B-165914, MAR. 19, 1969

B-165914: Mar 19, 1969

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

" WHICH IS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE IN THE IFB AS PER ITEM 9 ON THE FACE SHEET. READS AS FOLLOWS: "/A) NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT A BLANK IS PROVIDED FOR A TEN (10) DAY DISCOUNT. PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNTS OFFERED FOR PAYMENT WITHIN LESS THAN TWENTY (20) CALENDAR DAYS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED IN EVALUATING OFFERS FOR AWARD. OFFERED DISCOUNTS OF LESS THAN 20 DAYS WILL BE TAKEN IF PAYMENT IS MADE WITHIN THE DISCOUNT PERIOD. THERE ARE NO OTHER PROVISIONS IN THE IFB OR IN THE RELATED PAPERS WHICH WOULD AUTHORIZE CONSIDERATION OF PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNTS FOR PAYMENTS IN LESS THAN 20 DAYS. THE FIVE BIDS RECEIVED BY THE PROCURING ACTIVITY WERE OPENED AS SCHEDULED. THE BIDS WERE AS FOLLOWS: UNIT TOTAL BIDDER PRICE PRICE DISCOUNT APPLIED $ 825.00 $4.

B-165914, MAR. 19, 1969

TO APPLIED RESEARCH, INC:

WE REFER TO YOUR PROTEST BY TELEGRAM OF JANUARY 6, 1969, AS SUPPLEMENTED BY YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 8, AGAINST AN AWARD TO AVANTEK, INC., UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS P-1872 ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA), WALLOPS STATION, WALLOPS ISLAND, VIRGINIA.

THE IFB, STANDARD FORM 33, SOLICITED BIDS TO FURNISH FIVE MULTICOUPLERS, APPLIED RESEARCH, INC. MODEL HFM, OR EQUAL, TO BE DELIVERED TO WALLOPS ISLAND.

ITEM 16 ON THE FACE SHEET OF THE IFB, ENTITLED "DISCOUNT FOR PROMPT PAYMENT," PROVIDES BLANKS FOR ENTERING DISCOUNTS FOR 10, 20, OR 30 CALENDAR DAYS AND FOR A NUMBER OF DAYS TO BE SPECIFIED BY THE BIDDER. PARAGRAPH 9, STANDARD FORM 33A,"SOLICITATION INSTRUCTIONS AND CONDITIONS," WHICH IS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE IN THE IFB AS PER ITEM 9 ON THE FACE SHEET, READS AS FOLLOWS:

"/A) NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT A BLANK IS PROVIDED FOR A TEN (10) DAY DISCOUNT, PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNTS OFFERED FOR PAYMENT WITHIN LESS THAN TWENTY (20) CALENDAR DAYS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED IN EVALUATING OFFERS FOR AWARD, UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED IN THE SOLICITATION. HOWEVER, OFFERED DISCOUNTS OF LESS THAN 20 DAYS WILL BE TAKEN IF PAYMENT IS MADE WITHIN THE DISCOUNT PERIOD, EVEN THOUGH NOT CONSIDERED IN THE EVALUATION OF OFFERS.' THERE ARE NO OTHER PROVISIONS IN THE IFB OR IN THE RELATED PAPERS WHICH WOULD AUTHORIZE CONSIDERATION OF PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNTS FOR PAYMENTS IN LESS THAN 20 DAYS.

