A-71968, OCTOBER 23, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 404

A-71968: Oct 23, 1936

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CONTRACTS - PREPARATION OF SPECIFICATIONS AND DETERMINATION OF SUFFICIENCY OF SUPPLIES FOR GOVERNMENT NEEDS THE DRAWING OF PROPER SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE PURCHASING OF GOVERNMENT NEEDS IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENTS AND NOT OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. WHEN SUCH SPECIFICATIONS ARE DRAWN SO AS TO CONFLICT WITH APPLICABLE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS. AS FOLLOWS: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 28. PRELIMINARY ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE RECEIPT OF WHICH WAS MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT UNDER DATE OF SEPTEMBER 5. UPON WHICH THE FIRST OF YOUR TWO DECISIONS IN THE MATTER WAS PREDICATED. COMPARISON WAS DRAWN BETWEEN THE CHEVROLET STANDARD AND THE CHEVROLET MASTER MODELS.

A-71968, OCTOBER 23, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 404

CONTRACTS - PREPARATION OF SPECIFICATIONS AND DETERMINATION OF SUFFICIENCY OF SUPPLIES FOR GOVERNMENT NEEDS THE DRAWING OF PROPER SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE PURCHASING OF GOVERNMENT NEEDS IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENTS AND NOT OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, BUT WHEN SUCH SPECIFICATIONS ARE DRAWN SO AS TO CONFLICT WITH APPLICABLE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS, THEY MUST NECESSARILY BE QUESTIONED BY THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICERS. THE SUFFICIENCY OF A VEHICLE FOR GOVERNMENT NEEDS MUST BE DETERMINED UPON ITS OWN STURDINESS OR LACK OF STURDINESS, AND NOT UPON A COMPARISON WITH VEHICLES OFFERED AT HIGHER PRICES.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, OCTOBER 23, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 28, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 28, 1936 (A 71968), PRELIMINARY ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE RECEIPT OF WHICH WAS MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT UNDER DATE OF SEPTEMBER 5. IN YOUR LETTER YOU INVITE ATTENTION TO A COMMUNICATION DATED JUNE 2, 1936, ADDRESSED TO YOU BY THE GENERAL MOTORS FLEET SALES CORPORATION, CHEVROLET DIVISION, WASHINGTON, D.C., WHICH REOPENS CERTAIN QUESTIONS WHICH AROSE IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEPARTMENT'S PURCHASE, ON MARCH 2, 1936, OF 247 PASSENGER CARS UNDER ITS BID TRANSACTION U.S.D.A. 3564, WHICH PURCHASE HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE THE SUBJECT OF DECISIONS BY YOU UNDER DATE OF MARCH 31 AND APRIL 28, 1936.

IN ITS LETTER OF MARCH 10, 1936, UPON WHICH THE FIRST OF YOUR TWO DECISIONS IN THE MATTER WAS PREDICATED, THE DEPARTMENT ENDEAVORED TO EXPLAIN AND SUBSTANTIATE ITS CONTENTION FOR THE REJECTION OF THE STANDARD CHEVROLET, AND BASED ITS ARGUMENTS PRIMARILY UPON SERVICE REQUIREMENTS AND PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE. IN THIS LETTER, UNFORTUNATELY, COMPARISON WAS DRAWN BETWEEN THE CHEVROLET STANDARD AND THE CHEVROLET MASTER MODELS, WHEN SUCH COMPARISON SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONFINED TO THE CHEVROLET STANDARD MODEL AND CARS OF OTHER MAKES. IN YOUR CONSIDERATION OF THIS COMMUNICATION YOU INFORMED THE DEPARTMENT THAT NO FACTS HAD BEEN PRESENTED TO SHOW THAT THE CHEVROLET STANDARD MODEL WAS NOT AS STURDY IN CONSTRUCTION IN EVERY RESPECT AS THE FORD AND PLYMOUTH OFFERINGS. IN THE DEPARTMENT'S LETTER OF APRIL 13, WHICH WAS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 31, THE DEPARTMENT, NOT KNOWING WHAT FACTS YOU DESIRED, AND BELIEVING THAT ALL FACTS HAD BEEN PRESENTED IN ITS EARLIER REPLY, GAVE YOU A COMPARISON OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD AND THE PLYMOUTH P-1 TO SHOW THAT A REAL DIFFERENCE DID EXIST IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE TWO CARS. THE DEPARTMENT DID NOT CONTEND THAT THIS COMPARISON WAS USED IN CONNECTION WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OR IN THE MAKING OF THE AWARD; IT WAS SUBMITTED PRIMARILY TO SUSTAIN ITS ACTION PREVIOUSLY TAKEN.

