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INCORPORATED: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR PROTEST AGAINST THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. THE SPECIFIC CHANGE IN THE SPECIFICATIONS TO WHICH YOU OBJECT WAS THE ADDITION OF THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE COAL OFFERED HAVE A MINIMUM ASH SOFTENING TEMPERATURE (A.S.T.). IT IS STATED YOU HAD BEEN ADVISED MANY MONTHS PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE INVITATION THAT SUCH A SPECIFICATION CHANGE WOULD BE MADE AND THAT YOU TRIED TO DISSUADE THE AIR FORCE FROM MAKING SUCH A SPECIFICATION CHANGE. THE PURPOSE OF THE TESTS WAS TO DETERMINE WHICH CHARACTERISTICS OF LIGNITE WOULD REDUCE DEPOSITS ON BOILER TUBES AND IMPROVE OPERATING EFFICIENCY IN THE INSTALLED EQUIPMENT. A REDUCTION IN PERCENTAGE OF THE SMALL SIZES IN THE FUEL WAS TRIED.

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B-156475, JUN. 23, 1965

TO BAUKOL-NOONAN, INCORPORATED:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR PROTEST AGAINST THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. DSA-6-65-292, ISSUED BY THE DEFENSE FUEL SUPPLY CENTER.

YOU QUESTION THE REASONABLENESS AND PROPRIETY OF A REVISION IN THE SPECIFICATIONS FOR PROCUREMENT OF THE LIGNITE COAL REQUIREMENTS OF GRAND FORKS AND MINOT AIR FORCE BASES, NORTH DAKOTA, FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1966. THE SPECIFIC CHANGE IN THE SPECIFICATIONS TO WHICH YOU OBJECT WAS THE ADDITION OF THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE COAL OFFERED HAVE A MINIMUM ASH SOFTENING TEMPERATURE (A.S.T.) OF 2,350 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT. IT IS STATED YOU HAD BEEN ADVISED MANY MONTHS PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE INVITATION THAT SUCH A SPECIFICATION CHANGE WOULD BE MADE AND THAT YOU TRIED TO DISSUADE THE AIR FORCE FROM MAKING SUCH A SPECIFICATION CHANGE.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT SINCE THE EARLY PART OF 1963, THE AIR FORCE HAS CONDUCTED TESTS WITH VARIOUS LIGNITE COALS AT MINOT AIR FORCE BASE IN AN EFFORT TO DETERMINE HOW TO ELIMINATE THE CONSIDERABLE PROBLEMS EXPERIENCED IN BURNING LIGNITE FUEL IN THE CENTRAL HEATING BOILERS AT GRAND FORKS AND MINOT. THE PURPOSE OF THE TESTS WAS TO DETERMINE WHICH CHARACTERISTICS OF LIGNITE WOULD REDUCE DEPOSITS ON BOILER TUBES AND IMPROVE OPERATING EFFICIENCY IN THE INSTALLED EQUIPMENT. A REDUCTION IN PERCENTAGE OF THE SMALL SIZES IN THE FUEL WAS TRIED. THIS SHOWED A SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT IN OPERATIONS, BUT IT WAS NOT SIGNIFICANT. IT WAS FOUND THAT BY USING LIGNITE WITH AN A.S.T. OF APPROXIMATELY 2,100 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT, AFTER TWO TO THREE WEEKS CONTINUOUS OPERATION MINERAL DEPOSITION ON THE FURNACE SCREEN TUBES AND IN CONVECTOR SECTIONS OF BOILERS REDUCED THE EFFICIENCY OF THE BOILERS TO SUCH A DEGREE THAT IT WAS NECESSARY TO WITHDRAW SUCH BOILERS FROM OPERATION AND REMOVE THE DEPOSITS MANUALLY BEFORE REFIRING. IT WAS FOUND THAT BY USING LIGNITE WITH AN A.S.T. OF 2,350 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT, THE PERIOD OF OPERATION PRIOR TO CLEANING COULD BE EXTENDED TO 26 WEEKS WITH RESULTING SAVINGS IN MAINTENANCE COSTS. IT WAS A RESULT OF THESE TESTS THAT IT WAS DECIDED THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS HERE INVOLVED SHOULD REQUIRE LIGNITE WITH A.S.T. 2,350 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT CHARACTERISTIC.

IT CONSISTENTLY HAS BEEN HELD THAT THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR DRAFTING PROPER SPECIFICATIONS WHICH REFLECT THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT IS PRIMARILY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY CONCERNED. COMP. GEN. 554, 30 ID. 368. WHILE THE LAW REQUIRING ADVERTISING FOR BIDS AND AWARD OF CONTRACTS TO THE LOWEST RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE BIDDER CONTEMPLATES FAIR AND UNRESTRICTED COMPETITION, THE FACT THAT A PARTICULAR BIDDER MAY NOT BE READILY ABLE TO MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT FOR SUPPLYING THE NEEDS WILL NOT BE SUFFICIENT TO WARRANT THE CONCLUSION THAT SUCH SPECIFICATIONS ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE. THUS, WHILE THE LIGNITE DESCRIBED ON THE INVITATION HERE INVOLVED WILL ELIMINATE CERTAIN LIGNITE HERETOFORE PURCHASED, IN VIEW OF THE REPORTED FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES THIS OFFICE WOULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED IN HOLDING THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS ARE RESTRICTED TO THE POINT OF PRECLUDING FREE AND OPEN COMPETITION. 36 COMP. GEN. 251.

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