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9 COMP. GEN. 519

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American Government

9 COMP. GEN. 519

Comptroller General of the United States
June 21, 1930

A-31901, JUNE 21, 1930, 9 COMP. GEN. 519

ADVERTISING - BIDS - AUTOMOBILE SPECIFICATIONS - NONESSENTIAL FEATURES FOR ORDINARY USES ALL MAKES AND GRADES OF AUTOMOBILES ARE FOR CONSIDERATION IN DETERMINING WHICH WILL BEST MEET THE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE AND BIDS SHOULD BE REQUESTED ON SPECIFICATIONS DRAWN, NOT BY DESIGNATION OF A PARTICULAR MAKE, BUT SHOULD SHOW ONLY SUCH DETAILS AS TO CONSTRUCTION IN PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS AS CAN SATISFACTORILY BE SHOWN TO BE NECESSARY TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SERVICE. NONESSENTIAL FEATURES, SUCH AS SHOCK ABSORBERS, INSTEAD OF SOME OTHER SIMILAR DEVICES, AND NONSHATTERABLE GLASS IN THE WINDSHIELD, INSTEAD OF SOME OTHER GLASS, SHOULD NOT BE MADE CONTROLLING IF THE WORK REASONABLY CAN BE PERFORMED WITH AUTOMOBILES NOT HAVING SUCH FEATURES OR EQUIPMENT THAT IS THE PROCEDURE SHOULD NOT BE ADOPTED OF SPECIFYING AS CONTROLLING A PARTICULAR NONESSENTIAL FEATURE OF AN AUTOMOBILE, SUCH AS SHATTERPROOF GLASS, SHOCK ABSORBERS, STYLE OF WHEELS, ETC., THEREBY EXCLUDING BIDDERS THAT DO NOT OFFER THE PARTICULAR FEATURE OR CAUSING SUCH BIDDERS TO CHANGE THEIR MODELS SO AS TO EMBRACE SUCH FEATURES, THEREBY INCREASING THE COST AND PREVENTING REAL COMPETITION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, JUNE 21, 1930:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 9, 1930, AS FOLLOWS:

IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 21 REFERRING TO PROPOSAL NO. 22220 COVERING ONE AUTOMOBILE, COPIES OF THE BID REQUEST AND SPECIFICATION AS WELL AS ALL PROPOSALS RECEIVED UNDER THIS NUMBER ARE BEING INCLOSED HEREWITH AND THE EXPLANATIONS GIVEN BELOW.

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THIS DEPARTMENT IS AUTHORIZED TO EXCEPT THE BID LISTED UNDER (B) AS BEING THE LOWEST BID COMPLYING WITH THE SPECIFICATION ATTACHED TO THE INVITATIONS TO BID. THE BIDS, OPENED MAY 16, 1930, AND ALLOWANCE FOR AN OLD VEHICLE ARE AS FOLLOWS:

BID ALLOWANCE NET PRICE BID A ------------- ------------ $619.02 $60.00 $559.02 BID B ----------------- -------- 707.35 75.00 632.35 BID C ------- ----------------- - 673.91 32.50 641.41 BID D -------------------------- 704.27 35.00 669.27

AS EMPHASIZED IN THE SPECIFICATION, IT IS THE PURPOSE TO ASSURE TO THE GOVERNMENT A VEHICLE EMBODYING "THE BEST DESIGN, MATERIAL, CONSTRUCTION, AND WORKMANSHIP FOR RELIABLE OPERATION AND LONG LIFE IN THE TYPE OF SERVICE FOR WHICH THE VEHICLE IS INTENDED," ALL RESULTING IN ALL ROUND ECONOMY OF TRANSPORTATION SERVICE. IN VIEW OF THE DIFFICULTIES CONNECTED WITH DETERMINING RELATIVE RELIABILITY AND ECONOMY OF THE OPERATION (INCLUDING MAINTENANCE) EXCEPT FROM ACTUAL SERVICE APPROXIMATING THE LIFE PERIOD OF THE VEHICLES, IT BECOMES ADVISABLE AND NECESSARY TO INCORPORATE IN THE SPECIFICATION SUCH REQUIREMENTS AS WILL, ON THE BASIS OF PAST EXPERIENCE AVAILABLE AND THE BEST JUDGMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT, ASSURE THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A HIGH STANDARD FOR THE TRANSPORTATION EQUIPMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT. IN THIS INSTANCE THE SPECIFICATION INCLUDES A LIMITED NUMBER OF REQUIREMENTS CONSIDERED BY THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS AS IMPORTANT TO INSURE A VEHICLE THAT WILL GIVE THE DESIRED RESULTS.

