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A trucking firm requested the review of a disallowance by the General Services Administration (GSA) of its claim for additional freight charges on 10 Government bills of lading (GBL). The supplemental bills contained charges for exclusive use of vehicle service which are in addition to those originally billed and paid. GSA contended that the charges were not applicable because the conditions of the various exclusive use tender rules were not met. To establish the applicability of exclusive use of vehicle charges, there must be an annotation on the GBL requesting such service and there must be some evidence that exclusive use of vehicle service was performed. The protester conceded that the shipper did not indicate specifically on any of the GBL's a request for exclusive use. However, three sets of circumstances were present which consituted, in substance, requests for exclusive use of vehicle service. Several GBL's contained no annotation concerning seals, but the shipments were sealed with a seal lock that could not be removed by ordinary means. One shipment was sealed with a cable seal lock, and the GBL was annotated that the lock had been applied and requested that a flame producing device not be used to remove the lock. In other situations, the GBL's contained annotations which directed that the seals should not be broken except in case of emergency or upon prior authority of the consignor or consignee. In the view of GAO, where the GBL was annotated not to break the seals, the carrier had substantially complied with its tender requirement for annotation on the GBL indicating a request for exclusive use service. In the other circumstances, there was no compliance with the requirement for a written annotation. A shipper's conduct in sealing a vehicle cannot substitute for a written annotation. Absent a notation not to break the seals, the carrier had the option of removing the seals and transferring or consolidating shipments. Accordingly, GAO sustained the audit action of GSA in part and reversed it in part.


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