ON DECEMBER 19, 1968, THE FIVE BIDS RECEIVED BY THE PROCURING ACTIVITY WERE OPENED AS SCHEDULED. THE BIDS WERE AS FOLLOWS:

UNIT TOTAL

BIDDER PRICE PRICE DISCOUNT APPLIED $ 825.00

$4,125.00 1 PERCENT - 10 DAYS

1/2 PERCENT - 20 DAYS OPTIMAX 895.00 4,475.00 1/2 PERCENT - 10 DAYS AVANTEK 910.00 4,550.00

10 PERCENT - 20 DAYS AERTECH 1,050.00 5,250.00 NET HRB SINGER 1,850.00 9,250.00 NET

ON THE SAME DATE, THE PROCURING ACTIVITY RECEIVED A TELEPHONE CALL FROM A REPRESENTATIVE OF YOUR FIRM, AFTER THE BID OPENING, MAKING INQUIRY ABOUT THE BID RESULTS. AT THAT TIME THE PROCUREMENT AGENT, WITHOUT GIVING CONSIDERATION TO THE DISCOUNT TERMS OF THE IFB, ADVISED THAT YOU WERE THE APPARENT LOW BIDDER.

ON DECEMBER 30, DURING THE EVALUATION OF THE BIDS, ALL OF WHICH WERE FOUND TO BE RESPONSIVE TO THE IFB, THE PROCUREMENT AGENT TOOK NOTE OF THE FACT THAT THE 10-PERCENT DISCOUNT OFFERED BY AVANTEK, WHICH, IF CONSIDERED IN THE EVALUATION OF ITS BID, WOULD MAKE AVANTEK LOWEST BIDDER AT A NET PRICE OF $4,095, WAS LARGE BY COMPARISON WITH THE DISCOUNTS OFFERED BY OTHER BIDDERS, AND UNUSUALLY HIGH FOR SUCH A PROCUREMENT. ACCORDINGLY, THE PROCUREMENT AGENT IMMEDIATELY COMMUNICATED WITH AVANTEK'S REPRESENTATIVE IN BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, FURNISHED HIM A SUMMARY OF THE BIDS RECEIVED AND THE DISCOUNTS QUOTED, AND REQUESTED THAT AVANTEK VERIFY ITS BID PRICE AND TERMS. THE AVANTEK REPRESENTATIVE IS REPORTED TO HAVE EXPRSSED HIS PERSONAL OPINION THAT THE DISCOUNT APPEARED EXCESSIVE, BUT HE ALSO STATED THAT VERIFICATION WOULD BE REQUIRED FROM THE FIRM'S HOME OFFICE IN CALIFORNIA. LATER ON THE SAME DATE THE PROCUREMENT ACTIVITY RECEIVED A TELEGRAM FROM AVANTEK'S HOME OFFICE READING AS FOLLOWS: "RE IFB P 1872. CONFIRM ORIGINAL OFFER. TEN PERCENT DISCOUNT FOR PROMPT PAYMENT IS A PART OF OUR ORIGINAL OFFER. ALL OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS REMAIN AS BEFORE.'

IN SUBSEQUENT DISCUSSIONS OF THE PROCUREMENT WITH YOUR REPRESENTATIVES DURING JANUARY 1969, THE PROCURING ACTIVITY MADE KNOWN ITS INTENT TO MAKE AWARD TO AVANTEK AS LOW BIDDER BY VIRTUE OF THE DISCOUNT TERMS WHICH AVANTEK HAD CONFIRMED. YOU MAINTAINED THAT THE 10-PERCENT DISCOUNT WAS NOT THE USUAL DISCOUNT OFFERED BY AVANTEK AND WAS THEREFORE ERRONEOUS. FURTHER, BY TELEGRAM DATED JANUARY 7, 1969, YOU NOTIFIED THE PROCURING ACTIVITY OF YOUR INTENT TO FILE A FORMAL PROTEST WITH OUR OFFICE.

