B-168085, DEC. 29, 1969 - CON.

B-168085: Dec 29, 1969

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ACCEPTANCE TIME LIMITATION UPON ALL OFFERORS UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS BEING DETERMINED NONRESPONSIVE TO DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE REQUIREMENT OF INVITATION WHICH NECESSITATED CANCELLATION BUT BIDDERS WERE REQUESTED TO SUBMIT NEW QUOTATIONS WITH COMPLETE DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE ON BASIS "AWARD MAY BE MADE BASED ON QUOTATION SUBMITTED WITHOUT FURTHER NEGOTIATION" AND ALL QUOTATIONS WERE DETERMINED RESPONSIVE. PROTEST TO AWARD ON BASIS THAT OFFER HAD LAPSED AND WAS ILLEGAL SINCE QUOTATIONS WERE SUBJECT TO SPECIFICATIONS AND TERMS OF INVITATION WHICH INCLUDED 60-DAY ACCEPTANCE PERIOD IS DENIED. RIGHT WHICH IS CONFERRED BY EXPIRATION OF ACCEPTANCE PERIOD IS CONFERRED UPON BIDDER AND SUCH RIGHT MAY BE WAIVED IF BIDDER IS STILL WILLING TO ACCEPT AWARD ON BASIS OF PROPOSAL SUBMITTED.

B-168085, DEC. 29, 1969 - CON.

NEGOTIATION--REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS--ACCEPTANCE TIME LIMITATION UPON ALL OFFERORS UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS BEING DETERMINED NONRESPONSIVE TO DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE REQUIREMENT OF INVITATION WHICH NECESSITATED CANCELLATION BUT BIDDERS WERE REQUESTED TO SUBMIT NEW QUOTATIONS WITH COMPLETE DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE ON BASIS "AWARD MAY BE MADE BASED ON QUOTATION SUBMITTED WITHOUT FURTHER NEGOTIATION" AND ALL QUOTATIONS WERE DETERMINED RESPONSIVE, PROTEST TO AWARD ON BASIS THAT OFFER HAD LAPSED AND WAS ILLEGAL SINCE QUOTATIONS WERE SUBJECT TO SPECIFICATIONS AND TERMS OF INVITATION WHICH INCLUDED 60-DAY ACCEPTANCE PERIOD IS DENIED. RIGHT WHICH IS CONFERRED BY EXPIRATION OF ACCEPTANCE PERIOD IS CONFERRED UPON BIDDER AND SUCH RIGHT MAY BE WAIVED IF BIDDER IS STILL WILLING TO ACCEPT AWARD ON BASIS OF PROPOSAL SUBMITTED. NEGOTIATION --COMPETITION--AWARD UNDER INITIAL PROPOSALS UPON CANCELLATION OF INVITATION, ALL BIDS BEING DETERMINED NONRESPONSIVE, AND REQUEST FOR NEW QUOTATIONS ON BASIS AWARD MAY BE MADE ON QUOTATIONS SUBMITTED WITHOUT FURTHER NEGOTIATION, CONTRACTING OFFICER UPON RECEIPT OF PRICE REDUCTION AFTER CLOSING DATE BUT BEFORE AWARD DETERMINED REVISION UNACCEPTABLE UNDER LATE PROPOSAL CLAUSE OF REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS. BECAUSE CONTRACTING OFFICER HAS AUTHORITY TO MAKE AWARDS ON BASIS OF INITIAL PROPOSALS WITHOUT FURTHER DISCUSSION WHERE ADEQUATE COMPETITION EXISTS AND OFFERORS ARE NOTIFIED OF SUCH POSSIBILITY, AND SINCE BOTH CONDITIONS WERE COMPLIED WITH, GAO WILL NOT QUESTION AWARD MADE ON SUCH BASIS, NOR DOES ANY BASIS EXIST IN RECORD TO CONCLUDE THAT CONTRACTING OFFICER'S ACTION IN HANDLING REVISION AS LATE PROPOSAL WAS ERRONEOUS. Y IN THE FIRST INSTANCE."