THE DEPARTMENT'S LETTER OF APRIL 13 LAID PARTICULAR STRESS UPON THE FOLLOWING POINTS: THAT THE FRAME OF THE PLYMOUTH P-1, BEING OF THE X BOX CHANNEL CONSTRUCTION HAVING A DEPTH OF 5 1/2 INCHES AS AGAINST 4 1/2 INCHES OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD, AND A STOCK THICKNESS OF 7/64 INCHES AS AGAINST 3/32 INCHES OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD, WAS DEFINITELY STURDIER THAN THAT OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD; AND FURTHERMORE, THAT THE EXPERIENCE OF THE DEPARTMENT IN THE USE OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD HAS BEEN THAT, WHERE THE SAME IS USED UNDER THE SERVICE REQUIREMENTS AS STATED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS, IT BECAME NECESSARY TO RETIRE THE SAME FROM SERVICE ON ACCOUNT OF THE LIMITATION OF MAINTENANCE DURING A YEAR AS PRESCRIBED BY LAW.

FURTHER, THE DEPARTMENT'S CONTENTION HAS BEEN THAT WHEN SERVICE CONDITIONS ARE SUCH THAT THE CHEVROLET STANDARD CAN MEET THEM, IT HAS RAISED NO QUESTIONS AS TO ITS PURCHASE; BUT WHEN SERVICE CONDITIONS ARE SUCH THAT EXPERIENCE HAS DEFINITELY PROVEN THAT THE CHEVROLET STANDARD WILL NOT MEET THEM THE DEPARTMENT HAS CONSISTENTLY REFUSED TO PURCHASE EQUIPMENT WHICH CANNOT MEET ITS SERVICE REQUIREMENTS.

IT IS NOTED THAT THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GENERAL MOTORS FLEET SALES CORPORATION, CHEVROLET DIVISION, WASHINGTON, D.C., STATES THAT THE DEPARTMENT WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE THAT THE ROSS ROY ORGANIZATION WAS ENTIRELY DISINTERESTED IN THE CARS IN QUESTION. THE DEPARTMENT'S PRESENTATION OF THE COMPARISON WAS NOT MADE FOR THE PURPOSE OR WITH THE DESIRE OF MAKING YOU BELIEVE SOMETHING WHICH DID NOT EXIST, BUT WAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF SHOWING THAT THERE REALLY ARE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO CARS AND THAT SOME OF THESE DIFFERENCES MAY BE FACTORS IN ESTABLISHING WHY THE CHEVROLET STANDARD MODEL IN SERVICE DID NOT MEET THE SERVICE CONDITIONS. NOT A SINGLE ERRONEOUS STATEMENT WAS MADE IN THE DEPARTMENT'S LETTER OF APRIL 13, AND IN REFERRING TO THE LETTER OF THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GENERAL MOTORS FLEET SALES CORPORATION, IT IS NOTED THAT HE APPARENTLY ATTEMPTS TO BECLOUD THE ISSUE, AS MAY BE SEEN FROM THE FOLLOWING:

1ST. THE REPRESENTATIVE STATES "THAT THE DEPARTMENT ADMITS THAT THE MOTOR IN THE CHEVROLET IS AMPLE TO MEET ITS NEEDS.' THE DEPARTMENT HAS NOT DISCUSSED THE MASTER OR STANDARD CHEVROLET MOTOR IN ANY OF ITS CORRESPONDENCE.

