B-168968, APRIL 24, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN 727

B-168968: Apr 24, 1970

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OTHER REFERENCE MATERIALS DOES NOT JUSTIFY AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE THAT FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR PURCHASES BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ONLY OF SUCH ARTICLES AS WILL MEET THE ACTUAL MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE AGENCIES. IS NOT AUTHORIZED. THE ADOPTION OF A SINGLE AWARD PROCEDURE FOR VARIOUS TYPES OF STANDARD DICTIONARIES IN LIEU OF MULTIPLE AWARDS IS THE PROPER EXERCISE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHERE THE SPECIFICATIONS ADEQUATELY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH NO DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON THE QUALITY OF THE ITEMS BEING PROCURED AND AT A SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT. THE SPECIFICATION ON WHICH THE INVITATION FOR BIDS WAS BASED WAS INTERIM FEDERAL SPECIFICATION G-D- 00331B (GSA-FSS).

B-168968, APRIL 24, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN 727

CONTRACTS -- SPECIFICATIONS -- MINIMUM NEEDS REQUIREMENT -- REFERENCE MATERIALS THE INPUT OF SUBSTANTIAL INTELLECTUAL EFFORT INTO THE PREPARATION OF SPECIFICATIONS FOR DICTIONARIES, ATLASES, ENCYCLOPEDIAS, AND OTHER REFERENCE MATERIALS DOES NOT JUSTIFY AN EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE THAT FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR PURCHASES BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ONLY OF SUCH ARTICLES AS WILL MEET THE ACTUAL MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE AGENCIES, AND THAT PAYMENT OF ANY GREATER AMOUNT FOR THE PURCHASE OF ARTICLES WHICH MAY BE SUPERIOR, OR MAY FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER BE PREFERRED BY ANY INDIVIDUAL OFFICER, IS NOT AUTHORIZED. THEREFORE, THE ADOPTION OF A SINGLE AWARD PROCEDURE FOR VARIOUS TYPES OF STANDARD DICTIONARIES IN LIEU OF MULTIPLE AWARDS IS THE PROPER EXERCISE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHERE THE SPECIFICATIONS ADEQUATELY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH NO DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON THE QUALITY OF THE ITEMS BEING PROCURED AND AT A SAVINGS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

TO THE VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL, ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, APRIL 24, 1970:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER DATED JANUARY 28, 1970, CONCERNING THE OBJECTIONS OF YOUR SUBSIDIARY, G. & C. MERRIAM COMPANY (MERRIAM), TO THE MAKING OF SINGLE AWARDS IN LIEU OF MULTIPLE AWARDS BY THE FEDERAL SUPPLY SERVICE (FSS), GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA), FOR VARIOUS TYPES OF DICTIONARIES BASED ON AN INTERIM FEDERAL SPECIFICATION.

THE FIRST CONTRACT FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS FOR THE TYPES OF DICTIONARIES IN QUESTION UNDER SINGLE AWARD PROCEDURES COVERED THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 1, 1969, THROUGH JANUARY 31, 1970. THE SPECIFICATION ON WHICH THE INVITATION FOR BIDS WAS BASED WAS INTERIM FEDERAL SPECIFICATION G-D- 00331B (GSA-FSS), DATED DECEMBER 20, 1967, AS AMENDED AUGUST 21, 1968, WHICH GSA REPORTS WAS PREPARED AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF INDUSTRY.

IN ITS AMENDED FORM, THE SPECIFICATION COVERED FOUR TYPES OF DICTIONARIES, THREE ABRIDGED AND ONE UNABRIDGED, AND READ, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS: 3. REQUIREMENTS

3.1 STANDARD PRODUCT: EACH TYPE DICTIONARY SHALL BE THE PUBLISHER'S STANDARD PRODUCT WHICH IS SOLD COMMERCIALLY AND SHALL BE OF THE LATEST COPYRIGHTED EDITION.

