 2 THEREOF PROVIDES IN PART:

THE CONTRACTOR AGREES THAT * * * HE IS OBLIGATED TO DELIVER ALL THE DATA LISTED * * * (ON DD FORM 1423), AND THE PRICE HE IS TO BE PAID THEREFOR IS INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL PRICE SPECIFIED IN THE CONTRACT.

ITEMS 2AA AND 2AB OF THE BIDDING SCHEDULE REQUIRE PRICES ON THE SAME DATA AS IS REFERRED TO IN THE ABOVE QUOTATION. IT IS THEREFORE CLEAR THAT BY VIRTUE OF THIS PROVISION IN CLAUSE 2.123, RENICK'S BID OBLIGATED IT TO FURNISH THE SAME DATA REFERRED TO IN ITEMS 2AA AND 2AB. HOWEVER, THE QUESTION REMAINS AS TO RENICK'S INTENTION TO CHARGE OR NOT TO CHARGE FOR THIS DATA. THERE IS NO "TOTAL PRICE SPECIFIED" ON RENICK'S BID, AND FOR THIS REASON DECISION B-161012, JUNE 13, 1967, IS INAPPLICABLE. THAT CASE ALSO INVOLVED A UNIT PRICE AND A PRICE FOR DATA BUT THE INVITATION CONTEMPLATED AN AGGREGATE AWARD. THERE WE HELD THAT THE FAILURE TO INSERT ANY NOTATION AT ALL FOR A DATA ITEM WAS A MINOR DEVIATION WHICH COULD BE WAIVED, SINCE BIDS WERE SOLICITED ON AN AGGREGATE PRICE BASIS AND AWARD WAS TO BE MADE IN THE AGGREGATE. CF. B-161943, AUGUST 29, 1967, WHERE EVEN THOUGH AN AGGREGATE PRICE WAS STATED, THE BID WAS NONRESPONSIVE BECAUSE NEXT TO THE DATA ITEM WAS THE PHRASE "TO BE NEGOTIATED."

ABSENT A SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT THAT IF AN ITEM IS TO BE FURNISHED AT NO COST IT SHOULD BE STATED IN SO MANY WORDS (SEE B-165549, FEBRUARY 12, 1969), WE DO NOT THINK THAT THE RENICK BID WAS NONRESPONSIVE PER SE BECAUSE OF THE "---" NEXT TO THE DATA ITEMS.

THE ENTRY OF A "---" IS CERTAINLY LESS CLEAR AN INDICATION OF INTENT THAN EITHER A DOLLAR PRICE ENTRY OR A STATEMENT LIKE "NO CHARGE." BUT IT IS A MORE MEANINGFUL EXPRESSION OF INTENT THAN A MERE BLANK SPACE. THE "---," IT SEEMS TO US, SHOWS TWO THINGS. FIRST, THE BIDDER WAS AWARE OF THE NECESSITY TO INSERT SOMETHING NEXT TO THE ITEM; IN OTHER WORDS, THE BIDDER HAD NOT OVERLOOKED THE ITEM. SECOND, AFTER CONSIDERING THE MATTER, THE BIDDER DECIDED NOT TO INSERT A PRICE FOR THE ITEM. THE AFFIRMATIVE COROLLARY IS THAT THE BIDDER OBLIGATED ITSELF TO FURNISH THE DATA WITHOUT COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. THEREFORE, WHILE THERE IS NO EXPLICIT INDICATION THAT THE DATA WAS TO BE SUPPLIED AT NO COST, THE BIDDER'S INTENT TO DO SO WAS CLEAR AND THE FAILURE TO STATE THIS INTENT IN A MORE POSITIVE FASHION DID NOT RENDER THE BID NONRESPONSIVE.

IN LIGHT OF THE ABOVE, THE PROTEST OF PLURIBUS PRODUCTS, INC; IS DENIED.