IN THE PROTEST YOU ADHERE TO YOUR CHARGE THAT AVANTEK HAS MADE AN ERROR IN ITS BID. A PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT, YOU STATE, IS INTENDED TO INDUCE THE PAYEE TO MAKE PAYMENT WITHIN A CERTAIN TIME AND IS RELATED TO THE COST OF MONEY; THEREFORE, YOU URGE, IT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS TO ANY REASONABLE PERSON THAT AVANTEK INTENDED A 1-PERCENT DISCOUNT BUT ENTERED 10 PERCENT ON THE SOLICITATION IN ERROR. NASA PROCUREMENT PERSONNEL, ACCORDING TO YOU, STATED THAT THEY HAD NEVER SEEN A 10-PERCENT PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT OFFERED. FURTHER, YOU COMMENT,"IT WOULD BE A RIDICULOUS SITUATION IF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT WAS OFFERED A DISCOUNT OF 10 PERCENT UNDER A QUOTED PRICE IF PAYMENT WERE MADE WITHIN 20 DAYS, AND IN EFFECT, PENALIZED 10 PERCENT OF THE PRICE IF PAYMENT WAS MADE ONE DAY LATER.'

ANOTHER ARGUMEENT ADVANCED BY YOU AS SUPPORT FOR THE CHARGE THAT AVANTEK MADE AN ERROR IN QUOTING A 10-PERCENT PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT IS THAT EXAMINATION OF AVANTEK'S BIDS TO NASA AS WELL AS TO VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS OF DEFENSE AGENCIES WOULD MOST LIKELY DISCLOSE THAT AVANTEK NORMALLY OFFERED PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNTS FOR 20 DAYS OF APPROXIMATELY 1 PERCENT.

IN ADDITION TO THE FOREGOING, YOU ASSERT THAT THE EFFECT OF AVANTEK'S ADHERENCE TO ITS PURPORTED CLERICAL ERROR IS THE SUBMISSION BY AVANTEK, AFTER BID OPENING AND DISCLOSURE OF THE COMPETING BIDS, OF A REDUCED REVISED BID ONLY 1/4 OF 1 PERCENT BELOW THE TRUE LOWEST BID (AVANTEK'S NET BID OF $4,095 AFTER DISCOUNT IS ONLY $9.37 LOWER THAN YOUR NET BID OF $4,194.37 AFTER APPLICATION OF YOUR 20-DAY DISCOUNT). RELATED TO THIS ASSERTION IS THE GENERAL CHARGE THAT AN AWARD TO AVANTEK "WOULD OPEN A PANDORA'S BOX TO UNSCRUPULOUS CONTRACTORS, WHO, UNDER THE GUISE OF INCLUDING CLERICAL ERRORS IN THEIR OFFERS, WITH RESPECT TO PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNTS, WOULD BE GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE TO RESPOND TO IFB-S.'

THE WALLOPS STATION PERSONNEL ARE REPORTED TO HAVE ADMITTED THAT THEY EXPRESSED TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVES THE VIEW THAT THE AVANTEK DISCOUNT OFFER APPEARED TO BE UNUSUALLY HIGH. THEY DO NOT, HOWEVER, CONFIRM ANY STATEMENT ABOUT NEVER HAVING SEEN A 10-PERCENT PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT. FURTHER, THE WALLOPS STATION PROCUREMENT REPRESENTATIVES REPORT THAT DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS ONLY ONE OTHER OFFER OF A PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT, AT THE RATE OF 1/2 PERCENT, 15 DAYS, HAS BEEN RECEIVED BY THE STATION FROM AVANTEK.