TO VECTOR AN AYDIN COMPANY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED OCTOBER 8, 1969, PROTESTING AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO MICROCOM CORPORATION (MICROCOM) UNDER REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS (RFQ) NO. N00156-69-Q-2444, ISSUED BY THE NAVAL AIR ENGINEERING CENTER (NAEC), PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA.

THIS PROCUREMENT, FOR ALTERNATE QUANTITIES OF 6, 8, OR TEN 16 CHANNEL FM/FM TELEMETRY SYSTEMS PLUS DATA, WAS ORIGINALLY SOLICITED UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS (IFB) NO. N00156-69-B-0615, ISSUED APRIL 28, 1969. MAY 28, 1969, THE BIDS OF FIVE OFFERORS WERE OPENED, ABSTRACTED, AND THEREAFTER REFERRED BY NAEC TO THE NAVAL AIR TEST FACILITY (NATF), LAKEHURST, NEW JERSEY, FOR TECHNICAL EVALUATION. THE TECHNICAL REVIEW BY NATF REVEALED THAT ALL FIVE BIDDERS WERE NONRESPONSIVE TO THE DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE REQUIREMENTS OF THE IFB. AS A CONSEQUENCE, THE IFB WAS CANCELED.

ON JUNE 27, 1969, AFTER THE LATE BID OF A SIXTH BIDDER HAD BEEN EVALUATED AND FOUND NONRESPONSIVE TO THE DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE CLAUSE OF THE IFB, ALL SIX BIDDERS WERE NOTIFIED OF THE CANCELLATION AND OF NAEC'S DETERMINATION TO OBTAIN THE PROCUREMENT THROUGH NEGOTIATION. EACH OF THE BIDDERS WAS ADVISED TO SUBMIT NEW QUOTATIONS WITH COMPLETE DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE. ALSO, BIDDERS WERE ADVISED THAT "AWARD MAY BE MADE BASED ON YOUR QUOTATION AS SUBMITTED, WITHOUT FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS," AND THAT QUOTATIONS WERE SUBJECT TO THE ATTACHED "LATE PROPOSALS" CLAUSE. QUOTATIONS MADE IN RESPONSE TO THIS LETTER WERE TO BE IDENTIFIED WITH "RFQ NO. N00156-69-Q-2444."

ON JULY 25, 1969, THE CLOSING DATE FOR QUOTATIONS, FOUR QUOTATIONS WERE RECEIVED AND ABSTRACTED. VECTOR'S QUOTE ON A QUANTITY OF 10 TELEMETRY SYSTEMS PLUS DATA WAS $121,510, WHILE MICROCOM'S QUOTE FOR THE SAME QUANTITY WAS $86,067. ACCORDING TO THE REPORT RECEIVED BY OUR OFFICE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, NATF THEREAFTER EVALUATED ALL FOUR OF THE QUOTATIONS AND FOUND THEM TO BE TECHNICALLY RESPONSIVE. NATF ADVISED NAEC THAT IT PLANNED TO RECOMMEND AWARD FOR A QUANTITY OF 10 TELEMETRY SYSTEMS AS SOON AS FISCAL YEAR 1970 FUNDS WERE AVAILABLE.

AFTER THE CLOSING DATE FOR QUOTATIONS BUT BEFORE AWARD, VECTOR SUBMITTED A REVISED OFFER REDUCING ITS QUOTATION FOR A QUANTITY OF 10 TELEMETRY SYSTEMS FROM $121,510 TO $85,400. THIS REVISION WAS THEN EVALUATED UNDER PARAGRAPH 3-506 (C) (II) OF THE ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR), AUTHORIZING THE CONSIDERATION OF A LATE PROPOSAL IF IT IS OF "EXTREME IMPORTANCE" TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHEN IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE REVISION HAD NO "EXTREME IMPORTANCE," THE REVISION WAS DETERMINED TO BE UNACCEPTABLE UNDER THE LATE PROPOSALS CLAUSE OF THE RFQ. CONSEQUENTLY, WHEN FUNDS BECAME AVAILABLE, AWARD WAS MADE TO MICROCOM ON THE BASIS OF ITS INITIAL PROPOSAL. AWARD WAS MADE ON OCTOBER 1, 1969, AND MICROCOM SIGNED THE CONTRACT ON OCTOBER 6, 1969.