IN ORDER THAT THE RELATIVE MERITS OF THE VEHICLES OFFERED MAY BE JUDGED THE FURNISHING OF SPECIFIED DATA AND DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION IS MADE A REQUISITE.

THE LOW BID (A), WHILE APPARENTLY OFFERING A VEHICLE "AS PER SPECIFICATION," WAS ACCOMPANIED BY NONE OF THE DATA OR DESCRIPTIVE MATTER CALLED FOR AND IT HAS BEEN NECESSARY TO CALL FOR THIS INFORMATION. (SEE BUREAU OF STANDARDS LETTER OF MAY 24 AND REPLY THERETO.) FROM ALL THE INFORMATION NOW OBTAINED, THE VEHICLE OFFERED DOES NOT CONFORM WITH THE SPECIFICATION IN THE FOLLOWING FEATURES:

(1) ENGINE.--- THE 6-CYLINDER ENGINE HAS ONLY THREE CRANKSHAFT MAIN BEARINGS. THIS MEANS THAT THERE ARE THREE CRANKS BETWEEN ADJACENT BEARINGS, INSTEAD OF A MAXIMUM OF TWO CRANKS AS RESULTS FROM THE CLAUSE IN THE SPECIFICATION CALLING FOR A MINIMUM OF FOUR BEARINGS FOR A 6-CYLINDER ENGINE OR THREE BEARINGS FOR A 4-CYLINDER ENGINE. TO INSURE RIGIDITY AND BEST SUPPORT OF THE CRANKSHAFT THE CONDITION SPECIFIED IS VERY DESIRABLE AND WELL RECOGNIZED. THE DESIGN WITH MORE THAN TWO CRANKS BETWEEN ADJACENT BEARINGS TO-DAY PERSISTS ONLY IN THE ENGINES USED IN THREE OF THE VERY LOW-PRICED PASSENGER AND LIGHT COMMERCIAL CHASSIS. EVEN HERE THERE IS A LITTLE DOUBT THAT ON THE FIRST OCCASION FOR A REDESIGN OF THESE ENGINES THEY WILL BE ARRANGED TO FOLLOW ONE OF THE PRACTICES NOW GENERAL AND HAVE EITHER TWO OR EVEN ONLY ONE CRANK BETWEEN ADJACENT BEARINGS. THE PROPOSED FEDERAL SPECIFICATION FOR MOTOR TRUCKS WHICH, THOUGH NOT YET PROMULGATED, HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE OF THE FEDERAL SPECIFICATIONS BOARD AND BY THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, AND WHICH WAS RECENTLY SUBMITTED FOR COMMENT TO THE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS, INCLUDES A CLAUSE REGARDING THE RELATIVE NUMBER OF BEARINGS IDENTICAL WITH THAT USED IN THE SPECIFICATION ISSUED WITH THIS PROPOSAL. THIS REQUIREMENT DOES NOT ELIMINATE COMPETITION AMONG A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF MAKERS OF CHASSIS (FOUR AND SIX CYLINDER) OF THE CAPACITY CALLED FOR IN THIS CASE.

(2) WHEELS.--- THE VEHICLE OFFERED DOES NOT, FROM THE INFORMATION FURNISHED, MEET THE STIPULATION OF THE SPECIFICATION THAT THE WHEELS SHALL PERMIT THE READY INSTALLATION OF SNAP-ON CHAINS OR SIMILAR EQUIPMENT WITHOUT REQUIRING THE MOVING OF THE VEHICLE OR RAISING OF THE WHEEL FROM THE GROUND. THERE ARE NO OPENINGS IN THE DISK WHEELS OFFERED. AS THIS VEHICLE WILL BE FREQUENTLY USED ON SIDE ROADS OFF THE ROAD AND ON FLYING AND FIELDS, IT IS REQUIRED THAT THIS CLAUSE OF THE SPECIFICATIONS BE MET.

(3) TIRES.--- SPECIFICATION CALLS FOR HEAVY-DUTY BALLOON TIRES. THE TIRES OFFERED ARE 4-PLY, WHILE HEAVY DUTY IMPLIES 6-PLY.