3.3 CONTENT (ALL TYPES). THE DICTIONARIES SHALL LIST ALPHABETICALLY VOCABULARY TERMS (ENTRIES) OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE COMPLETE WITH THE FOLLOWING: (A) DEFINITIONS, (B) PRONUNCIATIONS OF THE MAIN TERMS BY RESPELLING USING A DEFINED SYSTEM OF PHONETIC REPRESENTATION, (C) PART OR PARTS OF SPEECH OF EACH TERM WITH PART-OF-SPEECH HEADING, (D) DERIVED AND INFLECTED FORMS OF MAIN TERMS (MAY BE EITHER UNDER THE MAIN TERM OR IN PROPER ALPHABETICAL SEQUENCE), AND (E) SYNONYMS AND PICTORIAL ILLUSTRATIONS FOR SELECTED ENTRIES. COMMONLY USED SLANG AND COLLOQUIAL TERMS, TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC WORDS, AND ABBREVIATIONS SHALL BE INCLUDED IN THE LISTS OF VOCABULARY TERMS OR IN ACCOMPANYING APPENDICIES OF THE DICTIONARIES. EACH DICTIONARY SHALL INCLUDE A GENERAL GUIDE FOR ITS PROPER USAGE. ALL PRINTING SHALL BE CLEARLY LEGIBLE AND ONLY BLACK INK SHALL BE USED FOR PRINTING ENTRIES AND DEFINITIONS.

3.3.1 TYPE I. THE DICTIONARY SHALL CONTAIN NOT LESS THAN 18,000 OF THE MOST COMMON VOCABULARY TERMS, ENCOUNTERED BY STUDENTS OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AGE, WHEN TESTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH 4.2.3.2.1. PROPER NOUNS SHALL BE INCLUDED IN THE DICTIONARY AND KEYS TO PRONUNCIATION SHALL BE ON EVERY TWO PAGE SPREAD. SIZE OF TYPE USED FOR ENTRIES AND DEFINITIONS SHALL BE NOT LESS THAN EIGHT POINT.

3.3.2 TYPES II, III AND IV. IN ADDITION TO THE GENERAL CONTENT REQUIREMENTS (SEE 3.3) THE ALPHABETICAL LISTINGS OF VOCABULARY TERMS FOR TYPES II, III AND IV DICTIONARIES SHALL BE COMPLETE WITH: (A) CLEAR AND INFORMATIVE ETYMOLOGIES OF THE MAIN TERMS, (B) USAGE LABELS FOR TERMS, WHERE APPLICABLE (E.G., SLANG, COLLOQUIAL, INFORMAL, OBSOLETE, BRITISH), AND (C) VARIANT SPELLINGS OF TERMS. COMMONLY USED FOREIGN WORDS AND PHRASES SHALL BE INCLUDED IN THE LISTS OF VOCABULARY TERMS.

3.3.2.1 TYPE II. IN ADDITION, THE CONTENTS OF THE TYPE II DICTIONARY SHALL INCLUDE PROPER NOUNS IN THE VOCABULARY LISTING OR IN AN APPENDIX; SHALL INCLUDE KEYS TO PRONUNCIATION ON EVERY TWO PAGE SPREAD: AND SHALL I 9 OT LESS THAN 130,000 ENTRIES WHEN TESTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH 4.2.3.2.1.

3.3.2.2 TYPE III. TYPE III DICTIONARY SHALL CONTAIN NOT LESS THAN 400,000 ENTRIES WHEN CHECKED IN ACCORDANCE WITH 4.2.3.2.1.

QUALITY ASSURANCE PROVISIONS IN SECTION 4 OF THE SPECIFICATION PRESCRIBED VARIOUS TESTS INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING:

4.2.3.2.2 CONTENT, TYPE I. CHECK THE DICTIONARY FOR INCLUSION OF AT LEAST EIGHTEEN OF THE FOLLOWING TWENTY TERMS, EACH COMPLETE WITH, OR MAKING REFERENCE TO (A) DEFINITION, (B) PRONUNCIATION (EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF ABBREVIATIONS), AND (C) PART-OF-SPEECH HEADING (EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF ABBREVIATIONS):

ALBATROSS H-BOMB

CABLEGRAM HERBIVOROUS

CHROMOSOME LATITUDE

CIRCUMNAVIGATE MESOZOIC

ECLIPSE NUCLEAR ENERGY

EQUINOX PARTRIDGE

ETC. PLUTONIUM

FALLOUT RSVP

GALLEON RURAL

GERMAN SOS

4.2.3.2.3 CONTENT, TYPES II AND III. CHECK THE DICTIONARY FOR INCLUSION OF AT LEAST EIGHTEEN OF THE FOLLOWING TWENTY TERMS, EACH COMPLETE WITH, OR MAKING REFERENCE TO (A) DEFINITION, (B) PRONUNCIATION (EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF ABBREVIATIONS), (C) PART-OF-SPEECH HEADING (EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF ABBREVIATIONS), AND (D) ETYMOLOGY (EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF FOREIGN WORDS AND ABBREVIATIONS):

