U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS WASHINGTON, DC 20401 In the Matter of ) ) the Appeal of ) ) MOZIP SIGN COMPANY ) Docket No. GPOBCA 03-97 Jacket No. 739-190 ) Print Order F-3227 ) For the Appellant: Mozip Sign Company, Kingston, Pennsylvania by John T. Moses, pro se. For the Respondent: Kerry L. Miller, Esq., Associate General Counsel, U.S. Government Printing Office. Before BERGER, Ad Hoc Chairman. DECISION AND ORDER Mozip Sign Company (Appellant), 41-43 Gates Avenue, Kingston, Pennsylvania, appeals the final decision of U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO or Respondent) Contracting Officer Gary C. Bush rejecting as unacceptable the 425,000 pocket calendar cards Mozip produced under Jacket 739-190, Purchase Order F-3227 and requiring Mozip to take appropriate corrective action. For the reasons that follow, the Board finds that the rejection was proper but that the Appellant is entitled to be paid for a portion of the quantity it reprinted in response to the Contracting Officer's decision. Accordingly, the appeal is DENIED IN PART AND GRANTED IN PART. I. BACKGROUND 1. The contract was awarded to Mozip on September 24, 1996 at a price of $13,812. The contract required delivery by October 15 of varying quantities totaling 422,000 to a using activity in each of the 50 states, plus a quantity of 3,000 to the Army National Guard at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Rule 4 File, Tab B.1 2. On November 12 the customer agency informed GPO that the calendars contained several defects-including hickies or spots, improper registration, and non-matching color-and could not be used. A reprint was requested. Rule 4 File, Tab C. 3. On November 25 the Contracting Officer telephonically advised the Appellant of the need for a reprint. The Appellant asked to see samples of the defective calendars. Rule 4 File, Tab D. 4. On November 26 a GPO procurement technician forwarded the requested samples to the Appellant, advising that "spots of blue and red are found throughout," "[c]olors are not registered on many of the cards and images are not consistent from card to card," and "[i]mages are bleeding off the edge of some cards." Rule 4 File, Tab E. These defects were reflected on a GPO inspection report also dated November 26. Rule 4 File, Tab F. 5. The Appellant, upon review of the samples furnished to it, did not agree that the calendars were defective, but when advised of the possibility of a termination for default agreed to reprint the calendars and then appeal. Rule 4 File, Tab G. The Contracting Officer's final decision, noting that the calendars were "delivered with spots, images bleeding and register problems" and directing delivery of the agreed-upon reprint by January 8, 1997, was issued on December 17. Rule 4 File, Tab H. The Appellant reprinted the calendars and then filed this appeal. II. DISCUSSION The basic dispute involved in this appeal is whether the original quantity of calendar cards was properly rejectable. The Appellant asserts that the calendars met the quality standards specified for this contract, while the Respondent's position is that they did not. Although no hearing was held in this case, the Board has been furnished both the samples examined by GPO and "random samples" from the Appellant. Not surprisingly, the samples furnished by the Appellant, while not perfect, look better than many of the samples examined and furnished by GPO. The contract incorporated by reference GPO's Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program, GPO Pub. 310.1, effective May 1979 (rev. April 1996). The QATAP is a GPO quality assurance program that provides for the use of objective measurements to determine whether printed products are defective. Printing Procurement Regulation, GPO Pub. 305.3 (rev. 10-90), Chap. XIII, Sec. 1, ¶ 3.a; Fry Communications, Inc., GPOBCA 30-94 (March 30, 1998), slip op. at 10, 1998 WL 350492. The QATAP, based on the use of 30 measurable properties which are referred to as quality attributes, provides for the assessment of a specified number of demerits when deficiencies are found and for categorization of the defects as either major or critical. This will vary depending upon the Product Quality Level (PQL) required for the contract.2 Whether a lot is acceptable or rejectable depends upon whether the major and critical defects identified through this process exceed the Acceptable Quality Level (AQL). The AQL is 1 critical defect per 100 items and 6.5 total defects. Products that exceed the AQL are not considered acceptable. QATAP manual at xi, 1. The Government is entitled to strictly enforce its contracts, but when it does so it bears the initial burden of pursuasion to show that the rejected work deviated from the specifications. When the Government meets that burden the contractor must then prove that the Government's testing or inspection results are incorrect. International Lithographing, GPOBCA 1-88 (December 29, 1989), slip op. at 20-21, 1989 WL 384986. If the contractor introduces sufficient evidence to call into question the Government's test or inspection results, the Government must then go forward with additional evidence or the issue of conformity with the specifications will be decided against it. Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., GPOBCA 02-93 (May 19, 1995), slip op. at 79-80, 1995 WL 488488. The Respondent met its initial burden here by furnishing both its inspection report, which indicates that a sample of 100 cards was examined and that 630 major defects and 15 critical defects were assessed, Rule 4 File, Tab F, and the cards that made up the inspected sample. The Appellant, referring to its own inspection of "random samples pulled during production at our plant and a random sampling of the pieces returned," responds that the defects it observed were within the QATAP tolerance levels for Product Quality Level IV. It also furnished a small number of the samples it inspected. The GPO inspection report is confusing. It identifies 490 major defects for Printing Attribute P-1, Hickies and Spots, and 140 major defects for Printing Attribute P-4, Register. There is no indication, however, of how these numbers were derived, and on their face they appear to be inconsistent with the QATAP manual. Under the QATAP, demerits are assigned for the printing attributes if specified tolerances are exceeded. If the average demerit level exceeds 4.0, a major defect for the item is assessed, although when the average demerit level does not exceed 4.0 a single major defect may be assessed for "a conspicuous single page defect." QATAP manual at xiii. For Printing Attribute P-1, the QATAP manual provides for an assessment of either 4 or 20 demerits for Level IV work depending upon the size and number of the hickies and spots. For Printing Attribute P-4, the manual provides for an assessment of 4, 20, or 100 demerits depending upon the misregister dimensions. The record is silent as to what the inspecting official found with respect to the size and number of hickies and spots and the misregister dimensions, as well as to the number of demerits assessed, and thus provides no foundation for the numbers in the inspection report. Moreover, the maximum number of major defects per printing attribute cannot exceed the number of items being inspected. Since there were 100 calendar cards in the sample, there could not be more than 100 major defects for each printing attribute. See Shephard Printing, GPOBCA 23-92 (April 29, 1993), slip op. at 17-18, 1993 WL 526848. Nonetheless, the Board is satisfied from the Respondent's submissions that the calendar cards were rejectable. The inspection report assesses 15 critical defects for Finishing Attribute F-17, Loss of Information. Loss of information is "any omission of or damage to the printed image which impairs the transmission of the intended information," and is a critical, rather than major, defect. QATAP manual at 44. Loss of information encompasses both missing words and missing color images. Fry Communications, Inc., supra, at 10-11. While the record does not establish the basis for the assessment of 15 defects for this attribute, it is clear from the Respondent's samples that more than one card contained this defect. For example, one side of one card is missing all the blue ink (the cards were printed in blue and red) printing, with the result that the months and year are not identified and a design image does not appear, while another card has the red ink printing reversed on one side so that the card, on that side, is not readily readable. Another card has an incomplete line of text. Since the AQL is 1 critical defect per hundred items and that AQL is exceeded here, the Board finds that, notwithstanding the questionable numbers in the inspection report, GPO could properly conclude from the inspection sample that the calendar cards were rejectable. See Shepard Printing, supra, at 19 et seq. This result is not called into question by anything submitted by the Appellant. Although the small sample furnished by the Appellant contains only cards that have far fewer spots than the cards in the Respondent's sample, and no cards that appear to suffer from loss of information or register problems, that in no way vitiates the result of GPO's inspection of the 100-card sample it utilized. So long as an appropriate sample is chosen for Government inspection and/or testing-and there is no challenge here to the legitimacy of the GPO sample-the Government is entitled to base its decision as to the acceptability of the tendered items on the results produced by that sample, regardless of what some other sample might show. See