(4) WINDSHIELD GLASS.--- SHATTER-PROOF GLASS IS SPECIFIED AND REQUIRED FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS EMPLOYEES. GOING EVEN FURTHER, THE BUREAU HAS RECENTLY RECOMMENDED TO THE CHIEF COORDINATOR THAT THE USE OF SHATTER-PROOF GLASS BE ADOPTED AS A STANDARD FOR ALL GOVERNMENT VEHICLES. THIS BID DOES NOT OFFER THIS GLASS REGULARLY AND FROM THE LETTER OF PROTEST THE BIDDER'S SPECIAL WASHINGTON REPRESENTATIVE STATES "WE FEEL THAT AS FAR AS SHATTER-PROOF GLASS IS CONCERNED IN A LOW PRICE RANGE AUTOMOBILE AND ONLY USED IN THE WINDSHIELD, IT IS NOT MUCH VALUE, AS WE HAVE MANY PROOFS TO THAT EFFECT.' WHY SHATTER-PROOF GLASS SHOULD BE OF LESS VALUE IN A LOW PRICE RANGE AUTOMOBILE IS NOT EXPLAINED, NOR IS IT BELIEVED THAT MUCH VALUE CAN BE ATTACHED TO THE MANY PROOFS REFERRED TO. THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT MORE PROTECTION IS OFFERED IF NOT ONLY THE WINDSHIELD BUT ALL OTHER WINDOWS IN AN AUTOMOBILE WERE OF SHATTER-PROOF GLASS. IN THE PARTICULAR VEHICLE COVERED BY THIS SPECIFICATION, HOWEVER, ALL OTHER OPENINGS ARE WITHOUT GLASS AND PROVIDED WITH STORM CURTAINS WITH CELLULOID WINDOWS. RELIABLE STATISTICS SHOW THAT 21 PERCENT OF ALL AUTOMOBILE INJURIES RESULT FROM THE BREAKAGE OF THE GLASS; AND IT IS WELL RECOGNIZED THAT SHATTER-PROOF GLASS IS FAR SUPERIOR TO THAT GENERALLY USED, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT A FEW AUTOMOBILE DEALERS SEEM TO DISCOURAGE ITS USE BECAUSE THEIR CARS DO NOT INCLUDE IT AS STANDARD EQUIPMENT. SHATTER-PROOF GLASS IS COMING INTO MORE GENERAL USE ON HIGH, MEDIUM, AND LOW PRICE CARS AS INCREASED PRODUCTION IS LOWERING THE FORMERLY HIGH PRICE. THE OTHER BIDDERS INCLUDE THIS GLASS. AS THE COST OF SUCH GLASS FOR THE WINDSHIELD DOES NOT ENTAIL AN EXTRA OF MORE THAN $5 OR $10, ITS USE WOULD NOT AFFECT THE RELATIVE POSITION OF THE BIDS IN THIS CASE.

(5) CAPACITY.--- THE SPECIFICATION CALLS FOR A CAPACITY OF THE CHASSIS OF "THREE-QUARTER TON IN ADDITION TO BODY, GASOLINE, OIL, AND ACCESSORIES, ETC.' THE PRINTED SPECIFICATION COVERING THE VEHICLE OFFERED ON BID A, AND AS FURNISHED WITH BIDDER'S LETTER OF MAY 26 STATES THAT THE GROSS ALLOWABLE WEIGHT OF THE CHASSIS OFFERED "SHALL NOT EXCEED 4,000 POUNDS, WHICH INCLUDES THE CHASSIS, CAB, BODY, DRIVER, AND PAY LOAD.' WITH THE BODY IN QUESTION AND THREE-QUARTER TON LOAD AS CALLED FOR THE GROSS WEIGHT WOULD BE 4,400 POUNDS, OR 10 PERCENT IN EXCESS OF "THE GROSS ALLOWABLE WEIGHT.'

(6)IN OTHER RESPECTS THE VEHICLE OFFERED SEEMS TO MEET THE SPECIFICATION, AS FAR AS THE DATA IS AVAILABLE.

BIDS LISTED UNDER B AND C IN THE TABULATION FULLY MEET THE SPECIFICATION AND IT IS DESIRED TO ACCEPT BID LISTED UNDER B.

BID LISTED UNDER D ABOVE COVERS THE SAME TYPE AND MAKE OF CHASSIS AS BID LISTED UNDER A EXCEPT THAT IT INCLUDES A BODY MADE BY DIFFERENT BODY MAKER. THIS BID IS SUBMITTED BY ONE OF THE LOCAL DEALERS, WHILE BID A EMANATES FROM THE FACTORY OF THE CHASSIS OFFERED IN BOTH.