ALLUVIAL ICBM

ALVEOLUS JAYWALK

AUTOBAHN LASER

BATHYSPHERE PARANOIA

COLOUR PERMUTATION

CORKER PETROL

ELECTRON MICROSCOPE ROCK AND ROLL (OR ROCK 'N' ROLL)

ESP SOLARIUM

GENE U-BOAT

HONKY-TONK XYLEM

FOLLOWING A SPECIFICATION DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE ON JULY 31, 1969, WHICH WAS ATTENDED BY REPRESENTATIVES OF THE INDUSTRY, THE INTERIM SPECIFICATION WAS REVISED AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE VIEWS AND COMMENTS OF THE INDUSTRY. THE REVISED SPECIFICATION, WHICH WAS DESIGNATED AS INTERIM FEDERAL SPECIFICATION G-D-00331C (GSA-FSS), DATED SEPTEMBER 29, 1969, INCORPORATED THOSE VIEWS AND COMMENTS OF THE INDUSTRY WHICH WERE CONSIDERED BY FSS TO BE ADVANTAGEOUS IN CONNECTION WITH THE COMPETITIVE PROCUREMENT OF DICTIONARIES.

THE REVISED SPECIFICATION WAS CITED FOR SINGLE-CONTRACT PROCUREMENT OF THE VARIOUS TYPES OF DICTIONARIES INVOLVED FOR THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 1, 1970 (OR DATE OF AWARD) THROUGH JANUARY 31, 1971, WHICH WAS ADVERTISED UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS (IFB) FPNSO-EP-0605-A, ISSUED OCTOBER 17, 1969. PAGE 9 OF THE IFB, BIDDERS WERE INFORMED THAT AWARD WOULD BE MADE ON AN ITEM BY ITEM BASIS AND THAT INDIVIDUAL ITEM QUANTITIES WOULD NOT BE SUBDIVIDED FOR AWARD PURPOSES.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT MERRIAM PARTICIPATED IN BOTH OF THE PROCUREMENTS AND AS LOW BIDDER RECEIVED AWARD OF ONE ITEM UNDER THE FIRST SOLICITATION AND OF ALL THREE ITEMS ON WHICH IT BID UNDER THE SECOND SOLICITATION.

THE SUBSTANCE OF YOUR COMPLAINT IS THAT GOOD DICTIONARIES, LIKE GOOD EDUCATIONAL TEXTBOOKS, SHOULD NOT BE PROCURED SINGLY OR WITH COST AS THE MAJOR CONSIDERATION. IN THIS REGARD, YOU QUESTION HOW SPECIFICATIONS CAN BE WRITTEN TO COVER THE LITERARY AND EDUCATIONAL ASPECTS OF BOOKS, FILMS AND AUDIO-VISUAL AIDS, AND SO FORTH, PARTICULARLY BY THE GOVERNMENT, WITHOUT CAUSING SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS TO FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND INNOVATION.

GSA ADVISED MERRIAM BY LETTER OF JANUARY 20, 1970, THAT THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS (FPR) PROVIDE THAT PURCHASES AND CONTRACTS SHALL BE MADE ON A COMPETITIVE BASIS TO THE MAXIMUM PRACTICABLE EXTENT (FPR 1- 1.301-1) AND THAT OUR OFFICE HAS STRESSED THAT GSA SHOULD DISCONTINUE MULTIPLE AWARDS WHENEVER COMPETITIVE PROCUREMENT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED SATISFACTORILY. ON THE PREMISE, THEREFORE, THAT THE INTERIM FEDERAL SPECIFICATION IS ADEQUATE, GSA STATES THAT THERE IS NO BASIS TO CONTINUE THE PREVIOUSLY USED MULTIPLE-AWARD PROCEDURE FOR PROCUREMENT OF THE DICTIONARIES IN QUESTION. FURTHER, GSA ASSERTS, SINCE IT IS ESSENTIAL, IN GSA'S OPINION, THAT INDUSTRY DETERMINE THE LITERARY AND INTELLECTUAL CONTENT OF THE DICTIONARIES, GSA PROCURES ONLY STANDARD PRODUCTS. (SEE PARAGRAPH 3.1. OF THE INTERIM SPECIFICATION.)

