B-171664(1), JUN 2, 1971

B-171664(1): Jun 2, 1971

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THE DEPARTMENT SHOULD DETERMINE WHETHER THERE IS ANY MERIT TO THE CONTENTION CONCERNING THE INADEQUACY OF THE SPECIFICATIONS DUE TO THE LACK OF AN ACCURACY REQUIREMENT FOR THE COMBINATION SENSOR AND METER. TO CGS/DATAMETRICS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS DATED JANUARY 7. THE SUBJECT INVITATION WAS ISSUED ON AUGUST 25. THE MANUAL WAS REQUIRED TO INCLUDE A PARTS BREAKDOWN OF ALL COMPONENTS AND INFORMATION AS TO WHERE THE GOVERNMENT COULD PROCURE THESE PARTS. TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED BY OPENING DATE. EACH BID WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A SAMPLE OF THE BIDDER'S MANOMETER WITH SENSOR. IT IS YOUR CONTENTION THAT THIS INSTABILITY PRECLUDES THE MKS MODEL FROM MEETING THE 2 PERCENT ACCURACY SPECIFIED IN THE INVITATION ON THESE SCALES.

B-171664(1), JUN 2, 1971

BID PROTEST - SPECIFICATIONS - FULFILLMENT DENYING PROTEST OF CGS/DATAMETRICS AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO MKS INSTRUMENTS UNDER AN IFB ISSUED BY THE SAN ANTONIO AIR MATERIEL AREA, KELLY AFB, TEXAS, FOR ELECTRONIC MANOMETERS WITH SENSORS. ALTHOUGH THE MKS SAMPLE DISPLAYED INSTABILITIES OF OVER 12% ON THE HIGH SENSITIVITY SCALES IN TESTS CONDUCTED BY PROTESTANT, SPECIFICATIONS REQUIRED ONLY THE MANOMETER TO BE ACCURATE TO WITHIN 2%. IN THIS CONNECTION THE COMP. GEN. HAS ADVISED THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE THAT BEFORE PROCEEDING WITH THE AWARD, THE DEPARTMENT SHOULD DETERMINE WHETHER THERE IS ANY MERIT TO THE CONTENTION CONCERNING THE INADEQUACY OF THE SPECIFICATIONS DUE TO THE LACK OF AN ACCURACY REQUIREMENT FOR THE COMBINATION SENSOR AND METER.

TO CGS/DATAMETRICS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS DATED JANUARY 7, 1971 AND FEBRUARY 8, 1971, PROTESTING AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER FIRM UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. F41608-71-B-0076, ISSUED BY THE DIRECTORATE OF PROCUREMENT AND PRODUCTION, SAN ANTONIO AIR MATERIEL AREA, KELLY AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS.

THE SUBJECT INVITATION WAS ISSUED ON AUGUST 25, 1970, AND, AS AMENDED, CALLED FOR 141 ELECTRONIC MANOMETERS WITH SENSORS. THE INVITATION ALSO CALLED FOR THE SUBMISSION OF A BID SAMPLE ACCOMPANIED BY THE BIDDER'S OPERATION MANUAL AND THE MANUFACTURER'S ACCEPTANCE TEST PROCEDURES. THE MANUAL WAS REQUIRED TO INCLUDE A PARTS BREAKDOWN OF ALL COMPONENTS AND INFORMATION AS TO WHERE THE GOVERNMENT COULD PROCURE THESE PARTS.

TWO BIDS WERE RECEIVED BY OPENING DATE, OCTOBER 15, 1970, ONE FROM CGS/DATAMETRICS AND THE OTHER FROM MKS INSTRUMENTS (MKS). EACH BID WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A SAMPLE OF THE BIDDER'S MANOMETER WITH SENSOR. MKS FURNISHED AN OPERATION MANUAL WITH ITS BID BUT THE BIDDER DID NOT FURNISH ITS ACCEPTANCE TEST PROCEDURE AS A SEPARATE ITEM, A PARTS BREAKDOWN OR A LIST OF SOURCES OF SUPPLY.

YOUR FIRM ALLEGED CERTAIN DEFICIENCIES IN THE MODEL PROPOSED BY MKS AND REQUESTED PERMISSION TO VIEW THE BID SAMPLE AND MATERIAL SUBMITTED BY MKS. THE TESTING FACILITY (AEROSPACE GUIDANCE AND METROLOGY CENTER, AT NEWARK AIR FORCE STATION, OHIO), PROVIDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO VIEW THE SAMPLE AND OPERATION MANUAL ON NOVEMBER 10, 1970.

YOU REPORT OBSERVING THAT THE MKS SAMPLE DISPLAYED INSTABILITIES OF OVER 12 PERCENT ON THE HIGH SENSITIVITY, 0.0003 AND 0.0001 SCALES. IT IS YOUR CONTENTION THAT THIS INSTABILITY PRECLUDES THE MKS MODEL FROM MEETING THE 2 PERCENT ACCURACY SPECIFIED IN THE INVITATION ON THESE SCALES.

RELATIVE TO THE VIEWING OF THE MKS BID SAMPLE BY YOUR REPRESENTATIVES, IT IS REPORTED:

" *** ON 10 NOVEMBER 1970 TWO REPRESENTATIVES FROM CGS/DATAMETRICS, MR. HOLLIS GRAY AND MR. LEE SCHMIDLIN, VISITED OUR LABORATORY TO VIEW THE BID SAMPLE FROM MKS CORPORATION SUBMITTED AS DIRECTED BY THE IFB. *** THE VISITORS WERE ALLOWED TO PERUSE THE OPERATING MANUAL AND OBSERVE THE UNIT WHEN TURNED ON. NO FORMAL TESTS WERE MADE DURING THE VISIT.