IN CONCLUSION, IT IS DESIRED TO STATE THAT INVITATIONS TO BID WERE SENT TO THE LIST OF PARTIES ATTACHED TO THE INCLOSED LETTER FROM THE CHIEF OF DIVISION OF SUPPLIES OF THIS DEPARTMENT, DATED MAY 17. THIS LIST INCLUDES THE MANUFACTURERS OF AND DEALERS IN A NUMBER OF OTHER CHASSIS WHO MIGHT HAVE SUBMITTED BIDS MEETING THE SPECIFICATION.

THE RULE WHICH HAS BEEN STATED IN NUMEROUS DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE AND AS TO WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN HERETOFORE ADVISED IS THAT UNDER EXISTING LAWS GOVERNING PURCHASES OF EQUIPMENT FOR THE GOVERNMENT, THE CONTROLLING ELEMENT IS THE JOB TO BE DONE--- THE WORK NECESSARY TO BE ACCOMPLISHED. THE REQUEST FOR BIDS SHOULD, BY SPECIFICATIONS OR OTHERWISE, FAIRLY REFLECT THE ACTUAL NEED, AND THE EQUIPMENT TO BE HAD AT THE LOWEST PRICE THAT WILL SERVE THE PURPOSE IS THAT AUTHORIZED TO BE PURCHASED AT PUBLIC EXPENSE.

WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE PURCHASE OF AUTOMOBILES, IT HAS BEEN UNIFORMLY HELD THAT FOR ORDINARY USES ALL MAKES AND GRADES ARE FOR CONSIDERATION IN DETERMINING WHICH WILL BEST MEET THE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE, AND THAT BIDS SHOULD BE REQUESTED ON SPECIFICATIONS DRAWN NOT BY DESIGNATION OF PARTICULAR MAKE, OR TO COVER MECHANICAL CONSTRUCTION OF A PARTICULAR MAKE, BUT SHOULD SHOW ONLY SUCH DETAILS AS TO CONSTRUCTION AND PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS AS CAN SATISFACTORILY BE SHOWN TO BE NECESSARY TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SERVICE. 5 COMP. GEN. 776, ID. 963.

THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS IN THIS CASE ADVISED PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS THAT A GASOLINE-DRIVEN TRUCK WITH A BODY USUALLY KNOWN AS A "STATION WAGON BODY" WAS NEEDED AND THAT IT MUST BE SUITABLE IN EVERY RESPECT FOR THE RAPID TRANSPORTATION OF PERSONNEL AND FREIGHT BETWEEN WIDELY SEPARATED POINTS AND OVER AVERAGE ROADS AND GROUNDS. THE SPECIFICATIONS SET FORTH THE CAPACITY, THE WHEEL BASE, FRAME, SPRINGS, PROVIDED FOR HYDRAULIC SHOCK ABSORBERS, DESCRIBED IN DETAIL THE MECHANICAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE ENGINE, IT BEING SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR "NOT LESS THAN THREE CRANKSHAFT MAIN BEARINGS FOR 4-CYLINDER ENGINE, NOR LESS THAN FOUR FOR 6-CYLINDER ENGINE.' IT WAS PROVIDED, ALSO, THAT THE WHEELS WERE TO BE STEEL SPOKE OR APPROVED EQUIVALENT SAME SIZE ALL AROUND AND SO CONSTRUCTED OR EQUIPPED AS TO PERMIT OF READY INSTALLATION OF SNAP-ON CHAINS, MUD-HOOKS, OR SIMILAR EQUIPMENT WITHOUT REQUIRING THE MOVING OF THE VEHICLE OR RAISING OF THE WHEEL FROM THE GROUND, AND THAT THE WINDSHIELD WAS TO BE OF "SHATTERPROOF GLASS.'

YOU WERE ADVISED IN MY LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 16, 1929, A-28287, WITH REFERENCE TO THE PURCHASE UNDER PROPOSAL 21391 (SEE ALSO DECISION OF MARCH 6, 1930, A-30478), THAT IN VIEW OF ALL THE FACTS REPRESENTED NO FURTHER QUESTION WOULD BE RAISED IN THAT CASE IN REGARD TO THE SPECIFICATIONS REQUIRING NONSHATTERABLE GLASS IN THE WINDSHIELD, AND THAT THE WHEELS BE SUCH EASY-ON CHAINS OR MUD HOOKS COULD BE ATTACHED WITHOUT RAISING THE WHEEL FROM THE GROUND; THIS UPON THE SHOWING THAT THE AUTOMOBILE WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR SEVERE USAGE, MUCH OF WHICH WOULD BE OVER ROUGH COUNTRY AND UNIMPROVED ROADS AND BECAUSE THE AUTOMOBILE HAVING SUCH FEATURES WAS THE LOWEST-PRICED AUTOMOBILE OFFERED.