YOU FIRST CONTEND THAT THE AWARD WAS MADE TO MICROCOM AFTER ITS OFFER HAD LAPSED AND, HENCE, THE AWARD WAS ILLEGAL. BECAUSE THE NAEC LETTER DATED JUNE 27, 1969, REQUESTED QUOTATIONS "SUBJECT TO THE SPECIFICATIONS AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BID" YOU MAINTAIN THAT, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE OFFER PROVISIONS OF THE IFB, QUOTATIONS WOULD REMAIN IN EFFECT NO LONGER THAN 60 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF RECEIPT UNLESS A DIFFERENT PERIOD WAS STIPULATED BY THE OFFERORS. CONSEQUENTLY, SINCE THE CLOSING DATE FOR QUOTATIONS WAS ESTABLISHED AS JULY 25, 1969, MICROCOM'S OFFER LAPSED ON SEPTEMBER 25, 1969, AND THEREAFTER THERE WAS NO OFFER IN EFFECT WHICH COULD BE ACCEPTED.

THIS SAME CONTENTION WAS PRESENTED FOR OUR CONSIDERATION IN 46 COMP. GEN. 371 (1966), WHICH INVOLVED THE LATE ACCEPTANCE OF A BID. IN UPHOLDING THE AWARD IN THAT CASE, NOTWITHSTANDING THE LATE ACCEPTANCE, WE STATED AT PAGES 372-373:

"IN REGARD TO YOUR SECOND CONTENTION, IT IS NOTED THAT THE 60-DAY BID ACCEPTANCE PERIOD ENDED ON SATURDAY MAY 28, 1966, WHICH OCCURRED ON THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. IT IS REPORTED THAT ON THE FIRST WORKING DAY THEREAFTER (TUESDAY MAY 31, 1966) THE AIR FORCE REQUESTED AND RECEIVED AN EXTENSION OF THE TIME FOR ACCEPTANCE OF ITS BID FROM BELFORT BY LETTER DATED MAY 31, 1966, READING IN ITS ENTIRETY AS FOLLOWS:

"'CONFIRMING OUR TELEPHONE CONVERSATION OF TODAY, WE HEREBY GRANT AN EXTENSION OF FORTY-FIVE (45) DAYS FROM MAY 29, 1966, FOR ACCEPTANCE OF THE ABOVE INVITATION FOR BIDDING.'

"THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S REPORT STATES THAT WHILE THE EXTENSION WAS NOT REQUESTED OR RECEIVED PRIOR TO EXPIRATION OF THE ORIGINAL 60 DAY PERIOD, IT WAS CONSIDERED IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PERMIT THE BIDDER TO WAIVE THE TIME LIMITATION SINCE, IN HIS OPINION, SUCH TIME LIMITATION WAS SOLELY FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE BIDDER AND MAY BE WAIVED BY HIM IF HE IS STILL WILLING TO ACCEPT THE AWARD. WHILE WE QUESTION WHETHER THE TIME LIMITATION WAS SOLELY FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE BIDDER DURING THE PERIOD FROM BID OPENING UNTIL EXPIRATION OF THE ACCEPTANCE PERIOD SET OUT IN THE BIDS, IT IS CLEAR THAT EXPIRATION OF THE ACCEPTANCE PERIOD OPERATED TO DEPRIVE THE GOVERNMENT OF ANY RIGHT TO CREATE A CONTRACT BY ACCEPTANCE ACTION AND TO CONFER UPON THE BIDDER A RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PERFORM ANY CONTRACT AWARDED TO HIM THEREAFTER. THUS, SINCE THE ONLY RIGHT WHICH IS CONFERRED BY EXPIRATION OF THE ACCEPTANCE PERIOD IS CONFERRED UPON THE BIDDER, IT FOLLOWS THAT THE BIDDER MAY WAIVE SUCH RIGHT IF, FOLLOWING EXPIRATION OF THE ACCEPTANCE PERIOD, HE IS STILL WILLING TO ACCEPT AN AWARD ON THE BASIS OF THE BID AS SUBMITTED. WE HAVE SO HELD. -143404, NOVEMBER 25, 1960; 42 COMP. GEN. 604, 606. IN THE INSTANT CASE, BELFORT GRANTED A 45-DAY EXTENSION FOR ACCEPTANCE OF ITS BID AND THE AIR FORCE AWARDED THE CONTRACT WITHIN THIS EXTENDED PERIOD. THE FACT THAT SUCH EXTENSION WAS NOT REQUESTED NOR RECEIVED PRIOR TO EXPIRATION OF THE ORIGINAL 60 DAY PERIOD DOES NOT, IN OUR OPINION, ALTER THE CONCLUSION REACHED. SEE 19 COMP. GEN. 356 AND 34 ID. 535 WHERE, AFTER THE REJECTION OF ALL BIDS, OUR OFFICE AUTHORIZED THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE ORIGINAL LOW BID UPON REINSTATEMENT OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS IF THE BIDDERS IN THOSE CASES WERE WILLING TO ACCEPT AWARD ON THE BASIS OF THEIR ORIGINAL BIDS."

THE FOREGOING IS EQUALLY APPLICABLE TO SITUATIONS WHERE THE PROCUREMENT IS ACCOMPLISHED UNDER NEGOTIATION PROCEDURES. SEE B 167190, NOVEMBER 14, 1969. ON THE BASIS OF THE FOREGOING, WE CANNOT AGREE WITH YOUR CONTENTION RELATIVE TO THE LATE ACCEPTANCE OR WITH YOUR POSITION THAT THE LATE ACCEPTANCE CAUSED THE PROCUREMENT TO BE SOLE SOURCE.

YOU NEXT CONTEND THAT THE AWARD TO MICROCOM ON AN INITIAL PROPOSAL BASIS WAS UNWARRANTED IN VIEW OF THE CANCELLATION OF THE ORIGINAL IFB. FURTHERMORE, YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR PRICE MODIFICATION NOT ONLY PUT VECTOR WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE BUT CREATED AN UNCERTAINTY AS TO THE PRICING OF YOUR PROPOSAL AND THAT THESE MATTERS REQUIRED NEGOTIATION UNDER ASPR 3- 805.1 (A) (V). THE FAILURE TO NEGOTIATE, YOU URGE, REQUIRES CANCELLATION UNDER 45 COMP. GEN. 417 (1966).

SECTION 2304 (A) (10) OF TITLE 10 OF THE U.S.C. AUTHORIZES THE NEGOTIATED PURCHASE OF PROPERTY OR SERVICES FOR WHICH IT IS IMPRACTICABLE TO OBTAIN COMPETITION. SINCE ASPR 3-210.2 (III), IMPLEMENTING THIS AUTHORITY, SPECIFICALLY PROVIDES THAT A CONTRACT OR PURCHASE MAY BE NEGOTIATED IF NO RESPONSIVE BID HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM A RESPONSIBLE BIDDER PURSUANT TO FORMAL ADVERTISING, FURTHER DISCUSSION AS TO WHETHER THE CIRCUMSTANCES HERE REQUIRED NEGOTIATION IS NOT WARRANTED. ALSO, THE FINDING REQUIRED TO SUPPORT NEGOTIATION UNDER 10 U.S.C. 2304 (A) (10) IS FINAL BY REASON OF 10 U.S.C. 2310 (B) AND HENCE MAY NOT BE QUESTIONED BY OUR OFFICE.