THE DIRECTOR OF PROCUREMENT ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THE LOWER DISCOUNT OFFERED BY AVANTEK IN THE PREVIOUS WALLOPS STATION PROCUREMENT OF RECENT DATE TENDS TO SUPPORT THE ARGUMENT THAT THE CURRENT AVANTEK DISCOUNT OFFER IS IN ERROR. HOWEVER, THE DIRECTOR URGES, IT IS JUST AS LOGICAL TO CONCLUDE THAT AVANTEK OFFERED A HIGHER DISCOUNT IN THE CURRENT PROCUREMENT FOR COGENT BUSINESS REASONS OF ITS OWN. IN THIS CONNECTION, THE DIRECTOR REFERS TO A STATEMENT IN OUR DECISION B 152484, JANUARY 22, 1964, TO THE EFFECT THAT PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNTS ARE ALLOWED AS AN INDUCEMENT FOR EARLY SETTLEMENT OF ACCOUNTS TO AVOID OBTAINING CREDIT IN BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS, WHICH MIGHT INVOLVE THE PAYMENT OF INTEREST, OR TO AVOID THE LOSS OF FUNDS IN CASE PAYMENTS ARE LONG DELAYED. MOREOVER, THE DIRECTOR VIEWS SUCH MONETARY FACTORS, TOGETHER WITH AVANTEK'S CONFIRMATION OF ITS CURRENT DISCOUNT OFFER, AS A REASONABLE BASIS FOR THE CONCLUSION THAT THE 10-PERCENT DISCOUNT WAS THE OFFER AVANTEK ACTUALLY INTENDED. FURTHER, THE DIRECTOR ASSERTS THAT IF A CONTRACT WERE ENTERED INTO WITH AVANTEK AND A CLAIM OF ERROR IN DISCOUNT WERE SUBSEQUENTLY ALLEGED, SUCH CLAIM WOULD APPEAR TO BE FOR DISALLOWANCE. IN SUPPORT OF THIS THE DIRECTOR CITES 18 COMP. GEN. 251, RELATING TO A CLAIM OF ERROR MADE AFTER ACCEPTANCE IN GOOD FAITH OF A BID OFFERING A 25-PERCENT DISCOUNT, 30 DAYS.

AS TO THE CHARGE THAT AN AWARD TO AVANTEK MIGHT LEAD UNSCRUPULOUS BIDDERS TO DELIBERATELY INCLUDE CLERICAL ERRORS IN THEIR PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT OFFERS AND THEREBY OBTAIN "A SECOND BITE AT THE APPLE," THE DIRECTOR CONCEDES THAT SUCH A TACTIC CONCEIVABLY COULD BE EMPLOYED BY UNSCRUPULOUS BIDDERS. HOWEVER, IT IS POINTED OUT, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE IN THIS CASE THAT THE AVANTEK DISCOUNT OFFER WAS DELIBERATELY USED AS A CONTRIVANCE TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE. CONVERSELY, IT IS URGED, DISREGARD OF THE AVANTEK DISCOUNT OFFER AND AWARD TO YOU WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY LEAD TO A PROTEST FROM AVANTEK THAT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO DENY, EXCEPT UPON A CONCLUSION THAT AVANTEK HAD ACTED IN BAD FAITH. IN ADDITION, CANCELLATION OF THE IFB AND READVERTISEMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT, IT IS STATED, WOULD GIVE ALL FIVE BIDDERS ANOTHER "BITE AT THE APPLE.' ACCORDINGLY, THE DIRECTOR TAKES THE POSITION THAT THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION IN THIS CASE IS TO AWARD THE CONTRACT TO AVANTEK. PENDING OUR DECISION ON THE PROTEST, HOWEVER, NO AWARD HAS BEEN MADE AND FURTHER ACTION WILL BE DEFERRED.

NASA PROCUREMENT REGULATION 2.407-3 (B), RELATING TO DISCOUNTS, READS AS FOLLOWS:

"IN DETERMINING WHICH OF SEVERAL BIDS RECEIVED IS THE LOWEST, ANY DISCOUNT OFFERED SHALL BE DEDUCTED FROM THE BID PRICE ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE DISCOUNT WILL BE TAKEN, UNLESS THE DISCOUNT OFFERED IS FOR A LESSER PERIOD THAN THE MINIMUM NUMBER OF DAYS SPECIFIED IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS. (SEE 2.407-3 (A).) IN EVALUATING EQUAL BIDS OFFERING DISCOUNTS MEETING THE MINIMUM DISCOUNT PERIOD REQUIRED BY THE INVITATION, A BID OFFERING A LONGER DISCOUNT PERIOD SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED AS BEING MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. IF A BID OFFERS A PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT, BUT FAILS TO SPECIFY THE PERIOD IN WHICH THE DISCOUNT MAY BE TAKEN, THE DISCOUNT MAY BE CONSIDERED SINCE AWARD TO THE BIDDER GIVES THE GOVERNMENT THE RIGHT TO DEDUCT THE DISCOUNT FROM ANY PAYMENT MADE WITH REASONABLE PROMPTNESS.'