IN A LETTER DATED JANUARY 28, 1970, TO GSA, YOU EXPRESS YOUR OPINION THAT OUR OFFICE DOES NOT CONTEMPLATE DISCONTINUANCE OF MULTIPLE AWARDS FOR PROCUREMENT OF INTELLECTUAL MATERIALS. IN YOUR LETTER OF THE SAME DATE TO OUR OFFICE YOU MAKE THE FOLLOWING PERTINENT STATEMENTS:

THE QUESTION IS: DOES THE GAO EMPHASIS, REFERRED TO BY MR. CHAPMAN, THAT GSA SHOULD DISCONTINUE MULTIPLE AWARDS WHENEVER PROCUREMENT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED SATISFACTORILY, INTEND TO REACH A JUDGMENT OF WHETHER MATERIALS WITH SUBSTANTIAL INTELLECTUAL INPUT, SUCH AS DICTIONARIES, ATLASES, ENCYCLOPEDIAS AND OTHER REFERENCE MATERIALS CAN OR SHOULD BE REDUCED TO FULL SPECIFICATIONS? CERTAINLY THERE CAN BE AND SHOULD BE SPECIFICATIONS ON THE PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF DICTIONARIES--SIZE OF TYPE, QUALITY OF PAPER AND BINDINGS, NUMBER OF ENTRIES, ETC.--BUT WE ARGUE THERE CANNOT BE SPECIFICATIONS ON THE INTELLECTUAL INPUT WHICH CONSTITUTES A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE VALUE OF THE PRODUCT AND THAT, THEREFORE, THE MULTIPLE AWARD APPROACH IS PROPER.

AS I READ THE GAO POSITION, IT IS ONE OF URGING THE USE OF SINGLE AWARDS WHEREVER APPROPRIATE, BUT THE DECISION OF APPROPRIATENESS WITHIN REASON LIES WITH THE PROCURING AGENCY, IN THIS INSTANCE GSA.

BY LETTER DATED MARCH 3, GSA HAS ADVISED OUR OFFICE THAT NO OBJECTIONS WERE MADE BY THE INDUSTRY TO THE 1967 INTERIM SPECIFICATION OR TO THE SOLICITATION COVERING THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 1, 1969, THROUGH JANUARY 31, 1970, IN WHICH THE 1967 SPECIFICATION WAS CITED, UNTIL AFTER THE BID OPENING, WHEN MERRIAM INTERPOSED VARIOUS OBJECTIONS. IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT PURCHASES OF GOVERNMENT NEEDS FOR DICTIONARIES DURING THE PERIOD OF THE CONTRACT AT THE LOW BID PRICES RESULTED IN AN ESTIMATED SAVING OF $195,000 BY THE GOVERNMENT, WHEN COMPARED WITH THE BEST PRICES AVAILABLE UNDER THE LAST PREVIOUS SUPPLY SCHEDULE MULTIPLE AWARD CONTRACTS. UNDER THE CURRENT CONTRACT, GSA STATES, THE EXPECTED ANNUAL SAVING TO THE GOVERNMENT, ALSO BY COMPARISON WITH THE SAME MULTIPLE AWARD FEDERAL SUPPLY SCHEDULE, IS ESTIMATED AS $245,533.

IN LIGHT OF THE SAVINGS IN BOTH PROCUREMENTS, AND FOR THE OTHER REASONS STATED ABOVE, GSA CONSIDERS THAT THE SINGLE-AWARD COMPETITIVE PROCEDURE IS JUSTIFIED.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION THERE IS ENCLOSED A COPY OF OFFICE LETTER OF FEBRUARY 7, 1956, B-121926, B-122682, TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF GENERAL SERVICES, IN WHICH OUR VIEWS AS TO THE USE OF MULTIPLE AWARDS FOR FEDERAL SUPPLY SCHEDULE ITEMS ARE DEVELOPED AT SOME LENGTH, AND WHICH INDICATES THE BASIS FOR OUR RECOMMENDATIONS THAT SUCH AWARDS BE LIMITED SO FAR AS POSSIBLE TO CERTAIN SPECIFIC SITUATIONS.

WHILE THERE IS NOTHING IN THAT LETTER WITH RESPECT TO "MATERIALS WITH SUBSTANTIAL INTELLECTUAL INPUT," YOUR QUESTION IS WHETHER OUR EMPHASIS UPON DISCONTINUANCE OF MULTIPLE AWARDS IS INTENDED TO REACH A JUDGMENT AS TO WHETHER SUCH MATERIALS "CAN OR SHOULD BE REDUCED TO FULL SPECIFICATIONS."

