B-76506, MAY 25, 1948, 27 COMP. GEN. 728

B-76506: May 25, 1948

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WHEREIN IT WAS HELD. WHILE THREE BIDS WERE RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION FOR BIDS FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING SERVICES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1948. THE LOW BID FOR THE SERVICES REQUIRED WAS FOR DETERMINATION BY A COMPARISON OF THE BIDS OF THE FEDERAL REPORTING COMPANY AND THE ALDERSON REPORTING COMPANY. OUTSIDE THE CITY IN THE INSTANCES WHERE THE SALE OF COPIES THEREOF TO THE PUBLIC WAS PERMITTED. WAS LOWER THAN THE BID OF THE FEDERAL REPORTING COMPANY FOR THE SAME SERVICES. THE BID OF THE FEDERAL REPORTING COMPANY WAS CONSIDERABLY LOWER THAN THE BID OF THE ALDERSON REPORTING COMPANY AS TO COPIES TO BE FURNISHED THE BOARD OF TRANSCRIPTS OF HEARINGS HELD BOTH AT WASHINGTON AND OUTSIDE THAT CITY IN THE INSTANCES WHERE THE SALE OF COPIES TO THE PUBLIC WAS NOT PERMITTED.

B-76506, MAY 25, 1948, 27 COMP. GEN. 728

CONTRACTS - STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING SERVICES - MAXIMUM PRICES FOR COPIES FURNISHED GENERAL PUBLIC THE PRICES CHARGED THE GENERAL PUBLIC FOR COPIES OF TRANSCRIPTS OF HEARINGS BEFORE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND COMMISSIONS BEING PROPERLY FOR CONSIDERATION IN THE LETTING OF GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING SERVICES, INVITATIONS TO BID FOR THE FURNISHING OF SUCH SERVICES MAY INCLUDE A STIPULATION AS TO THE MAXIMUM PRICES--- ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED AS THE MAXIMUM REASONABLE PRICES--- TO BE CHARGED THE PUBLIC FOR COPIES OF TRANSCRIPTS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL FISHER TO THE CHAIRMAN, APPEAL BOARD, OFFICE OF CONTRACT SETTLEMENT, MAY 25, 1948:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER DATED MAY 18, 1948, RELATIVE TO OFFICE DECISION OF JUNE 13, 1947, B-66859, WHEREIN IT WAS HELD, FOR THE REASONS FULLY STATED HEREIN, THAT AWARD OF CONTRACT BY YOUR OFFICE FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING SERVICES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1948 PROPERLY MIGHT BE MADE TO THE FEDERAL REPORTING COMPANY.

IT APPEARS THAT, WHILE THREE BIDS WERE RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION FOR BIDS FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING SERVICES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1948, THE LOW BID FOR THE SERVICES REQUIRED WAS FOR DETERMINATION BY A COMPARISON OF THE BIDS OF THE FEDERAL REPORTING COMPANY AND THE ALDERSON REPORTING COMPANY. THE BID OF THE ALDERSON REPORTING COMPANY AS TO COPIES TO BE FURNISHED TO THE APPEAL BOARD OF YOUR OFFICE OF TRANSCRIPTS OF HEARINGS HELD BOTH AT WASHINGTON, D.C., AND OUTSIDE THE CITY IN THE INSTANCES WHERE THE SALE OF COPIES THEREOF TO THE PUBLIC WAS PERMITTED, WAS LOWER THAN THE BID OF THE FEDERAL REPORTING COMPANY FOR THE SAME SERVICES. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE BID OF THE FEDERAL REPORTING COMPANY WAS CONSIDERABLY LOWER THAN THE BID OF THE ALDERSON REPORTING COMPANY AS TO COPIES TO BE FURNISHED THE BOARD OF TRANSCRIPTS OF HEARINGS HELD BOTH AT WASHINGTON AND OUTSIDE THAT CITY IN THE INSTANCES WHERE THE SALE OF COPIES TO THE PUBLIC WAS NOT PERMITTED; AS TO ADDITIONAL COPIES TO BE FURNISHED THE BOARD OR OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES; AND AS TO THE DAILY COPIES TO BE DELIVERED WHEN REQUIRED. AFTER POINTING OUT THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF A DETERMINATION THAT THE PRICES TO BE CHARGED THE PUBLIC FOR COPIES OF TRANSCRIPTS, ETC., OF APPLICABLE HEARINGS HELD BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND COMMISSIONS WERE EXORBITANT--- IN WHICH EVENT SOUND PRACTICE WOULD REQUIRE THE REJECTION OF ALL BIDS AND THE REISSUANCE OF INVITATIONS TO BID--- NO PROPER BASIS EXISTED FOR THE EVALUATION OF BIDS ON ANY BASIS OTHER THAN ON AN OVERALL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT, IT WAS HELD ON THE BASIS OF THE DETERMINATION INDICATED IN LETTER FROM YOUR OFFICE DATED JUNE 6, 1947, THAT AWARD OF THE CONTRACT PROPERLY SHOULD BE MADE TO THE FEDERAL REPORTING COMPANY.