ASPR 3-805.1 (A) (V), IMPLEMENTING 10 U.S.C. 2304 (G), PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"(A) AFTER RECEIPT OF INITIAL PROPOSALS, WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSIONS SHALL BE CONDUCTED WITH ALL RESPONSIBLE OFFERORS WHO SUBMIT PROPOSALS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS (INCLUDING TECHNICAL QUALITY WHERE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS ARE REQUESTED) CONSIDERED, EXCEPT THAT THIS REQUIREMENT NEED NOT NECESSARILY BE APPLIED TO:

"(V) PROCUREMENTS IN WHICH IT CAN BE CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED FROM THE EXISTENCE OF ADEQUATE COMPETITION OR ACCURATE PRIOR COST EXPERIENCE WITH THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE THAT ACCEPTANCE OF THE MOST FAVORABLE INITIAL PROPOSAL WITHOUT DISCUSSION WOULD RESULT IN A FAIR AND REASONABLE PRICE. (PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT IN SUCH PROCUREMENTS, THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS SHALL NOTIFY ALL OFFERORS OF THE POSSIBILITY THAT AWARD MAY BE MADE WITHOUT DISCUSSION OF PROPOSALS RECEIVED AND HENCE, THAT PROPOSALS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED INITIALLY ON THE MOST FAVORABLE TERMS FROM A PRICE AND TECHNICAL STANDPOINT WHICH THE OFFEROR CAN SUBMIT TO THE GOVERNMENT. ANY CASE WHERE THERE IS UNCERTAINTY AS TO THE PRICING OR TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF ANY PROPOSALS, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER SHALL NOT MAKE AWARD WITHOUT FURTHER EXPLORATION AND DISCUSSION PRIOR TO AWARD. * * *"

UNDER ASPR 3-805.1 (A) (V) THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CLEARLY HAS AUTHORITY TO MAKE AWARDS ON THE BASIS OF INITIAL PROPOSALS RECEIVED WITHOUT FURTHER DISCUSSION WHERE ADEQUATE COMPETITION OR ACCURATE PRIOR COST EXPERIENCE EXISTS, PROVIDED THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS NOTIFIES ALL OFFERORS OF THIS POSSIBILITY. IN THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S LETTER OF JUNE 27, 1969, WHICH REQUESTED YOUR QUOTATION, SUCH NOTICE WAS EXPRESSLY GIVEN.

SINCE FOUR FIRMS OFFERED QUOTES IN RESPONSE TO THE RFQ OF JUNE 27, 1969, THERE EXISTED THE ADEQUATE COMPETITION DEMANDED BY ASPR 3-805.1 (A) (V) AS A PREREQUISITE TO MAKING AN AWARD ON AN INITIAL PROPOSAL BASIS. CONSEQUENTLY, THE DETERMINATION OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO MAKE THE AWARD ON SUCH A BASIS WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY OUR OFFICE. THE DECISION CITED BY YOU, 45 COMP. GEN. 417 (1966), IS DISTINGUISHABLE ON ITS FACTS FROM THE SITUATION HERE AND, THEREFORE, IS NOT APPLICABLE. IN THAT CASE, THE AWARD OF A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CONTRACT WAS MADE NOT ON AN INITIAL PROPOSAL BASIS BUT ONLY AFTER NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN CONDUCTED WITH BUT ONE OF TWO ACCEPTABLE PROPOSERS IN CONTRAVENTION OF 10 U.S.C. 2304 (G). ASPR 3-805.1 (A) (V) WAS SPECIFICALLY HELD TO BE INAPPLICABLE TO THE SITUATION DISCUSSED IN THE CITED CASE.

