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ALTHOUGH ALL WERE KNOWN. READVERTISEMENT OF THE PROCUREMENT IS JUSTIFIED. WE HAVE RECEIVED REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE DATED JULY 15 AND 24. THE REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE ARE RESPONSIVE TO PROTESTS AND BRIEFS FROM E. WHICH WAS THE SECOND STEP OF A COMPETITIVELY ADVERTISED PROCUREMENT FOR M-21 ARRESTING GEAR SYSTEMS AND RELATED PARTS. THESE PARTICULAR SYSTEMS WERE INITIALLY DEVELOPED BY VORTEC IN CONJUNCTION WITH NAEL. THEY ARE TO BE USED ON SHORT AIRFIELDS BEING DEVELOPED UNDER THE SATS PROGRAM. WITH EACH ABSORBER CARRYING AN OPERATIONAL OR OPERATING REEL ASSEMBLY ON WHICH NYLON TAPE OF A SPECIFIED CONSTRUCTION IS WOUND. THE TAPES FOR THE ARRESTING GEAR SYSTEMS ARE CONNECTED BY A STEEL PENDANT STRETCHED ACROSS THE RUNWAY TO ENGAGE INCOMING AIRCRAFT.

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B-154610, SEPTEMBER 11, 1964, 44 COMP. GEN. 131

BIDS - EVALUATION - DELIVERY PROVISIONS - GUARANTEED SHIPPING WEIGHT UNDER AN INVITATION CONTAINING SHIPPING DESTINATIONS FOR ONLY A SMALL PORTION OF THE PROCUREMENT, ALTHOUGH ALL WERE KNOWN, AND NO PACKAGING REQUIREMENTS OR INSTRUCTIONS, BIDDERS TO STATE GUARANTEED MAXIMUM SHIPPING WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS AND TO ABSORB TRANSPORTATION COSTS FOR WEIGHT IN EXCESS OF THAT GUARANTEED, PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPH 2 201 (B) (XIII), ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION, COGENT REASONS EXIST TO REJECT ALL BIDS, THE NEED TO DETERMINE TRANSPORTATION COSTS DUE TO THE SMALL PRICE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ONLY TWO BIDS TECHNICALLY QUALIFYING AND THE DIFFICULTY OF EVALUATING THE TRANSPORTATION FACTOR WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF THE SPECIAL PACKAGING NOT HAVING BEEN ANTICIPATED, AND A MORE REALISTIC METHOD OF EVALUATING TRANSPORTATION COSTS BEING NEEDED, THE LOW BID HAVING BEEN REJECTED FOR FAILING TO GUARANTEE DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHTS, EVEN THOUGH THE INFORMATION PROVIDED NO ASSISTANCE IN DETERMINING COSTS OR IN EVALUATING THE BID, AND THE SECOND LOW BIDDER'S GUARANTEE FAILING TO PROVIDE AN ENFORCEMENT OBLIGATION, READVERTISEMENT OF THE PROCUREMENT IS JUSTIFIED.

TO THE COMMANDANT, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, SEPTEMBER 11, 1964:

WITH REFERENCE TO INVITATION FOR BIDS (IFB) NO. 155 Q-64, ISSUED JUNE 15, 1964, BY THE COMMANDANT, MARINE CORPS, ARLINGTON ANNEX, WE HAVE RECEIVED REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE DATED JULY 15 AND 24, 1964; AUGUST 17 AND 24, 1964; JULY 31, 1964; AND AUGUST 3, 1964; FROM, RESPECTIVELY, THE QUARTERMASTER GENERAL OF THE MARINE CORPS; LT. COLONEL R. H. STONEMAN, MARINE CORPS PROJECT OFFICER FOR THE SHORT AIRFIELD TACTICAL SYSTEM (SATS); AND MR. C. H. MESTER, HEAD OF THE TECHNICAL REVIEW BOARD FOR THIS PROCUREMENT, AT NAVAL AIR ENGINEERING LABORATORY (NAEL), NAVAL AIR ENGINEERING CENTER (NAEC), BUREAU OF NAVAL WEAPONS, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA. THE REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE ARE RESPONSIVE TO PROTESTS AND BRIEFS FROM E. W. BLISS COMPANY (BLISS), DATED JUNE 30, JULY 23, AND AUGUST 4, 1964, AND FROM VORTEC PRODUCTS COMPANY (VORTEC), DATED JULY 9, 21 AND 31, AND AUGUST 5, 1964, AGAINST THE REJECTION OF THEIR RESPECTIVE BIDS ON THE CITED INVITATION, WHICH WAS THE SECOND STEP OF A COMPETITIVELY ADVERTISED PROCUREMENT FOR M-21 ARRESTING GEAR SYSTEMS AND RELATED PARTS.