"(1) *** IT WAS NOT OUR INTENTION TO PERFORM ANY FORMAL TESTS ON THE UNIT IN QUESTION SINCE ALL FORMAL TESTING WAS COMPLETE AT THE TIME AND OUR FORMAL DATA INDICATED BOTH BID SAMPLES MET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE IFB AND ALL OUR OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS. WE DID, AS A MATTER OF COURTESY, TURN THE MKS UNIT ON AND SHOW THAT IT WAS OPERATIONAL AND ALL ELEMENTS WERE FUNCTIONING. THE UNIT WAS OPERATED BY OUR ENGINEER. THE VACUUM MEASURED BY THE UNIT WAS GENERATED BY A MECHANICAL PUMP ONLY. THE DIFFUSION PUMP, AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE VACUUM MEASUREMENT SYSTEM, WAS NOT USED SINCE THERE WAS NO INTENT OR ATTEMPT TO SHOW THE UNIT UNDER ACTUAL TEST CONDITIONS. THERE COULD BE ABSOLUTELY NO FORMAL MEASUREMENTS TAKEN UNDER THESE CONDITIONS. ***

"(3) *** THE PURCHASE EXHIBIT LPM 298, HEADING DATAMETRICS BAROCEL TYPE 1023 ELECTRONIC MANOMETER OR EQUAL, CLEARLY SPECIFIES THE MODEL NUMBER TYPE 1023 ONLY. THIS MODEL TYPE REFERS TO THE INDICATING READOUT INSTRUMENT ONLY (WHICH CONTAINS THE INDICATING PANEL METER). THE BID SAMPLE SUBMITTED BY CGS/DATAMETRICS CLEARLY INDICATES THIS MODEL NUMBER TYPE 1023 ON THE INDICATING READOUT INSTRUMENT ONLY. AS STATED IN OUR PREVIOUS CORRESPONDENCE BOTH BID SAMPLES MET ALL PERFORMANCE PARAMETERS OF LPM 298 LISTED IN PARAGRAPHS 1 THROUGH 7 UNDER THIS HEADING. THE PERFORMANCE PARAMETERS ARE CLEARLY STATED AND NO REWRITE OF THE PURCHASE EXHIBIT WAS REQUIRED OR INTENDED IN THE REPORTING OF OUR TEST RESULTS.

THUS, THE TESTING FACILITY CHECKED THE PERFORMANCE OF THE SUBMITTED BID SAMPLES AGAINST THE PARAMETERS OF THE ITEM SPECIFICATIONS USED IN THE SOLICITATION. IDENTICAL TESTS WERE PERFORMED ON THE UNITS SUBMITTED BY BOTH BIDDERS. BOTH BID SAMPLES REPORTEDLY MET THE MINIMUM OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS, AND WERE FOUND ACCEPTABLE.

IN ADDITION, IT IS REPORTED THAT ALTHOUGH THE MANUFACTURER'S ACCEPTANCE TEST PROCEDURES WERE NOT FURNISHED WITH THE OPERATION MANUAL, THE MANUAL ITSELF WAS ADEQUATE FOR TEST PURPOSES. AS TO THE FAILURE TO SUBMIT A PARTS BREAKDOWN LISTING SOURCES FOR PARTS, AS PART OF THE OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE MANUAL, THIS SAME ITEM OF DATA WAS IDENTIFIED AS B012 ON THE DD FORM 1423, CALLING FOR THE CONTRACTOR TO FURNISH DATA ITEM V139, COMMERCIAL BREAKDOWN/PARTS LIST, WHICH MKS BID AT $200. SINCE THIS INFORMATION IS REQUIRED TO BE FURNISHED UNDER THE CONTRACT AND WAS NOT REQUIRED FOR BID EVALUATION OR IN THE DETERMINATION OF THE TECHNICAL ACCEPTABILITY OF THE OFFERED ITEM, WE PERCEIVE NO BASIS FOR OBJECTING TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CONSIDERING MKS'S FAILURE TO FURNISH THIS INFORMATION WITH ITS BID AS A MINOR INFORMALITY WAIVABLE UNDER ASPR 2- 405.

WE NOTE, AS YOU POINT OUT, THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS REQUIRE THE MANOMETER TO BE ACCURATE WITHIN OR - 2 PERCENT OF FULL SCALE. HOWEVER, WE DO NOT FIND THAT THIS ACCURACY IS SPELLED OUT FOR THE COMBINATION SENSOR AND METER. THE REQUIREMENT IN QUESTION IS ONLY LISTED IN PARAGRAPH 4 OF THE PURCHASE DESCRIPTION PERTAINING TO THE METER. IN THIS CONNECTION, WE HAVE BEEN INFORMALLY ADVISED BY THE AIR FORCE TECHNICAL PERSONNEL THAT PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE SENSOR PURCHASE DESCRIPTION, WHICH REQUIRES THAT THE SENSOR BE "PERMANENTLY SEALED VACUUM REFERENCE TO AT LEAST 1 X 10-5 TORRS OR LESS", COVERS THE ACCURACY PROBLEM OF THE SENSOR.

BASED ON THE RECORD, WE MUST CONCLUDE THAT THE LOW BID IS RESPONSIVE TO THE SOLICITATION. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST AGAINST AN AWARD TO THE LOW BIDDER MUST BE DENIED. HOWEVER, BY LETTER OF TODAY, COPY ENCLOSED, WE ARE RECOMMENDING TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE THAT BEFORE PROCEEDING WITH THE AWARD, THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE SHOULD DETERMINE WHETHER THERE IS ANY MERIT TO YOUR CONTENTION CONCERNING THE INADEQUACY OF THE SPECIFICATIONS DUE TO THE LACK OF AN ACCURACY REQUIREMENT FOR THE COMBINATION SENSOR AND METER.