INSOFAR AS YOUR PRICE REVISION IS CONCERNED, WE FIND NOTHING IN THE RECORD WHICH WOULD LEAD US TO CONCLUDE THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S ACTION IN HANDLING THE REVISION AS A LATE PROPOSAL UNDER ASPR 3-506 WAS ERRONEOUS. FURTHER, WE FAIL TO SEE HOW YOUR LATE PRICE REVISION CREATED A PRICING UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHICH FURTHER EXPLORATION AND DISCUSSION ARE REQUIRED UNDER ASPR 3-508.1 (A) (V).

WE HAVE TAKEN THE POSITION THAT THE LATE PROPOSAL PROVISIONS OF ASPR 3- 506 DO NOT PRECLUDE THE OPENING OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH ALL OFFERORS COMPETITIVELY SITUATED UPON THE RECEIPT OF A LATE MODIFICATION TO A TIMELY OFFER WHICH FAIRLY INDICATES THAT SUCH NEGOTIATIONS WOULD PROVE TO BE HIGHLY ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. 47 COMP. GEN. 279 (1967). HOWEVER, THE RECEIPT OF YOUR LATE PRICE REVISION DID NOT REQUIRE THE REOPENING OF NEGOTIATIONS AFTER THE CLOSING DATE. CERTAINLY, THE DIFFERENCE OF $667 BETWEEN YOUR MODIFIED PRICE AND THE CONTRACT PRICE, INCLUDING DISCOUNT, WAS NOT SUBSTANTIAL. CF. 47 COMP. GEN. 219 (1967) WHERE THE LATE OFFER WAS $102,138 BELOW THE CONTRACT PRICE. MORE IMPORTANT, THE RECORD INDICATES THAT YOUR PRICE REVISION RESULTED FROM CIRCUMSTANCES FAMILIAR TO YOUR COMPANY, I.E; THE TAKEOVER BY AYDIN WHICH AFFECTED YOUR LABOR AND BURDEN RATES. SINCE IT REASONABLY CAN BE ASSURED THAT THE INITIALLY SUBMITTED QUOTATIONS WERE ALREADY THE BEST WHICH THE RESPECTIVE PROPOSERS COULD OFFER, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT NEGOTIATIONS UNDERTAKEN ON THE BASIS OF YOUR LATE OFFER OF A $667 SAVINGS, WITH ALL THE PROPOSERS WOULD HAVE BEEN "HIGHLY ADVANTAGEOUS" TO THE GOVERNMENT.

WE CONCLUDE, THEREFORE, THAT THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS UPON WHICH OUR OFFICE MAY PROPERLY DISTURB THE PRESENT AWARD. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED. HOWEVER, WE BELIEVE THAT THE COMMENT BELOW FROM 47 COMP. GEN. 279, AT 282, MAY BE APPLICABLE TO THE PROCEDURES UTILIZED HERE:

"THE WRITTEN FINDINGS BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER EXECUTED IN SUPPORT OF HIS DETERMINATION TO NEGOTIATE UNDER 10 U.S.C. 2304 (A) (10) ARE MADE FINAL BY STATUTE (10 U.S.C. 2310 (B)) AND, THUS, CANNOT BE LEGALLY QUESTIONED BY OUR OFFICE. HOWEVER, WE THINK IT CONSISTENT WITH THE FACTS TO STATE THAT WHILE, ON THE ONE HAND, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER INVOKED NEGOTIATION AUTHORITY TO ACCOMPLISH THE PROCUREMENT; ON THE OTHER, HE MADE NO USE OF THE PROCEDURES PERMITTED BY THAT AUTHORITY IN THE FACE OF A SITUATION WHICH CLEARLY CALLED FOR ITS USE. FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES FORMAL ADVERTISING PROCEDURES WERE ACTUALLY USED IN AWARDING THE CONTRACT. IN VIEW OF THIS AND, ALSO, SINCE AT LEAST THREE RESPONSIVE, RESPONSIBLE OFFERS WERE RECEIVED, WE QUESTION THE WISDOM AND NECESSITY OF INVOKING NEGOTIATION AUTHORIT ..END :