Mid-American Business Forms Corp., GPOBCA 8-87 (December 30, 1988), slip op. at 19, 1988 WL 363330. Accordingly, the Board concludes that the Appellant has not overcome the Respondent's evidence and that the Respondent has satisfied its burden to establish the rejectability of the calendar cards. That does not mean, however, that under the circumstances of this case the Appellant is not entitled to any additional compensation. Although GPO agreed with the customer agency that the entire lot of calendar cards was unacceptable, all the cards were not returned to the Appellant, even though the Contracting Officer's final decision stated that the "unacceptable order is available for pick up at the delivery point" and the Appellant attempted pick-up at each delivery location.3 According to the Appellant, only 48,500 of the 425,000 cards shipped were returned. The rest, according to the Appellant, were distributed and used for their intended purpose. The Appellant bases that statement on information it claims to have received by "calling random locations"; it also has provided the names of the individuals at six locations and set forth what they supposedly stated regarding their distributing and using the cards. Notwithstanding the rejectability of an entire quantity tendered and the propriety of a reprint requirement, when the Government retains and uses a quantity of items from the initial printing, the contractor is entitled to be paid for that quantity, although at a discounted price to reflect the defects in those items. Sterling Printing, Inc., GPOBCA 20-89 (March 28, 1994), slip op. at 45, 1994 WL 275104, recon. denied, July 5, 1994, 1994 WL 377592; International Lithographing, supra, at 25; see Daniels Press, Inc., GPOBCA 18-95 (September 23, 1998), slip op. at 7, 1998 WL ______ (Government reduced contract price for quantity of defective items it rejected but not for quantity of those items that were distributed and used); Vanier Graphics, Inc., GPOBCA 12-92 (May 17, 1994), slip op. at 19, 1994 WL 275102 (Government used a quantity of defective items and ordered a reprint only of the unused quantity); ABM/Ansley Business Materials v. General Services Administration, GSBCA 9367, 93-1 BCA ¶ 25, 246 (Government could not assert warranty claim for products used for their intended purpose). The Respondent here does not challenge the Appellant's statement as to the number of cards returned, although it does not concede the point, either. While the Board has no reason to doubt what the Appellant says, its unsworn submissions and notations of what it learned from six delivery locations fall short of sufficient evidence to allow the Board to conclude that in fact the Government retained and used the total quantity of cards that the Appellant says were not returned. Therefore, the Board will remand the matter to the Contracting Officer with instructions to attempt to resolve the matter and to negotiate an equitable adjustment representing an appropriately discounted amount for whatever quantity of cards-as determined by any information that is available to the Contracting Officer or as agreed to by the parties-were retained and used by the Government. III. ORDER For the foregoing reasons, the Contracting Officer's decision is AFFIRMED and the appeal is DENIED with respect to the rejectability of the initial printing of the calendar cards. The appeal is GRANTED with respect to the Appellant's entitlement to an equitable adjustment for the quantity of calendar cards from the initial printing that were retained and used by the Government. The matter is REMANDED to the Contracting Officer to determine, to the extent possible, the number of cards that were retained and used by the Government and to negotiate an equitable adjustment representing an appropriately discounted amount for the cards so retained and used. It is so Ordered. October 20, 1998 Ronald Berger Ad Hoc Chairman GPO Board of Contract Appeals _______________ 1 The Contracting Officer's appeal file, assembled pursuant to Rule 4 of the Board's Rules of Practice and Procedure, was delivered to the Board on March 5, 1997. It is referred to as the Rule 4 File, with an appropriate Tab letter also indicated. The Rule 4 File consists of eight tabs identified as Tab A through Tab H. 2 The QATAP identifies five PQLs, which are based on the intended use of the product and range from best quality (Level I) to functional quality (Level V). The quality level for each job is selected by the customer agency and "is chosen based on the fidelity of reproduction required, the desired aesthetic appearance, and the intended durability of the final product." QATAP manual at vii. This contract was assigned PQL IV. 3 The Appellant states that it issued United Parcel Service call tags for each delivery point and has furnished copies of those tags.