IN THE LETTER OF MAY 8, SUPRA, IT IS STATED THAT:

THE APPEAL BOARD DESIRES TO GUARD AGAINST THE POSSIBILITY OF UNDUE INCREASE OF THE COST OF TRANSCRIPTS TO THE PUBLIC. WHEN THE PRICE IS HIGH, LITIGANTS ARE LIKELY TO FEEL THAT THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO PURCHASE COPIES OF THE TESTIMONY WITH THE RESULT THAT BRIEFS SUBMITTED TO THE BOARD ARE BASED ON RECOLLECTION AND, OF COURSE, HAVE NO PAGE REFERENCES TO THE TRANSCRIPT. THIS RETARDS THE WORK OF THE BOARD AND OPENS THE DOOR FOR POSSIBLE MISCARRIAGES OF JUSTICE DUE TO THE DIFFICULTY OF GRASPING THE POSITION OF THE LITIGANT. HIGH PRICES TO THE PUBLIC, THEREFORE, INVOLVE DISADVANTAGES BOTH FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE PUBLIC AND OF THE LITIGANT, WHICH MAY OUTWEIGH ANY ADVANTAGE TO THE PUBLIC BASED UPON LOW PRICES TO THE GOVERNMENT.

I AM ADVISED THAT THIS PROBLEM HAS BEEN MET BY THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION AND THE TAX COURT, AMONG OTHER AGENCIES, BY INCLUDING IN THE INVITATIONS TO BID MAXIMUM LIMITATIONS ON THE PRICE TO BE CHARGED TO THE PUBLIC. IT IS OUR PURPOSE TO PRESCRIBE SUCH A LIMITATION IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1949. IT IS YOUR VIEW THAT WE MAY PROPERLY DO SO?

WE PROPOSE TO PLACE A LIMITATION OF FORTY-FIVE CENTS A PAGE PER COPY UPON THE PRICE TO BE CHARGED TO THE PUBLIC FOR THE ORDINARY REPORTING SERVICE WHERE DAILY COPY DELIVERY IS NOT ORDERED. THAT IS THE PRICE UNDER THE PRESENT CONTRACT.

IN ORDER THAT OUR QUESTION MAY BE PERFECTLY INTELLIGIBLE, I AM ENCLOSING A COPY OF LAST YEAR'S INVITATION FOR BIDS BEARING A NOTATION OF THE PROPOSED CHANGE TO BE MADE THIS YEAR FOR THE PURPOSE OF LIMITING THE COST TO THE PUBLIC, TOGETHER WITH A COPY OF THE PROPOSED BID FORM.

IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT, TO THE EXTENT FOUND NECESSARY TO INSURE THAT THE PRICES AT WHICH COPIES OF TRANSCRIPTS OF HEARINGS BEFORE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND COMMISSIONS MAY BE PROCURED BY THE PUBLIC ARE NOW EXORBITANT, SUCH PRICES PROPERLY ARE FOR CONSIDERATION IN THE LETTING OF GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS FOR STENOGRAPHIC REPORTING SERVICES AND THAT, TO THAT END, MAXIMUM PRICES FOR SUCH SERVICES PROPERLY MAY BE STIPULATED IN INVITATIONS FOR BIDS. 7 COMP. GEN. 810; 18 ID. 967. IT IS ASSUMED THAT THE MAXIMUM PRICE OF 45 CENTS PER PAGE, PROPOSED TO BE STIPULATED IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS IN THE PRESENT CASE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1949, WAS ARRIVED AT ON THE BASIS OF A DETERMINATION BY YOUR OFFICE THAT A CHARGE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC FOR COPIES OF SUCH TRANSCRIPTS IN EXCESS OF SUCH PRICE WOULD BE UNREASONABLE.

ACCORDINGLY, THE PROPOSED LIMITATION OF 45 CENTS PER PAGE WOULD NOT APPEAR TO BE OBJECTIONABLE.