IN CONSIDERING A SIMILAR SITUATION, THAT IS, WHERE IT WAS SPECIFIED THAT THE AUTOMOBILES MUST BE EQUIPPED WITH SHOCK ABSORBERS INSTEAD OF SOME OTHER GLASS, YOU WERE ADVISED IN MY DECISION OF MARCH 6, 1930,A 30578, THAT SUCH FEATURES SHOULD NOT BE CONTROLLING IF THE WORK REASONABLY COULD BE PERFORMED WITH AUTOMOBILES NOT HAVING SUCH FEATURES OR EQUIPMENT; THAT IS, THAT THE PROCEDURE SHOULD NOT BE ADOPTED OF SPECIFYING AS CONTROLLING A PARTICULAR NONESSENTIAL FEATURE OF AN AUTOMOBILE SUCH AS SHATTER-PROOF GLASS, SHOCK ABSORBERS, STYLE OF WHEELS, ETC., THEREBY EXCLUDING BIDDERS THAT DO NOT OFFER THE PARTICULAR FEATURE OR CAUSING SUCH BIDDERS TO CHANGE THEIR MODELS SO AS TO EMBRACE SUCH FEATURES, THEREBY INCREASING THE COST AND PREVENTING REAL COMPETITION.

THE SPECIFICATIONS IN THIS CASE NOT ONLY CONTAIN NONESSENTIAL FEATURES SUCH AS NOTED, SUPRA, BUT IT IS APPARENT THAT THEY WERE DRAWN IN DISREGARD OF THE PRINCIPLES HERETOFORE ANNOUNCED IN THE NUMEROUS DECISIONS TO YOU WITH REFERENCE TO THE PURCHASE OF AUTOMOBILES AND THE DRAWING UP OF SPECIFICATIONS TO ACCOMPANY THE REQUEST FOR BIDS.

THERE IS NOTED YOUR STATEMENT TO THE EFFECT "AS THIS VEHICLE WILL BE FREQUENTLY USED ON SIDE ROADS, OFF THE ROAD, AND ON FLYING AND OTHER FIELDS, IT IS REQUIRED THAT THIS CLAUSE OF THE SPECIFICATION BE MET.' THIS APPEARS TO BE IN CONFLICT WITH THAT PART OF THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS WHERE PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS WERE ADVISED THAT:

GENERAL.--- THIS SPECIFICATION COVERS A GASOLINE-DRIVEN TRUCK COMPLETE WITH A BODY OF THE TYPE USUALLY DESIGNATED AS "STATION WAGON BODY.' IT IS INTENDED AND SHALL BE IN EVERY RESPECT SUITABLE FOR USE IN THE RAPID TRANSPORTATION OF PERSONNEL AND FREIGHT BETWEEN WIDELY SEPARATED POINTS AND OVER AVERAGE ROADS AND GROUNDS.

THERE IS NOTED, ALSO, YOUR STATEMENT WITH REFERENCE TO SHATTER-PROOF GLASS AND THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE BUREAU OF STANDARDS WITH REFERENCE TO THE USE THEREOF. THIS, HOWEVER, HAS NO BEARING ON THE MATTER AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE NEEDS OF THE UNITED STATES DO IN FACT REQUIRE THAT THE AUTOMOBILE NEED BE SO EQUIPPED, AND IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH A SHOWING, IT IS CERTAINLY NO REASON FOR THE REJECTION OF A BID OFFERING AN AUTOMOBILE NOT SO EQUIPPED, BUT IN ALL OTHER RESPECTS MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE AUTOMOBILE IS FOR THE USE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, BUREAU OF STANDARDS; THAT THE NEEDS OF THE SERVICE REQUIRE IT TO BE OF SUFFICIENT POWER, DURABILITY, ETC., FOR USE IN RAPID TRANSPORTATION OF PERSONNEL AND FREIGHT BETWEEN WIDELY SEPARATED POINTS AND OVER AVERAGE ROADS AND GROUNDS. IN OTHER WORDS, THE NEED IS FOR ORDINARY EQUIPMENT AS DISTINGUISHED FROM THE EXTRAORDINARY. FURTHERMORE, IT APPEARS THAT THE LOW BID A, $619.02 LESS ALLOWANCE OF $60 FOR THE OLD CAR, NET PRICE $559.02, MEETS THE ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS AND WILL SATISFACTORILY PERFORM THE SERVICES REQUIRED. ANSWERING YOUR QUESTION SPECIFICALLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO ACCEPT THE BID LISTED UNDER B, SUPRA. ..END :



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