THESE PARTICULAR SYSTEMS WERE INITIALLY DEVELOPED BY VORTEC IN CONJUNCTION WITH NAEL, WHICH MAINTAINED TECHNICAL COGNIZANCE OF THE PROCUREMENT CONDUCTED BY THE MARINE CORPS IN WASHINGTON, D.C. THEY ARE TO BE USED ON SHORT AIRFIELDS BEING DEVELOPED UNDER THE SATS PROGRAM, AND COMPRISE A PAIR OF POWER ABSORBERS ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF AN AIRFIELD RUNWAY, WITH EACH ABSORBER CARRYING AN OPERATIONAL OR OPERATING REEL ASSEMBLY ON WHICH NYLON TAPE OF A SPECIFIED CONSTRUCTION IS WOUND. THE TAPES FOR THE ARRESTING GEAR SYSTEMS ARE CONNECTED BY A STEEL PENDANT STRETCHED ACROSS THE RUNWAY TO ENGAGE INCOMING AIRCRAFT.

THE GOVERNMENT TECHNICAL PERSONNEL AT NAEL DESIRED FURTHER REFINEMENT OF THE SYSTEM PRIOR TO PRODUCTION PROCUREMENT. DUE TO HEAVY WORKLOAD, THE MARINE CORPS WAS ASSIGNED THE TASK OF PROCURING THE ITEMS. ON MAY 15, 1964, THE MARINE CORPS ASKED 23 FIRMS TO SUBMIT TECHNICAL PROPOSALS ALONG THE LINES PRESCRIBED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS DRAWN AT NAEL. OF THE FOUR COMPANIES WHICH OFFERED PROPOSALS, BLISS AND VORTEC WERE DETERMINED TO BE TECHNICALLY QUALIFIED TO PRODUCE THE ITEMS. ON JUNE 15, 1964, IFBS WERE SENT TO THESE TWO FIRMS, SOLICITING F.O.B. ORIGIN PRICES ON ITEM 1, THE ARRESTING GEAR SYSTEMS, WHICH INCLUDED REEL ASSEMBLIES AND TAPES; ITEM 2, THE SAME UNITS AS THOSE IN ITEM 1 BUT WITHOUT THE TAPES; AND ITEM 3, SETS OF EQUIPMENT REPAIR PARTS (ERP), WHICH INCLUDE ONE SET OF TAPES ON OPERATIONAL REELS, TOGETHER WITH MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE "SUBITEMS" OF VARYING QUANTITIES OF TAPES (WOUND ON SPECIFIED SHIPPING REELS).

THE IFB CONTAINED DESTINATIONS FOR ONLY A SMALL PORTION OF THE PROCUREMENT AND NO PACKAGING REQUIREMENTS OR INSTRUCTIONS, BUT DID CONTAIN A CLAUSE REQUIRING BIDDERS TO STATE THEIR GUARANTEED MAXIMUM SHIPPING WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS (GMSWD), BY WHICH THE BIDDER AGREED TO ABSORB ANY EXCESS TRANSPORTATION COSTS WHICH MIGHT RESULT FROM THE ACTUAL TOTAL SHIPPING WEIGHT EXCEEDING THE GMSWD. WHILE THE INVITATION CONTAINED NO SPECIFICATIONS FOR PACKAGING, IT DID INCLUDE A CLAUSE RESERVING TO THE GOVERNMENT AN OPTION TO AMEND THE CONTRACT TO PROVIDE FOR SPECIAL PACKAGING, THE ADDITIONAL COST FOR WHICH WOULD THEN BE NEGOTIATED. THE SUBJECT GMSWD CLAUSE, WHICH ESSENTIALLY DUPLICATES THE LANGUAGE IN PARAGRAPH 2-201 (B) (XIII), ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION, PROVIDES:

GUARANTEED MAXIMUM SHIPPING WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS: EACH BID WILL BE EVALUATED TO THE DESTINATION SPECIFIED BY ADDING TO THE F.O.B. ORIGIN PRICE ALL TRANSPORTATION COSTS TO SAID DESTINATION. THE GUARANTEED MAXIMUM SHIPPING WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR DETERMINATION OF TRANSPORTATION COSTS. BIDDER MUST STATE THE WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS IN HIS BID OR IT WILL BE REJECTED. IF DELIVERED ITEMS EXCEED THE GUARANTEED MAXIMUM SHIPPING WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS, THE BIDDER AGREES THAT THE CONTRACT PRICE SHALL BE REDUCED BY AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS COMPUTED FOR EVALUATION PURPOSES BASED ON BIDDER'S GUARANTEED MAXIMUM SHIPPING WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS AND THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN USED FOR BID EVALUATION PURPOSES BASED ON CORRECT SHIPPING DATA. (ASPR MAY 1961)

BIDS WERE OPENED ON THE SCHEDULED DATE AND IT APPEARED THAT THE VORTEC BID WAS APPROXIMATELY $11,000 LOWER THAN THE BLISS PRICE, ON AN AGGREGATE BID OF ABOUT $5 MILLION. VORTEC FAILED TO GUARANTEE ANY SHIPPING WEIGHTS IN ITS BID, ALTHOUGH ITS TECHNICAL PROPOSAL HAD SHOWN DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHTS OF THE COMPONENTS OF THE SYSTEM AND A TOTAL WEIGHT FOR THE SYSTEM, BUT NO WEIGHTS FOR THE REPAIR PARTS. BECAUSE OF THIS FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE ABOVE-QUOTED REQUIREMENTS, THE VORTEC BID WAS REJECTED AS NONRESPONSIVE.

PRIOR TO BIDDING, BLISS HAD REQUESTED FROM THE CONTRACTING OFFICER AN INTERPRETATION OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE INVITATION AS TO THE NUMBER OF SETS OF TAPE AND REEL ASSEMBLIES TO BE INCLUDED IN ITEM 1. ON JUNE 24, THE MARINE CORPS SENT BLISS A TELEGRAM OFFERING AN INTERPRETATION AS TO THE REQUIREMENTS BOTH FOR ITEMS 1 AND 3, WHICH WAS LATER DETERMINED TO HAVE BEEN INCORRECT. UPON EXAMINATION OF THE BLISS BID, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CONCLUDED THAT IT HAD BEEN BASED UPON THE ERRONEOUS INTERPRETATION SO FURNISHED. BECAUSE OF THIS FACT, AND BECAUSE OF THE FAILURE OF THE INVITATION TO SPECIFY DESTINATIONS FOR THE GREATER PART OF THE EQUIPMENT, TOGETHER WITH THE LACK OF SPECIFICATIONS FOR PACKING AND PACKAGING, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DETERMINED TO CANCEL THE INVITATION AND READVERTISE THE REQUIREMENT UNDER CORRECTED SPECIFICATIONS. BOTH BIDDERS HAVE PROTESTED THAT ACTION,EACH CLAIMING TO BE ENTITLED TO AN AWARD BASED ON ITS BID AS SUBMITTED UNDER THE ORIGINAL INVITATION.

THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT ALTHOUGH THE PROCUREMENT REQUISITION OF MARCH 11, 1964, FROM THE BUREAU OF NAVAL WEAPONS, STATED THAT DESTINATIONS WERE NOT THEN KNOWN AND WOULD NOT BE SPECIFIED UNTIL AFTER AWARD WHEN THE MATERIAL WAS READY FOR SHIPMENT, SUCH DESTINATIONS WERE GIVEN BY THE SATS PROJECT OFFICER LATER IN THE SAME MONTH TO NAEL, WHICH IN TURN OFFICIALLY PROMULGATED THEM THROUGHOUT NAEC IN APRIL OF 1964. HOWEVER, THIS INFORMATION WAS NOT GIVEN TO THE MARINE CORPS CONTRACTING OFFICER, AND HE CONTINUED TO ASSUME, UNTIL HE INQUIRED OF NAEC FOR PURPOSES OF READVERTISING THE PROCUREMENT, THAT DESTINATIONS HAD NOT BEEN OFFICIALLY DESIGNATED. FINALLY, THE RECORD SHOWS THAT SPECIAL AND ELABORATE PACKAGING REQUIREMENTS WILL BE DESIGNED AND ISSUED AFTER AWARD, BUT ARE NOT NOW KNOWN AND CANNOT BE DETERMINED UNTIL THE FINAL CONFIGURATION OF A PRODUCTION M-21 SYSTEM IS DETERMINED. THE IFB GAVE NO CERTAIN NOTICE THAT SUCH DESIGNS WILL BE ISSUED, BUT ONLY CONTAINED THE SPECIAL PACKAGING OPTION CLAUSE, MENTIONED ABOVE. HOWEVER, MR. MESTER OF NAEL HAS STATED HIS BELIEF THAT BOTH BIDDERS WERE AWARE SPECIAL PACKAGING WAS NEEDED AND WOULD BE ORDERED BY CONTRACT AMENDMENT. MR. MESTER ALSO STATES THAT ALTHOUGH THE GOVERNMENT KNOWS THE FUTURE AMENDMENT TO THE CONTRACT WILL REQUIRE THAT THE SPECIAL PACKAGING WEIGH LESS THAN 20 PERCENT OF THE WEIGHT OF THE ITEMS BEING PROCURED, IT DOES NOT KNOW AND CANNOT DETERMINE WHAT WILL BE THE ACTUAL OR MINIMUM WEIGHT OF SUCH SPECIAL PACKAGING.