WITH RESPECT TO DICTIONARIES AS A SUBJECT OF PROCUREMENT FOR GOVERNMENT USE, WE BELIEVE THAT THE QUESTION RAISED BY YOU CAN BE RESOLVED ON THE SAME BASIS AS WOULD APPLY TO ANY OTHER COMMERCIAL ARTICLE OF COMMON USE: CAN THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE ARTICLE BE ADEQUATELY STATED IN SUCH A WAY THAT ANY ARTICLE CONFORMING TO THE STATED CRITERIA WOULD SATISFACTORILY SERVE THE GOVERNMENT'S PURPOSES?

IN THIS INSTANCE THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, WHICH IS CHARGED WITH THE AUTHORITY AND DUTY OF MAKING SUCH DETERMINATIONS AND DRAFTING APPROPRIATE SPECIFICATIONS, HAS, AFTER CONSULTING AND ADVISING WITH PUBLISHERS, PROMULGATED SPECIFICATIONS WHICH IT CONSIDERS APPROPRIATE FOR USE IN PURCHASING DICTIONARIES.

WHILE WE CANNOT QUESTION YOUR POSITION THAT DICTIONARIES REPRESENT SUBSTANTIAL INTELLECTUAL INPUT, WE DO NOT FEEL THAT WE COULD ON THAT BASIS ALONE QUESTION GSA'S CONCLUSION THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS FOR DICTIONARIES CAN BE SATISFACTORILY MET BY ANY DICTIONARY CONFORMING TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS WHICH IT HAS PREPARED. ASSUMING THAT THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE GOVERNMENT PURCHASES DICTIONARIES FOR USE BY ITS EMPLOYEES IS TO FACILITATE THE PROCESS OF COMMUNICATION BY USE OF LANGUAGE, THE DICTIONARY IS SIMPLY A TOOL, AND ITS SUITABILITY FOR SUCH USE APPEARS TO BE AS CAPABLE OF BEING JUDGED AS IS THE FITNESS OF ANY OTHER TOOL FOR ITS INTENDED USE.

WITH RESPECT TO MULTIPLE AWARDS GENERALLY, IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT AGENCIES MAKING PURCHASES OF ARTICLES FOR WHICH MORE THAN ONE SOURCE IS AVAILABLE ARE REQUIRED, WHEN PURCHASING OTHER THAN THE LOWEST PRICED ITEM, TO BE PREPARED TO FURNISH SUBSTANTIAL JUSTIFICATION FOR SUCH ACTION. APPLYING THE INTENT OF THAT RULE TO THE ESTIMATED REQUIREMENTS FOR DICTIONARIES STATED IN THE INVITATION ON WHICH THE CURRENT CONTRACT WAS AWARDED, THE QUESTION ARISES WHETHER THERE COULD BE SHOWN SUFFICIENT DIFFERENCES, IN SUITABILITY FOR GOVERNMENT USE, BETWEEN SEVERAL STANDARD DICTIONARIES FOR WHICH MULTIPLE AWARDS MIGHT BE MADE, TO JUSTIFY THE EXPENDITURE OF THE AMOUNTS WHICH GSA ESTIMATES TO BE THE SAVINGS REALIZED BY THE MAKING OF SINGLE AWARDS. IN OTHER WORDS, CAN IT BE DEMONSTRATED THAT ANY ONE OF SUCH DICTIONARIES IS SO SUPERIOR TO ANOTHER, IN ITS USEFULNESS FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S PURPOSES, AS WOULD JUSTIFY THE PAYMENT OF A PREMIUM OF APPROXIMATELY 50 PERCENT, AMOUNTING TO SOME $200,000 TO $250,000 PER YEAR, TO OBTAIN IT? THE GENERAL RULE UNIFORMLY ADHERED TO BY THIS OFFICE AND ITS PREDECESSOR AUTHORITIES IN THE GOVERNMENT IS THAT FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE CONGRESS FOR PURCHASES BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ONLY OF SUCH ARTICLES AS WILL MEET THEIR ACTUAL MINIMUM NEEDS, AND THAT PAYMENT OF ANY GREATER AMOUNT FOR THE PURCHASE OF ARTICLES WHICH MAY BE SUPERIOR, OR MAY FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER BE PREFERRED BY ANY INDIVIDUAL AGENCY OR OFFICER, IS NOT AUTHORIZED. WE DO NOT FEEL THAT AN EXCEPTION CAN BE JUSTIFIED BY THE FACT THAT THE ARTICLE PURCHASED EMBODIES THE RESULTS OF SUBSTANTIAL INTELLECTUAL INPUT, WHERE THE ARTICLE ITSELF IS ONE OF A NUMBER OF SIMILAR COMMERCIAL ITEMS OF WIDESPREAD GENERAL USE, FREELY AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC IN THE COMMON MARKET PLACE, ANY ONE OF WHICH IS FOUND TO BE ADEQUATE FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS.