SUCH PROVISIONS SPECIFICALLY CONTEMPLATE A SITUATION SUCH AS IS INVOLVED IN THIS CASE IN WHICH A PARTICULAR BID WILL BE LOW MERELY BECAUSE OF THE PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT OFFERED BY THE BIDDER. ON THE ASSUMPTION, THEREFORE, THAT THE PROCURING ACTIVITY IN SPECIFYING A MINIMUM DISCOUNT PERIOD OF 20 DAYS HAS DETERMINED THAT IT WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT DURING SUCH PERIOD, THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE GOVERNMENT MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO EFFECT PAYMENT WITHIN THE REQUIRED TIME COULD NOT, UNDER THE EXPRESS TERMS OF PARAGRAPH 9 OF STANDARD FORM 33A, JUSTIFY DISREGARD OF A PROPERLY TENDERED DISCOUNT. EVEN WITHOUT ANY PROVISION IN AN INVITATION FOR CONSIDERATION OF SUCH DISCOUNTS WE HAVE HELD IT TO BE PROPER TO APPLY AN OFFERED DISCOUNT IN EVALUATION OF A BID. SEE 40 COMP. GEN. 518.

NASA PR 2.406-3 (D) REQUIRES A CONTRACTING OFFICER WHO SUSPECTS A MISTAKE MAY HAVE BEEN MADE IN A BID TO IMMEDIATELY REQUEST THE BIDDER TO VERIFY THE BID, AND, IF THE BIDDER VERIFIES THE BID, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER SHALL CONSIDER IT AS ORIGINALLY SUBMITTED. THE REGULATION ALSO PROVIDES, HOWEVER, THAT WHERE THE BIDDER FAILS OR REFUSES TO FURNISH EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF THE SUSPECTED OR ALLEGED MISTAKE AND THE AMOUNT IS SO FAR OUT OF LINE WITH THE AMOUNTS OF OTHER BIDS RECEIVED OR WITH THE AMOUNT OF THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE OR THE AMOUNT DETERMINED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO BE REASONABLE, OR THERE ARE OTHER INDICATIONS OF ERROR SO CLEAR AS REASONABLY TO JUSTIFY THE CONCLUSION THAT ACCEPTANCE OF THE BID WOULD BE UNFAIR TO THE BIDDER OR TO OTHER BONA FIDE BIDDERS, THE BID MAY BE REJECTED.

THE INTENT OF SUCH PROVISIONS, WHICH ARE IN ACCORD WITH THE RULES OF COMPETITIVE BIDDING AS SET FORTH IN THE DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE, IS NOT ONLY TO PREVENT THE GOVERNMENT FROM TAKING ADVANTAGE OF AN INNOCENT BIDDER BUT TO PRECLUDE A BIDDER, WHOSE BID IS LOW SOLELY BY REASON OF SOME FACTOR, WHICH CANNOT REASONABLY BE CONSIDERED AS ANYTHING BUT AN ERROR, FROM FOREGOING, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, A CLAIM OF ERROR IN ORDER TO REMAIN LOW, AN ACTION WHICH AMOUNTS TO "SECOND-GUESSING" HIS COMPETITORS. COMP. GEN. 579; ID. 851; 42 COMP. GEN. 723.