AS A GENERAL RULE, THE FAILURE TO RESPOND TO A REQUIREMENT IN AN IFB FOR GUARANTEED WEIGHTS RESULTS IN REJECTION OF THE BID. 38 COMP. GEN. 819. NONETHELESS, VORTEC CONTENDS THAT UNDER THE FACTS OF THIS CASE ITS BID SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REJECTED, NOTWITHSTANDING THE GMSWD CLAUSE IN THE IFB, BECAUSE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES EXISTING WHEN THE INVITATION WAS ISSUED IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE A USEFUL EVALUATION OF TRANSPORTATION COSTS OR OBTAIN AN EFFECTIVE GUARANTEE THEREOF. VORTEC ALLEGES THAT WHEN IT DISCOVERED THE IFB DID NOT STATE PACKAGING REQUIREMENTS OR DESTINATIONS FOR THE BULK OF THE ITEMS, IT CONSULTED MR. MESTER AND WAS ADVISED THAT SPECIAL PACKAGING HAD NOT YET BEEN DESIGNED, AND THAT WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH DESIGN, NO MEANINGFUL GROSS SHIPPING WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS FOR PACKAGED ITEMS COULD BE STATED. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER REPORTS THAT THE DIFFICULTY OF EVALUATING THE TRANSPORTATION FACTOR WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF THE SPECIAL PACKAGING WAS NOT CONSIDERED WHEN THE IFB WAS ISSUED, AND IT WAS NOT ANTICIPATED THAT BIDS WOULD BE SO CLOSE AS TO REQUIRE A DETERMINATION OF TRANSPORTATION COSTS.

BLISS MAINTAINS THAT THE PARTIAL ABSENCE OF DESTINATIONS AND THE ABSENCE OF ANY PACKAGING REQUIREMENTS IN THE IFB DID NOT AND SHOULD NOT PRECLUDE AN EVALUATION OF TRANSPORTATION COSTS. IT ASSERTS THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF PACKAGING INSTRUCTIONS IN THE IFB, STANDARD COMMERCIAL PACKAGING SHOULD BE USED FOR PURPOSES OF EVALUATION, AND THAT THE GOVERNMENT COULD MAKE ANY CHANGES IN PACKAGING REQUIREMENTS WHICH MIGHT SUBSEQUENTLY BE REQUIRED BY EXERCISING ITS RIGHT UNDER THE SPECIAL PACKAGING OPTION CLAUSE. IT POINTS OUT THAT ASPR 1-1305.1 REQUIRES PROSPECTIVE SUPPLIERS, WHEN APPROPRIATE, TO FURNISH PACKING AND CRATING INFORMATION TO THE GOVERNMENT. HOWEVER, WE MUST ALSO RECOGNIZE THAT ASPR 1-1304 STATES THAT IN ORDER TO ENABLE THE SUPPLIER TO BID PROPERLY, IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE COMMODITY DESCRIPTION TO INCLUDE PACKING AND PACKAGING INSTRUCTIONS. WHILE IT MAY BE THAT IN SOME CASES THESE INSTRUCTIONS MAY BE NO MORE THAN A DIRECTION TO EMPLOY STANDARD COMMERCIAL PRACTICES, IN THE INSTANT CASE NO INSTRUCTIONS WHATEVER WERE GIVEN. THE ABSENCE OF ANY INFORMATION ON PACKAGING MAY IN CERTAIN CASES JUSTIFY THE REJECTION OF ALL BIDS. SEE B-148888, DATED AUGUST 7, 1962.