2ND. IT IS STATED THAT "YOU ARE ASKED TO BELIEVE THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT QUOTED FROM THE DEPARTMENT'S LETTER,"OBVIOUSLY, THERE IS A GREAT DEAL MORE SUPPORT FROM THE X OR YK TYPE OF SUPPORTS THAN THERE IS FROM THE 3-BOX CROSS MEMBERS, AND THIS X OR YK TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION DEFINITELY SPELLS STURDINESS.'" THE FOLLOWING IS QUOTED FROM THE ROSS ROY HANDBOOK, AND IT IS PERTINENT TO NOTE THAT THE DEPARTMENT FAILS TO INCLUDE IN THEIR LETTER THIS QUOTATION: ,LENGTHENING THE BOX SECTIONS IN THE NEW FRAME HAS CONTRIBUTED GREATLY TO ITS INCREASE IN STRENGTH, BECAUSE IT IS WELL KNOWN TO ENGINEERS THAT THE BOX SECTION DESIGN PRODUCES MAXIMUM RIGIDITY.' APPARENTLY, IF THE DEPARTMENT HAD QUOTED THE ROSS ROY FULL STATEMENT, THEY WOULD HAVE STATED OUR CONTENTIONS EXACTLY. THE FRAME OF THE 1936 STANDARD CHEVROLET IS OF THE BOX-GIRDER TYPE; FRAMES OF THIS TYPE HAVE LONG BEEN KNOWN BY ENGINEERS AS THE BEST FOR AUTOMOTIVE PURPOSES, FOR BOX SECTION STRUCTURAL MEMBERS RESIST BOTH TORSION AND BENDING TO A FAR GREATER EXTENT THAN MEMBERS EMPLOYING THE SAME AMOUNT OF METAL IN ANY OTHER FORM OF SECTION. FRAMES, SIMILAR IN DESIGN, HAVE ONLY BEEN USED HERETOFORE BY FOREIGN FIRMS MANUFACTURING HIGH-PRICED CARS IN SMALL VOLUME. TWO YEARS AGO CHEVROLET ENGINEERS DETERMINED A FRAME OF THIS NATURE COULD BE MANUFACTURED IN LARGE VOLUME, AND AS A RESULT THEREOF, IT WAS ADAPTED TO THE 1936 STANDARD PASSENGER CAR. THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 700 STRUCTURAL WELDS AND 600 STRUCTURAL RIVETS IN THIS FRAME ASSEMBLY. IT IS ONE FOOT LONGER AND WIDER, BUT ONLY FIVE POUNDS HEAVIER THAN THE FRAME PREVIOUSLY USED. IT IS 12 PERCENT MORE RIGID TORSIONABLY AND 20 PERCENT MORE RIGID AS A BEAM THAN THE X-TYPE FRAME PREVIOUSLY USED IN STANDARD CARS. TO SAY THAT THE FRAME IS INFERIOR TO THAT USED IN THE PLYMOUTH P-1 IS DECIDEDLY CONTRARY TO THE FACT.'

HERE THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GENERAL MOTORS FLEET SALES CORPORATION SEEMS TO BECLOUD THE ISSUE BY HIS REFERENCE THAT THE BOX TYPE CONSTRUCTION IS ONE FOOT LONGER AND WIDER. THIS REFERS DISTINCTLY TO SIDE RAILS. SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE DEPARTMENT HAS NOT STATED THAT THE BOX TYPE SIDE RAIL CONSTRUCTION IS INFERIOR FOR IT IS A WELL KNOWN FACT THAT PRACTICALLY EVERY AUTOMOBILE TODAY HAS BOX TYPE SIDE RAILS, BUT ITS CONTENTION WAS PRIMARILY CONFINED TO THE X OR YK TYPE CROSS MEMBERS. THE DEPARTMENT'S CONTENTION IS BELIEVED TO BE CORRECT, FOR THE REASON THAT THE GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, IN ITS LITERATURE COVERING THE PONTIAC, OLDSMOBILE, BUICK, ETC., EMPLOYING THE X OR YK TYPES, USES THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT: "THIS PROVIDES 25 PERCENT MORE RIGIDITY, RESULTING IN INCREASED STABILITY, QUIETNESS, AND DEPENDABILITY.' THE DEPARTMENT, IN CONCURRING WITH THE FOREGOING QUOTATION, HOWEVER, WISHES TO STATE THAT IT IS ALSO A FUNCTION OF THE CROSS MEMBERS TO RESIST STRESSES IN THE FRAME ASSEMBLY, AND THIS HAS BEEN PROVEN DEFINITELY TO BE SO WHEN THE CARS ARE OPERATED UNDER THE SERVICE CONDITIONS SPECIFIED.