THE CONTRACTING OFFICER COMPLIED WITH THE REGULATION BY POINTING OUT THE POSSIBILITY OF ERROR AND REQUESTING VERIFICATION. AVANTEK, HOWEVER, HAS VERIFIED ITS BID, INCLUDING THE DISCOUNT, AND HAS MADE NO CLAIM OF ERROR. THE ONLY QUESTION FOR DECISION, THEREFORE, IS WHETHER NOTWITHSTANDING THE ABSENCE OF SUCH A CLAIM, THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH AS TO REQUIRE THE CONCLUSION THAT THE OFFERED DISCOUNT IS NOT THE DISCOUNT WHICH AVANTEK INTENDED TO QUOTE WHEN THE BID WAS SUBMITTED.

OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT AVANTEK'S DISCOUNT WAS UNUSUALLY HIGH, THE ONLY BASIS WHICH YOU OFFER FOR THE PROPOSITION THAT AVANTEK'S DISCOUNT IS IN ERROR IS THE ALLEGED VARIANCE OF THE DISCOUNT FROM THE "USUAL" DISCOUNT OFFERED BY AVANTEK. NO EVIDENCE IS OFFERED BY YOU AS TO WHAT SUCH ,USUAL" DISCOUNT MIGHT BE, AND THE FACT THAT ONLY ONE OTHER PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT HAS BEEN OFFERED TO THE PROCURING ACTIVITY BY AVANTEK IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS IS OF QUESTIONABLE VALUE IN DECIDING WHICH DISCOUNT MIGHT BE AVANTEK'S "USUAL" DISCOUNT. SINCE AVANTEK HAS NOT ALLEGED ERROR, BUT HAS AFFIRMATIVELY STATED THAT THE 10-PERCENT DISCOUNT WAS A PART OF ITS ORIGINAL OFFER, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE BID SHOULD BE REJECTED UNLESS ERROR IS SHOWN BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, OR UNLESS THERE IS NO REASONABLE EXPLANATION OF THE BID EXCEPT ERROR. THE FACTS ARE THAT THE BID ITSELF CONTAINS NOTHING TO SHOW THAT THE 10 PERCENT WAS NOT THE INTENDED DISCOUNT FOR THIS PROCUREMENT; THE NET PRICE AFTER DEDUCTION OF THAT DISCOUNT IS IN NO WAY OUT OF LINE WITH THE OTHER BIDS; AVANTEK HAS NO CLAIM OF ERROR; AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT AVANTEK HAS DELIBERATELY QUOTED THE 10-PERCENT DISCOUNT IN ORDER TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE. SUCH FACTORS, WE BELIEVE, DISTINGUISH THIS CASE FROM 37 COMP. GEN. 579 AND SIMILAR CASES, ALL OF WHICH HAVE INVOLVED SITUATIONS IN WHICH THE EXISTENCE OF AN ERROR IN BID WAS ESTABLISHED EITHER FROM THE BID ITSELF OR BY EXTRANEOUS EVIDENCE AND IT WAS EVIDENT THAT THE PARTICULAR BIDDER WOULD BE LOW ONLY IF THE ERROR WAS WAIVED, AN ACTION WHICH WE HOLD TO BE PREJUDICIAL TO THE COMPETING BIDDERS AND THEREFORE NOT PROPER.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, WE MUST CONCLUDE THAT THE RECORD DOES NOT SUBSTANTIATE YOUR POSITION THAT THE 10-PERCENT DISCOUNT OFFERED BY AVANTEK IS NECESSARILY AND UNQUESTIONABLY IN ERROR. ACCORDINGLY, AND SINCE NASA PR 2.407-3 (B) AND THE RELATED TERMS OF THE IFB PROVIDE FOR CONSIDERATION OF THE DISCOUNT IN DETERMINING WHICH BID IS LOWEST, WE CONCUR WITH THE POSITION OF THE DIRECTOR OF PROCUREMENT THAT AWARD SHOULD BE MADE TO AVANTEK BASED ON ITS BID AS SO EVALUATED. SEE 44 COMP. GEN. 91. FOR THE REASONS STATED, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.