MR. MESTER STATES UNEQUIVOCALLY THAT SPECIAL PACKING AND PACKAGING WILL BE DESIGNED FOR USE IN THE SHIPMENT OF THIS PROCUREMENT AND THE CONTRACTING OFFICER REPORTS THAT HE HAS ALWAYS INTENDED TO AMEND ANY CONTRACT AWARDED SO AS TO REQUIRE THE CONTRACTOR TO USE THESE DESIGNS. THE BLISS ,GUARANTEE" OF THE GROSS SHIPPING WEIGHT IMPOSES NO ENFORCEABLE OBLIGATION TO ABSORB ANY INCREASE IN TRANSPORTATION COSTS RESULTING FROM THE WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS OF THE CONTEMPLATED SPECIAL PACKAGES BEING GREATER THAN THE UNDESIGNATED WEIGHT AND THE DIMENSIONS OF THE PACKAGES GUARANTEED BY BLISS. IN THE ABSENCE OF A GMSWD CLAUSE REQUIRING A GUARANTEE OF THE WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS OF PACKAGING WHICH WILL ACTUALLY BE TRANSPORTED, WE CAN PERCEIVE NO MEANS BY WHICH SUCH CLAUSE CAN SERVE ITS INTENDED PURPOSE OF FIXING EXACTLY THE TOTAL MAXIMUM COST, INCLUDING FREIGHT, TO THE GOVERNMENT. SEE 38 COMP. GEN. 819. MOREOVER, SINCE THE SUBJECT GMSWD CLAUSE DOES NOT REQUIRE A SPECIFICATION BY THE BIDDERS OF THE WEIGHT OF THE ITEMS EXCLUSIVE OF PACKING, OR OF THE PORTION OF THE GUARANTEED WEIGHT ASSIGNED BY THE BIDDER THERETO, WEIGHTS FURNISHED IN RESPONSE TO SUCH CLAUSE WOULD OFFER NO HELP IN EVALUATING TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, AND ON THE BASIS OF KNOWN FACTS OR REALISTIC ESTIMATES, WHICH BID WOULD RESULT IN THE LOWEST PROCUREMENT COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. SEE 42 COMP. GEN. 257, 260, WHERE WE OBSERVE THAT A PROCURING ACTIVITY'S USE OF ESTIMATED QUANTITIES FOR BID EVALUATION, WHICH WERE DIFFERENT FROM THE ACTUAL ANTICIPATED NEEDS, COULD RESULT IN A BIDDER BEING FOUND LOW ON EVALUATION WHO IS NOT THE LOWEST BIDDER ON THE REAL REQUIREMENTS, OR THE BEST ESTIMATE THEREOF. ALSO SEE B-151342, DATED JUNE 18, 1963, AND B- 152911, DATED JANUARY 27, 1964, WHERE WE HELD THAT BIDDERS' FAILURE TO SUPPLY RAIL AND PORT INFORMATION OR TRANSPORTATION DATA, REQUIRED BY THE IFBS FOR PURPOSES OF BID EVALUATION, SHOULD NOT RESULT IN REJECTION OF SUCH BIDS IF THE INFORMATION AND DATA SERVED NO USEFUL PURPOSE IN EVALUATING BIDS.

WHERE, AS HERE, A STATEMENT OR GUARANTEE OF DIMENSIONS AND TOTAL SHIPPING WEIGHTS FOR PACKAGED ITEMS WOULD PROVIDE ASSISTANCE NEITHER IN FIXING EXACTLY THE TOTAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THOSE ITEMS NOR IN EVALUATING BIDS, A BIDDER'S FAILURE TO SUPPLY SUCH GUARANTEE IN HIS BID WOULD NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT ITS CONSIDERATION, AND AN INVITATION REQUIREMENT THEREFORE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IMMATERIAL. B-154064, DATED JUNE 23, 1964. ACCORDINGLY, VORTEC'S BID SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REJECTED AS BEING NONRESPONSIVE TO THE ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE IFB.