IF THE CONTENTION OF THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GENERAL MOTORS FLEET SALES CORPORATION IS CORRECT, THE DEPARTMENT IS SOMEWHAT AT A LOSS TO UNDERSTAND WHY THE SAME TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION IS NOT USED BY THE CHEVROLET MOTOR COMPANY IN THE PRODUCTION OF ITS MASTER MODEL, WHICH SELLS AT A HIGHER PRICE. THE SAME ARGUMENT WOULD APPLY AS TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PONTIAC, OLDSMOBILE, BUICK, ETC.; IT SURELY MAY BE ASSUMED THAT THE ENGINEERS OF THESE COMPANIES CANNOT BE WRONG. HAD THIS DEPARTMENT DESIRED TO QUOTE ROSS ROY IN DETAIL IT WOULD HAVE INCLUDED IN ITS STATEMENT THE FOLLOWING QUOTATION:

"IT IS, OF COURSE, THE FUNCTION OF THE X MEMBERS TO RESIST TWISTING STRESSES, AND THIS IMPROVEMENT IN THE CENTER SECTION HAS THE EFFECT OF STIFFENING THE ENTIRE FRAME.'

SINCE THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GENERAL MOTORS FLEET SALES CORPORATION QUOTED TO YOU CERTAIN STATEMENTS MADE BY ROSS ROY IN ORDER TO PROVE HIS POINT THAT THIS DEPARTMENT WAS TRYING TO MISLEAD YOU, IT IS INTERESTING AND SIGNIFICANT TO NOTE THAT HE DID NOT INCLUDE THE FOREGOING QUOTATION. THE REASON, OF COURSE, IS THAT IF HE HAD, HIS ENTIRE ARGUMENT WOULD HAVE FAILED TO SUPPORT HIS CONTENTION.

3RD. THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION ALSO DISCUSSES THE BODY OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD IN DETAIL, AND STATES THAT IT IS AN ALL STEEL BODY AND SUPERIOR FROM A SAFETY STANDPOINT TO THAT OF THE PLYMOUTH. IN ITS LETTER OF APRIL 13 THE DEPARTMENT MERELY SHOWED THAT THE PLYMOUTH BODY WAS OF THE SAFETY STEEL TYPE AND THAT THAT OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD WAS COMPOSITE. THE DEPARTMENT FEELS THAT THE STATEMENT AS MADE BY THE GENERAL MOTORS FLEET SALES REPRESENTATIVE HAS REFERENCE TO THE TURRET TOP AND THAT THE PHRASE "SOLID STEEL TURRET TOP BODY," IN GENERAL, CONVEYS THE IMPRESSION THAT THE BODY IS SOLID STEEL. IT CAN BE AMPLY PROVEN BY LITERATURE READILY OBTAINABLE, OR BY AN INSPECTION OF THE CAR ITSELF, THAT WHILE THE CHEVROLET STANDARD HAS A TURRET STEEL TOP IT USES A WOOD FRAMEWORK THROUGHOUT THE SIDES OF THE DOORS AND REAR QUARTER SECTION AND THAT THERE IS APPROXIMATELY 150 POUNDS OF WOOD USED FOR REINFORCEMENT IN THE CHEVROLET STANDARD SEDAN. THE PLYMOUTH P-1 USES A STEEL FLOOR CONSTRUCTION.

4TH. IT IS NOTED THAT THE STATEMENT IS MADE THAT THE PLYMOUTH FINDS IT NECESSARY TO USE DOUBLE ACTION SHOCK ABSORBERS. THIS STATEMENT IS ERRONEOUS; AS THE SHOCK ABSORBERS FURNISHED TO THE DEPARTMENT ON PLYMOUTH P-1 MODELS HAVE ALL BEEN SINGLE ACTION.

THE ENGINEERS OF THE DEPARTMENT HAVE ALWAYS ENDEAVORED, IN THE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS FOR AUTOMOTIVE EQUIPMENT, TO SET FORTH FULLY THE SERVICE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH THE EQUIPMENT IS TO BE USED, AND THE MECHANICAL DETAILS WHICH, IN THE OPINION OF THE DEPARTMENT, MUST BE REFLECTED IN ANY EQUIPMENT RESPONSIVE TO PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS. IN THIS CONNECTION, HOWEVER, DUE CONSIDERATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN GIVEN TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF RS 3709 AS TO PROPER COMPETITION. IT IS NOTED, HOWEVER, THAT THE DECISIONS OF YOUR OFFICE FOR SOME TIME PAST IMPOSE VARIOUS RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE, IN SPECIFICATIONS, OF MECHANICAL DETAILS. THESE RESTRICTIONS HAVE LEFT THE DEPARTMENT SOMEWHAT AT A LOSS TO KNOW HOW TO MEET ITS SPECIAL NEEDS FOR AUTOMOTIVE EQUIPMENT AS THEY ARISE WITHOUT LIMITING ITS SPECIFICATION TO A SERVICE REQUIREMENT FOLLOWED BY AN ENUMERATION OF MODELS AND DESIGNS WHICH THE DEPARTMENT WILL NOT ACCEPT AS RESPONSIVE TO SUCH SERVICE REQUIREMENTS. OBVIOUSLY, THIS WOULD BE A MOST UNSATISFACTORY METHOD OF ADVERTISING, AND IT IS NOT BELIEVED THAT IT WOULD HAVE THE SANCTION OF YOUR OFFICE. IN VIEW OF THE DEPARTMENT'S PRESENT PERPLEXITY, A GENERAL STATEMENT OF YOUR THOUGHT AS TO WHAT WOULD CONSTITUTE AN EFFECTIVE AND PROPER SPECIFICATION WOULD BE APPRECIATED. IN THIS CONNECTION THE DEPARTMENT WOULD URGE YOUR CONSIDERATION OF THE FACT THAT THE DEPARTMENT'S EQUIPMENT IS BEING PURCHASED ALWAYS FOR DEFINITE AND PARTICULAR SERVICE, AND THAT IT IS IN THE BEST POSITION TO JUDGE AS TO WHAT EQUIPMENT WILL GIVE SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE AND WHAT EQUIPMENT WILL NOT, PARTICULARLY IN VIEW OF EXISTING LAW WHICH LIMITS ANNUAL EXPENDITURES FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF AUTOMOTIVE EQUIPMENT.

THE DECISION OF AUGUST 28, 1936, TO WHICH YOU REFER, WAS NOT A REOPENING OF THE MATTER CONSIDERED IN THE TWO PREVIOUS DECISIONS. SUBSEQUENT TO THE LATTER OF THOSE DECISIONS, THERE WAS BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THIS OFFICE THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT LEADING TO THE DECISION RESTED UPON PARTISAN ADVERTISING MATTER OF A PARTICULAR MANUFACTURER. THE FACT WAS BROUGHT TO YOUR ATTENTION BY THE DECISION OF AUGUST 28 IN THE HOPE, AS STATED THEREIN, THAT ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION MIGHT BE TAKEN TO SEE THAT REPORTS FURNISHED THIS OFFICE SHOULD BE BASED UPON A FULL DISCLOSURE OF THE FACTS, OBTAINED FROM IMPARTIAL SOURCES. ALSO, THERE APPEARED A POSSIBILITY THAT THE DECISION OF APRIL 28, 1936, MIGHT HAVE BEEN MISINTERPRETED BY YOUR DEPARTMENT, AND IT WAS DEEMED PROPER TO MAKE PLAIN THE FACT THAT SAID DECISION DID NOT REVERSE OR MODIFY THE DECISION OF MARCH 31, 1936, EXCEPT AS TO THE USE OF APPROPRIATED MONEYS FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE PARTICULAR CONTRACT.

YOUR PRESENT LETTER APPEARS TO BE CONCERNED, FOR THE MOST PART, WITH AN ARRAIGNMENT OF THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, AND YOU POINT OUT SEVERAL STATEMENTS APPEARING IN HIS LETTER OF JUNE 2, 1936, AS INACCURACIES, MISSTATEMENTS, AND EFFORTS "TO BECLOUD THE SUE," SUCH STATEMENTS HAVING REFERENCE TO THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE MOTOR, LENGTH OF FRAME, AND TYPE OF BODY CONSTRUCTION OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD AUTOMOBILE, AND THE TYPE OF SHOCK ABSORBERS USED BY THE PLYMOUTH. IT WAS STATED IN MY DECISION OF AUGUST 28 THAT NEITHER THE ADVERTISING MATTER OF THE PLYMOUTH MOTOR CORPORATION NOR THAT OF THE CHEVROLET CORPORATION WAS FOR ACCEPTANCE WITHOUT QUESTION AS DETERMINING THE SUFFICIENCY OF ONE AUTOMOBILE FOR THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT, AS COMPARED WITH OTHERS; AND IF IN FACT THERE WERE INACCURACIES, ETC., IN THE SALES TALK OF ONE SALESMAN OR THE OTHER, THEY WOULD NOT BE OF VITAL IMPORTANCE. THIS OFFICE IS NOT CONCERNED WITH THE CONFLICTING CLAIMS OF RIVAL MANUFACTURERS OF MOTOR VEHICLES, OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF EQUIPMENT, ITS SOLE CONCERN AND RESPONSIBILITY IN SUCH MATTERS BEING DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER EXPENDITURES OF APPROPRIATED MONEYS ARE IN ACCORDANCE WITH STATUTORY PROVISIONS AND RECOGNIZED PRINCIPLES GOVERNING SUCH EXPENDITURES. WHETHER THE PLYMOUTH P-1 OR THE CHEVROLET STANDARD (THE VEHICLES UNDER DISCUSSION) IS THE SUPERIOR AUTOMOBILE IS NOT OF MOMENT IN SUCH CONNECTION, EXCEPT INSOFAR AS SOME IMAGINED OR ACTUAL SUPERIORITY OF THE ONE MAKE OF AUTOMOBILE OVER THE OTHER MAY IMPROPERLY BE MADE THE BASIS OF EXCLUDING ONE FROM COMPETITION IN FAVOR OF THE OTHER, OR REJECTING AN OTHERWISE ACCEPTABLE LOW BID.

IN BRIEF REPLY TO THE MATTERS YOU DISCUSS IN CONNECTION WITH THE LETTER OF THE GENERAL MOTORS FLEET SALES CORPORATION, IT MAY BE SUGGESTED THAT WHILE THE DEPARTMENT "HAS NOT DISCUSSED THE MASTER OR STANDARD CHEVROLET MOTOR IN ANY CORRESPONDENCE," THE DEPARTMENT STATED WITHOUT QUALIFICATION IN ITS LETTER OF MARCH 10, 1936, AND AGAIN IN ITS LETTER OF APRIL 13, THAT THE CHEVROLET MASTER AUTOMOBILE MET THE SPECIFICATIONS IN EVERY RESPECT. SINCE THE MANUFACTURERS STATE THAT THE ENGINE USED IN THE STANDARD MODEL CHEVROLET IS IDENTICAL WITH THAT USED IN THE MASTER, IT WOULD APPEAR TO BE A NECESSARY CONCLUSION THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ADMITTED THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE CHEVROLET MOTOR.

THE STATEMENT RELATIVE TO THE FRAME CONSTRUCTION OF THE CHEVROLET STANDARD, WHICH YOU QUESTION AS AN EFFORT "TO BECLOUD THE ISSUE," APPEARS TO HAVE REFERENCE TO THE ENTIRE FRAME OF THE 1936 STANDARD MODEL CHEVROLET AND DOES NOT APPEAR MISLEADING OR INTENDED TO BE SO. IN CONNECTION WITH THE DIFFERENCE IN FRAME CONSTRUCTION OF THE TWO AUTOMOBILES, UPON WHICH THE DEPARTMENT HAS LAID STRESS, CONTENDING THAT THE X OR YK TYPE SAID TO BE USED BY THE PLYMOUTH IS STURDIER THAN THE ,BOX SECTION" FRAME CONSTRUCTION USED IN THE CHEVROLET STANDARD, IT MAY

"BE POINTED" OUT THAT "MOTOR" MAGAZINE, IN DESCRIBING THE 1936 MODEL OF CHEVROLET STANDARD, STATES THAT THIS TYPE OF FRAME CONSTRUCTION IS USED FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THAT MODEL, AND THAT IT ,IS NEW IN THIS COUNTRY.' THE STATEMENT APPEARS IN DESCRIPTIVE AND NOT ADVERTISING LITERATURE OF THE MAGAZINE. IF IT IS CORRECT, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE VIEW AS TO THE RELATIVE STURDINESS OF CONSTRUCTION OF THE TWO TYPES OF FRAME IS A MATTER OF SURMISE OR OPINION, WITHOUT EXPERIENCE TO BACK IT OR ENGINEERING FACTS TO SUPPORT IT.

EVEN IF IT SHOULD BE CONCEDED THAT THE X OR YK TYPE OF FRAME CONSTRUCTION HAS SOME MEASURE OF SUPERIORITY AS TO STURDINESS, THE FACT IS BESIDE THE POINT. AS IN THE CASE OF THE BODY CONSTRUCTION, THE MATTER FOR DETERMINATION IS WHETHER OR NOT THE BOX SECTION TYPE OF FRAME IS INHERENTLY SO LACKING IN STURDINESS AND DEPENDABILITY AS TO RENDER THE VEHICLE IT SUPPORTS INADEQUATE FOR THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND THERE HAS BEEN NO SHOWING HERE TO THAT EFFECT.

WHETHER THE CHEVROLET STANDARD BODY IS ALL STEEL OR OF COMPOSITE CONSTRUCTION, WITH ALL STEEL TURRET TOP, WOULD APPEAR TO BE A MATTER OF MINOR IMPORTANCE. BOTH TYPES OF BODY CONSTRUCTION--- ALL STEEL AND COMPOSITE--- ARE RECOGNIZED AND USED IN THE INDUSTRY, AND POSSIBLY EACH HAS ITS ADVANTAGES. REFERENCE TO "MOTOR" MAGAZINE DISCLOSES THAT THE COMPOSITE TYPE OF BODY IS USED NOT ONLY ON THE CHEVROLET BUT ON SOME OF THE MORE EXPENSIVE MAKES OF AUTOMOBILES. FOR INSTANCE, IT APPEARS THAT THE FORD MOTOR CO. USES STEEL BODIES ON FORD AUTOMOBILES, WHILE THE BODIES ON THE LINCOLN LINE, ITS HIGHER-PRICED VEHICLES, ARE OF THE COMPOSITE TYPE. OTHER AUTOMOBILES USING THE COMPOSITE BODY INCLUDE THE BUICK, LA SALLE, PACKARD, AND PIERCE ARROW. HOWEVER, THE QUESTION IS NOT WHETHER THE ALL-STEEL BODY IS SUPERIOR TO THE COMPOSITE, BUT WHETHER THE COMPOSITE BODY IS ADEQUATE FOR THE NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT, OR IS, BY REASON OF ITS OWN WEAKNESS AND INFERIORITY OF MATERIAL AND CONSTRUCTION, WITHIN ITSELF, INADEQUATE FOR SUCH NEEDS.

IT IS NOT A MATTER OF CONCERN HERE WHETHER THE PLYMOUTH AUTOMOBILE "NEEDS DOUBLE-ACTION SHOCK ABSORBERS," AS STATED IN THE LETTER OF THE GENERAL MOTORS REPRESENTATIVE, OR USES SINGLE-ACTION SHOCK ABSORBERS, AS STATED BY YOU. THERE HAS BEEN NO CLAIM THAT THE SHOCK ABSORBERS ON EITHER CAR ARE INADEQUATE FOR THEIR PURPOSE OR INFERIOR TO THOSE USED ON THE OTHER VEHICLE.

THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NOTHING IN THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE TO CONTRIBUTE IN ANY MEASURE TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE "PERPLEXITY" WHICH YOUR LETTER PROFESSES. THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3709, REVISED STATUTES, CONTEMPLATE AND REQUIRE THAT IN THE ACQUISITION OF ARTICLES AND EQUIPMENT FOR GOVERNMENT USES THERE SHALL BE OPPORTUNITY FOR FULL AND OPEN COMPETITION AMONG ALL QUALIFIED PERSONS, AND THAT NECESSARY EQUIPMENT BE PURCHASED AT THE MOST REASONABLE PRICE OBTAINABLE, CONSISTENT WITH THE ACTUAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE SERVICE TO BE PERFORMED. FOLLOWING THE PLAIN INTENT OF THE STATUTE, THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE ARE, IN EFFECT, THAT NO ARBITRARY SPECIFICATION AS TO WEIGHT, WHEEL BASE, OR OTHER LIMITING FACTOR, WHETHER IT BE MECHANICAL OR SUPERFICIAL, LEGALLY MAY BE USED AS A MEANS OF EXCLUDING OR UNDULY LIMITING COMPETITION, THUS EVADING AND DEFEATING THE PURPOSE OF THE STATUTE. THE DECISIONS HAVE HELD THAT THE SUFFICIENCY OF A VEHICLE FOR GOVERNMENT NEEDS MUST BE DETERMINED UPON ITS OWN STURDINESS OR LACK OF STURDINESS, AND NOT UPON A COMPARISON WITH VEHICLES OFFERED AT HIGHER PRICES. SO FAR AS CONCERNS PASSENGER-CARRYING VEHICLES, THE $750 PRICE LIMITATION FIXED BY THE STATUTES IS THE MAXIMUM PRICE WHICH MAY BE EXPENDED IN ANY EVENT, WHERE THOSE STATUTES ARE APPLICABLE, AND IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT THE STATUTES DO NOT AUTHORIZE THE EXPENDITURE OF THAT OR APPROXIMATELY THAT AMOUNT FOR VEHICLES WHEN AUTOMOBILES SUBSTANTIALLY LOWER IN PRICE WILL ADEQUATELY PERFORM THE REQUIRED SERVICE; THAT WHERE THERE IS SHOWN AN ACTUAL NEED OF VEHICLES SOMEWHAT STURDIER IN CONSTRUCTION THAN THOSE IN THE RECOGNIZED LIGHT- WEIGHT CLASS, APPROXIMATE WEIGHT OF 3,100 POUNDS, AND AN APPROXIMATE WHEEL BASE LENGTH, WITHIN REASONABLE LIMITS, MAY BE MENTIONED IN SPECIFICATIONS TO INDICATE SUCH NEED, SUBJECT TO THE PROVISO THAT A REASONABLE DEFICIENCY IN EITHER OR BOTH AFFORDS NO LEGAL GROUND FOR REJECTION OF A LOW BID; AND THAT IN NO CASE MAY SPECIFICATIONS BE DRAWN FOR THE PURPOSE OF GIVING EFFECT TO ADMINISTRATIVE PREFERENCE OR PREJUDICE AT THE EXPENSE OF EITHER THE GOVERNMENT OR AN OTHERWISE ACCEPTABLE ASPIRANT FOR GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. 16 COMP. GEN. 38. WHEN SPECIFICATIONS ARE PREPARED AND APPLIED IN CONFORMITY WITH THE PRINCIPLES THUS STATED, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS ARE MET, THAT THERE WOULD BE NO GROUND FOR PROTEST BY BIDDERS, AND NO NECESSITY FOR QUESTION BY THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT.

THAT THE RULES STATED WERE NOT APPLIED IN THE PRESENT INSTANCE IS MANIFEST. THAT A HEAVIER CAR WAS NOT REQUIRED IS SHOWN CONCLUSIVELY BY THE FACT THAT THE LIGHTEST OF THE LIGHT-WEIGHT CARS OFFERED WAS PURCHASED. TO CONTEND THAT THE CHEVROLET STANDARD AUTOMOBILE IS NOT IN THE RECOGNIZED COMPETITIVE CLASS WITH THE PLYMOUTH P-1 WOULD BE TO IGNORE WHAT IS RECOGNIZED, EMPHASIZED, AND DAILY ADVERTISED BY THE MANUFACTURERS OF BOTH VEHICLES. NEVERTHELESS, DESPITE NUMEROUS DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE TO THE CONTRARY, THE MINIMUM WHEEL-BASE REQUIREMENT OF 111 INCHES WAS USED FOR THE ADMITTED PURPOSE OF EXCLUDING THE CHEVROLET STANDARD MODEL FROM COMPETITION AND AS A GROUND FOR REJECTION OF THE LOW BID OFFERING THAT CAR --- AT A SUBSTANTIAL EXCESS COST TO THE GOVERNMENT.

IT IS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THIS OFFICE TO PREPARE OR SUGGEST "WHAT WOULD CONSTITUTE AN EFFECTIVE AND PROPER SPECIFICATION.' THAT RESPONSIBILITY RESTS UPON THE ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED. STATED IN MY DECISION TO YOU OF JULY 18, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 38, WHEN SPECIFICATIONS ARE DRAWN AND USED IN COMPLIANCE WITH STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS, NO QUESTION NEED BE RAISED HERE. ON THE OTHER HAND, WHEN SUCH SPECIFICATIONS ARE DRAWN SO AS TO CONFLICT WITH STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS--- WHETHER INTENTIONALLY OR NOT--- THEY NECESSARILY MUST BE QUESTIONED IN THIS OFFICE.