B-6226, OCTOBER 5, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 422

B-6226: Oct 5, 1939

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SIGNATURES - LEAD PENCIL - GOVERNMENT BIDS AND CONTRACTS WHILE THE USE OF LEAD PENCIL IN SIGNING GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS IS NOT PROHIBITED BY LAW. THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO THE INCLUSION IN INVITATIONS FOR BIDS OF A DIRECTORY. READING AS FOLLOWS: "REFERENCE IS MADE TO CONTRACT NUMBERED VA30R-1853. "IT IS NOTED THAT THE CONTRACT HAS BEEN SIGNED IN LEAD PENCIL BY THE CONTRACTOR. "IT HAS BEEN HELD BY THIS OFFICE THAT THERE IS A VERY PRACTICAL OBJECTION TO LEAD-PENCIL SIGNING OF OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS IN THAT IN THE HANDLING THEREOF THE SIGNATURE AND DATA MAY BECOME SO INDISTINCT AS TO BE ILLEGIBLE. THAT LEAD-PENCIL SIGNATURES SHOULD NOT BE ACCEPTED EXCEPT IN THOSE RARE CASES WHERE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SECURE THE REQUIRED SIGNATURES BY PEN AND INK.

B-6226, OCTOBER 5, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 422

SIGNATURES - LEAD PENCIL - GOVERNMENT BIDS AND CONTRACTS WHILE THE USE OF LEAD PENCIL IN SIGNING GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS IS NOT PROHIBITED BY LAW, SUCH USE SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED, AND THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO THE INCLUSION IN INVITATIONS FOR BIDS OF A DIRECTORY--- RATHER THAN MANDATORY--- PROVISION THAT SIGNATURES BE IN INK OR INDELIBLE PENCIL, BUT AN OTHERWISE ACCEPTABLE LOW BID MAY NOT BE REJECTED BECAUSE SIGNED WITH A LEAD PENCIL.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, OCTOBER 5, 1939:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 25, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION HAS RECEIVED A COMMUNICATION FROM THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, DATED JULY 18, 1939, OVER THE SIGNATURE OF MR. CARNEGIE YORK, OF THE CONTRACT EXAMINING SECTION, READING AS FOLLOWS:

"REFERENCE IS MADE TO CONTRACT NUMBERED VA30R-1853, DATED MARCH 21, 1939, WITH ARMOUR AND COMPANY, MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, COVERING THE PURCHASE OF CHEESE FOR THE FACILITY AT WOOD, WISCONSIN.

"IT IS NOTED THAT THE CONTRACT HAS BEEN SIGNED IN LEAD PENCIL BY THE CONTRACTOR.

"IT HAS BEEN HELD BY THIS OFFICE THAT THERE IS A VERY PRACTICAL OBJECTION TO LEAD-PENCIL SIGNING OF OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS IN THAT IN THE HANDLING THEREOF THE SIGNATURE AND DATA MAY BECOME SO INDISTINCT AS TO BE ILLEGIBLE, AND THAT LEAD-PENCIL SIGNATURES SHOULD NOT BE ACCEPTED EXCEPT IN THOSE RARE CASES WHERE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SECURE THE REQUIRED SIGNATURES BY PEN AND INK. IN THIS CONNECTION, SEE A-62421, DATED SEPTEMBER 20, 1935, AND A-80426, DATED SEPTEMBER 17, 1936.'

THE RESPONSE OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION, DATED AUGUST 2, 1939, TO THE ABOVE COMMUNICATION EXPLAINED THE PROCEDURE BEING FOLLOWED WITH RESPECT TO BIDS SIGNED IN PENCIL. STANDARD FORM NO. 22," STANDARD GOVERNMENT INSTRUCTIONS TO BIDDERS," APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT UNDER DATE OF NOVEMBER 19, 1926, IS SILENT WITH RESPECT TO THE MANNER IN WHICH BIDS SHALL BE SIGNED.

IF LEAD-PENCIL SIGNATURES ARE OBJECTIONABLE IT IS THE OPINION OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION THAT BID INVITATIONS SHOULD HAVE INCORPORATED THEREIN AN INSTRUCTION THAT SIGNATURES MUST BE IN INK OR INDELIBLE PENCIL, THUS PUTTING ALL BIDDERS DEFINITELY ON NOTICE AS TO THE KIND OF SIGNATURE REQUIRED. IF YOU CONCUR IN THIS OPINION SUCH AN INSTRUCTION WILL BE INCLUDED IN BID INVITATIONS, BUT IT IS REQUESTED THAT YOU ADVISE WHAT DISPOSITION SHOULD BE MADE OF BIDS BEARING LEAD-PENCIL SIGNATURE, ALTHOUGH OTHERWISE ACCEPTABLE.

WHILE THE USE OF A PENCIL IN SIGNING GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS IS NOT PROHIBITED BY LAW, FOR REASONS WHICH ARE APPARENT SUCH USE SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED. THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO OBJECTION TO THE PROCEDURE SUGGESTED IN THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER, SUPRA, EXCEPT THAT THE REQUIREMENT OF SIGNATURES IN INK OR INDELIBLE PENCIL SHOULD BE DIRECTORY RATHER THAN MANDATORY. AN OTHERWISE ACCEPTABLE LOW BID MAY NOT BE REJECTED BECAUSE SIGNED WITH A LEAD PENCIL.