WITH RESPECT TO VORTEC'S CONTENTION THAT, SINCE THE GUARANTEED SHIPPING WEIGHT REQUIREMENT WAS NOT MATERIAL, VORTEC SHOULD HAVE BEEN AWARDED A CONTRACT AS THE LOWEST BIDDER, IT CITES OUR DECISIONS B 153101, FEBRUARY 3, 1964 (43 COMP. GEN. 537), AND 40 COMP. GEN. 514, IN WHICH WE HELD THAT WHERE THE WEIGHTS WILL NOT AFFECT THE RELATIVE STANDING OF THE BIDDERS, AN OMISSION OF A REQUIREMENT FOR SUCH A GUARANTEE MAY NOT IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES BE OBJECTIONABLE. HOWEVER, IN EACH OF THESE CASES THE PROCURING ACTIVITY WAS ABLE TO DETERMINE THE MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM POSSIBLE WEIGHTS OF THE ITEMS BEING PROCURED, AND THEREBY TO COMPUTE TRANSPORTATION COSTS TO STATED DESTINATIONS, AND IN NEITHER CASE DID THE ADDITION OF THESE COSTS TO THE F.O.B. ORIGIN BIDS REVERSE THE POSITION OF THE LOW BIDDERS. FURTHERMORE, WE NOTE THAT IN THE FIRST CASE CITED, THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT HAVING FIXED AS NEARLY AS POSSIBLE THE TOTAL PROCUREMENT COST TO THE GOVERNMENT, DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF GUARANTEED SHIPPING WEIGHTS, BECAME A MOOT POINT AS THE LOW BIDDER AGREED TO PAY ALL TRANSPORTATION COSTS TO THE DESIGNATED DESTINATIONS. IN THE OTHER CITED CASE, IT WAS NECESSARY TO BALANCE THE FAILURE TO HAVE FIXED THE PROCUREMENT COST AGAINST THE EXISTENCE OF A DIFFERENCE OF A MILLION DOLLARS BETWEEN THE TWO LOWEST BIDS. THE MARINE CORPS REPORTS THAT IT IS UNABLE TO ESTIMATE WITH ASSURANCE OF REASONABLE ACCURACY THE LOWEST POSSIBLE OR THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE WEIGHT OF EVEN THE UNPACKAGED ITEMS, AS REDESIGNED BY EACH BIDDER. THIS ESTIMATE CANNOT BE MADE BECAUSE THE MARINE CORPS DOES NOT KNOW THE FULL EFFECTS OF THE INCREASE IN THE SIZE OF THE HEAT SINK CAPABILITY, THE INCREASED STAKEDOWN REQUIREMENT, AND THE VALUE ENGINEERING CHANGES WHICH BLISS AND VORTEC MAY CONTEMPLATE. MOREOVER, THE EXACT MATERIALS TO BE USED IN THE REDESIGNED PORTION OF THE SYSTEM ARE ALSO UNKNOWN, AND BLISS ALLEGES THAT ITS REDESIGN WILL HAVE A SIGNIFICANT EFFECT ON SHIPPING WEIGHT. IT FOLLOWS THAT THE MARINE CORPS CANNOT, WITHOUT AN ESTIMATED WEIGHT FOR THE SPECIAL PACKAGING AND A GUARANTEED WEIGHT FOR THE UNPACKAGED ITEMS, COMPUTE THE TOTAL TRANSPORTATION COST FOR THIS PROCUREMENT, AND THEREFORE CANNOT DETERMINE WHETHER SUCH COSTS WOULD REVERSE THE COMPETITIVE POSITION OF THE TWO BIDDERS.

IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE BELIEVE THAT THE FAILURE OF THE SUBJECT IFB TO SHOW DESTINATIONS, WHICH WERE KNOWN, TO PROVIDE FOR A REALISTIC METHOD FOR EVALUATING TRANSPORTATION COSTS TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, AND TO INCLUDE AN ENFORCEABLE GUARANTEE PROVISION, CONSTITUTE SUFFICIENTLY COGENT REASONS TO REJECT ALL BIDS. IN VIEW OF THIS CONCLUSION, WE NEED NOT DECIDE WHETHER BLISS WAS MISLED EITHER BY THE MARINE CORPS TELEGRAM OF JUNE 24 OR BY THE APPARENT BID REQUIREMENT THAT AN ADDITIONAL SET OF TAPES ON SHIPPING REELS WERE TO BE SUPPLIED WITH ITEM 1; NOR THE EFFECT OF VORTEC'S MISUNDERSTANDING THAT THE TAPES FOR ITEM 1 WERE TO BE FURNISHED ON THE SHIPPING RATHER THAN THE OPERATING REELS.

WE THEREFORE FIND NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE DETERMINATION TO REJECT ALL BIDS UNDER IFB 155 Q-64 AND TO READVERTISE THE PROCUREMENT. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING WE SUGGEST THAT SPECIAL CONSIDERATION BE GIVEN TO ASSURING THAT THE READVERTISED IFB ADEQUATELY PROVIDES FOR AN APPROPRIATE GUARANTEE OF SHIPPING WEIGHTS AND FOR AN EVALUATION OF TRANSPORTATION COSTS.

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