IN 38 COMP. GEN. 235 (1958), WE HAD OCCASION TO CONSIDER A SOMEWHAT SIMILAR PROCUREMENT SITUATION. IN THAT CASE, GSA INVITED OFFERS TO SUPPLY, UNDER SEPARATE AWARDS, EACH OF THREE TYPES OF COATED STEEL ADDRESSING PLATES. WHILE THE PROCUREMENT WAS PENDING, GSA ASCERTAINED, FROM INFORMATION OBTAINED DURING AN INVESTIGATION OF DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED WITH ONE TYPE OF COATING, THAT THE COATING WAS NOT AT FAULT; RATHER, THE INVESTIGATION INDICATED THAT WHEN CUT TO PROPER DIMENSIONS, EACH OF THE THREE TYPES OF COATED PLATES PERFORMED SATISFACTORILY. GSA THEREFORE PREPARED AN INTERIM FEDERAL SPECIFICATION PROVIDING FOR USE OF ANY ONE OF THE THREE TYPES OF COATING AT THE OPTION OF THE BIDDER, CANCELED THE OUTSTANDING SOLICITATION, AND READVERTISED THE PROCUREMENT UNDER SINGLE-AWARD PROCEDURES USING THE INTERIM SPECIFICATION. UPHOLDING THE ACTIONS TAKEN BY GSA, WHICH ONE SUPPLIER PROTESTED FOR THE REASON, AMONG OTHERS, THAT THE COATED PLATES WERE ALL DIFFERENT AND SHOULD BE PROCURED SEPARATELY, WE STATED THAT IN LIGHT OF THE INFORMATION FURNISHED BY GSA NO PROPER BASIS EXISTED FOR THE MAKING OF SEPARATE AWARDS FOR THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PLATES. WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE USE OF MULTIPLE AWARDS, WE FURTHER STATED:

THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION HAS, FOR SOME TIME, IN ACCORDANCE WITH RECOMMENDATIONS MADE BY OUR OFFICE, ENDEAVORED TO CURTAIL THE USE OF MULTIPLE AWARDS WHEREVER POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF THE PROBABILITY THAT IN MOST INSTANCES THE RESULTING CONTRACTS WOULD BE LEGALLY UNENFORCEABLE EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT PERFORMED. WE HAVE CONSIDERED THAT A MULTIPLICITY OF AWARDS COVERING IDENTICAL OR SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR SUPPLIES TO BE FURNISHED TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT WOULD ORDINARILY BE WHOLLY INCONSISTENT WITH ANY OBLIGATION OF THE GOVERNMENT TO ANY INDIVIDUAL CONTRACTOR. WITH RESPECT TO THE SUBJECT OF MUTUALITY AND ENFORCEABILITY OF CONTRACTS TO FURNISH THE NEEDS, DESIRES, WANTS, AND THE LIKE, OF ANOTHER, SEE 26 A. L. R. 2D 1139, 1141, 1142; WILLARD, SUTHERLAND & CO. V UNITED STATES, 262 U.S. 489; AND ATWATER & COMPANY V UNITED STATES, 262 U.S. 495.

FOR ALL THE REASONS DISCUSSED, WE DO NOT FEEL THAT WE COULD PROPERLY HOLD THAT THE SPECIFICATION IN QUESTION IS NOT JUSTIFIED AND ADEQUATE FOR PROCUREMENT OF THE DICTIONARIES IN QUESTION, OR THAT THERE HAS BEEN ANY DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON THE QUALITY OF THE ITEMS SUPPLIED TO THE GOVERNMENT. WE THEREFORE CONCLUDE THAT GSA'S DETERMINATION THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S ADVANTAGE LIES NOT IN MULTIPLE AWARDS BUT IN SINGLE AWARDS FOR EACH TYPE OF DICTIONARY IS A PROPER EXERCISE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH IS IN KEEPING WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE APPLICABLE REGULATIONS AND THE RULES OF COMPETITIVE BIDDING AS REFLECTED IN THE DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE.