U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
   BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS
   WASHINGTON, D.C.  20401

In the Matter of                 )
                                 )
The Appeal of                    )
                                 )
MCDONALD & EUDY PRINTERS, INC.   )      Docket No. GPO BCA 06-91
Program 814-M                    )
Purchase Order 73022             )
Print Order 20336                )

   DECISION AND ORDER

   By letter dated October 9, 1990, McDonald & Eudy Printers,
   Inc. (Appellant or Contractor), 4509 Beech Road, Temple Hills,
   Maryland 20748, filed a timely appeal from the September 12,
   1990, final decision of Contracting Officer James R. White, of
   the U.S. Government Printing Office's (Respondent or GPO or
   Government) Printing Procurement Department, Washington, DC
   20401, rejecting the publications delivered under its contract
   identified as Program 814-M, Purchase Order 73022, Print Order
   20336, because they did not meet the standards for a Quality
   Level III job (R4 File, Tab L).1  Remarking in his final
   decision that even if the products had been accepted
   initially, the Government would have asked for a reprinting of
   the cover and two text pages, in order to correct a mistake in
   the specified ink color for the cover and an error in the
   Government-furnished material, the Contracting Officer offered
   to pay the Contractor $1,823.93 for that work (R4 File, Tab
   L).  For the reasons which follow, the decision of the
   Contracting Officer is hereby AFFIRMED, and the claim is
   ALLOWED to the extent of $1,823.93.  In all other respects,
   the appeal is DENIED.2

   I. FINDINGS OF FACT

   1. On December 5, 1989, the Respondent solicited bids for a
   multiple-award "requirements" contract, covering the period
   from February 1, 1990 through January 31, 1991, to produce and
   distribute three categories of various self and separate cover
   books and pamphlets, as requisitioned from GPO by other
   Government departments and agencies (R4 File, Tab A, pp. 1,
   7).

   2. Among other specifications, the Invitation for Bids (IFB)
   contained the following provisions, in pertinent part:

   SECTION 1-GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

      Any contract which results from this [IFB] will be subject
      to the applicable articles of GPO Contract Terms (Pub.
      310.2, effective December 1, 1987, Revised 9-88)
      [hereinafter GPO Contract Terms], and Quality Assurance
      Through Attributes Program, Revised September 1986 (GPO
      Pub. 310.1) [hereinafter QATAP].

   * * * * * * * * * *

      QUALITY ASSURANCE LEVELS AND STANDARDS: The following
      levels and standards shall apply to these specifications:

                  Approx.       Approx.   Product Quality    45%
                  Total      55% Total
      Levels:           Orders       Orders

      (a) Printing
         (Page Related)
         Attributes      Level III      Level IV
      (b) Finishing
         Attributes      Level III      Level IV

      Inspection Levels
      (from MIL-STD-105):

      (a) Non-destructive Tests-General
         Inspection Level I.
       (b) Destructive Tests-Special
         Inspection Level S-2.

   * * * * * * * * * *

      ORDERING: Items to be furnished under this contract shall
      be ordered by the issuance of print orders by the
      Government. . . . All print orders issued hereunder are
      subject to the terms and conditions of this contract.  This
      contract shall control in the event of conflict with any
      print order.

   * * * * * * * * * *

   SECTION 2-SPECIFICATIONS

      SCOPE: These specifications cover the production of various
      self and separate cover books and pamphlets requiring such
      operations as film making, printing, binding, packing, and
      distribution.

   * * * * * * * * * *

      TRIM SIZES:

      Various trim sizes will be ordered and paid for in their
      respective "Format" classification as follows:

      Format "A" will include any trim size up to an including
      5-1/2" x 8-1/2" (including album style) or a maximum unit
      size of 46.75 square inches.

      Format "B" will include any trim size over 5-1/2" x 8-1/2
      up to and including 8-1/4 x 10-3/4" (including album style)
      or a maximum unit size of 89 square inches.

      Format "C" will include any trim size over 8-1/4 x 10-3/4"
      up to and including 8-1/2 x 11" (including album style) or
      a maximum unit size of 94 square inches.

   * * * * * * * * * *

      PRINTING:

      The major portion of the work ordered under this contract
      will print in black ink.  However, an occasional order may
      require printing in color or colors other than, or in
      addition to black, on text, covers, and/or fold-ins.
      Process printing will not be required.

      An occasional order may require coating (after printing)
      the entire surface of cover pages 1 and 4 or all four
      covers with varnish or lacquer to prevent scratching or
      smearing.

      Match Pantone number as indicated on the print order.

   * * * * * * * * * *

      DEPARTMENTAL RANDOM COPIES (BLUE LABEL): All orders must be
      divided into equal sublots in accordance with the chart
      below.  A random sample must be selected from each sublot.
      Do not choose copies from the same general area in each
      sublot. . . . . These randomly selected samples must be
      packed separately and must be identified by a special [G]
      overnment-furnished blue label, which is to be affixed to
      each affected container. . . . The random inspection
      samples constitute part of the total quantity ordered, and
      no additional charge will be allowed.

                  Books

         Quantity             Number of
         Ordered             Sublots

         500-3,200               13
        3,201-10,000               20
       10,001-35,000               32
       35,001 and over            50

      These randomly selected copies must be packed separately
      and identified by a special government-furnished blue label
      affixed to each affected container.  The container and its
      contents shall be recorded separately on all shipping
      documents and sent in accordance with the distribution
      list.

   * * * * * * * * * *

      QUALITY ASSURANCE RANDOM COPIES: In addition to the
      Departmental Random Copies (Blue Label), the contractor may
      be required to submit quality assurance random copies to
      test for compliance against the specifications.  The print
      order will indicate the number of samples required, if any.
      When ordered, the contractor must divide the entire order
      lot into equal sublots and select a copy from a different
      general area of each sublot.  The contractor will be
      required to execute a statement furnished by GPO certifying
      that copies were selected as directed.  Copies will be paid
      for at the running rate quoted in the contractor's bid and
      their cost will not be a consideration for award.

See, R4 File, Tab A, pp. 2, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, and 15.

   3. The Appellant submitted an offer of $200,000.00, and was
   determined to be one of the successful low bidders.
   Thereafter, on February 1, 1990, the Respondent issued
   Purchase Order 73022 to the Contractor entitling it to receive
   work under this multiple-award "requirements" contract (R4
   File, Tab B).

   4. On May 18, 1990, GPO, on its own behalf, issued Print Order
   20336, dated May 11, 1990, to the Appellant for the production
   of 7,550 copies of QATAP (R4 File, Tab C).  Among other
   things, the Print Order specified that QATAP was a 76-page
   publication, with a Format "C" trim size; i.e., 8-1/2" x 11"
   (R4 File, Tab C).  The Appellant was expected to produce a
   QATAP meeting Quality Level III standards, and deliver it to
   GPO by June 1, 1990.  As for the printing instructions, the
   Contractor was told:

      Cover 1 Prints Reverse of PMS 4 Cool Gray Bleeding 3 Sides
      Plus PMS 285 Blue.  Close Registration.  Cover 4 Prints
      100% Solid PMS 4 Cool Gray.  Dull Varnish Covers 1 & 4
      After Printing.  [Original emphasis.]

   5. Thereafter, on May 21, 1990, the Respondent gave the
   Appellant an amended Print Order 20336, dated May 11, 1990 (R4
   File, Tab D).  The only change was in the number of copies
   ordered; i.e., GPO increased its order by 10,000 copies, so
   that now a total of 17,550 copies of QATAP was to be delivered
   by the Contractor (R4 File, Tab D).  However, GPO still wanted
   the initial quantity (7,550 copies) delivered by June 1, 1990,
   although the additional copies could be shipped by June 15,
   1990 (R4 File, Tab E).

   6. The Appellant shipped 7,550 copies of QATAP in accordance
   with the contract schedule.  However, when GPO inspected 20
   random samples from that first shipment on June 6, 1990, it
   discovered that the publication itself did not conform to
   QATAP standards (R4 File, Tab F).3  Specifically, the samples
   tested disclosed finishing attribute problems with respect to
   trim size (F-1) and missing pages (F-12) (R4 File, Tab F).
   Based this examination of the samples, GPO assessed 20 major
   defects-one (1) major defect for each sample copy-under QATAP
   for the trim size problem, and 3 critical defects for the
   missing pages (R4 File, Tab F).

   7. By letter dated June 7, 1990, the Respondent informed the
   Appellant of the inspection results, and told the Contractor
   that the order was being rejected because of the two quality
   assurance problems (R4 File, Tab G).  Furthermore, the
   Appellant was instructed to reprint the order "at no
   additional cost to the Government in strict accordance with
   the specifications." (R4 File, Tab G).  However, the Appellant
   was asked to make the following changes, which were unrelated
   to the defects found, in reprinting the publication:

      The product will be printed in PMS-8 Cool Gray instead of
      PMS-4 Cool Gray.  Page 3, Table of Contents, last line
      (Appendix C-Problem Index) will be corrected to read page
      51 instead of 50.4

(R4 File, Tab G).

   8. Following receipt of the Respondent's instructions, the
   Appellant made the required changes and delivered the
   reprinted publication (R4 File, Tab I).  Thereafter, by letter
   dated June 27, 1990, the Appellant formally objected to GPO's
   rejection of the initial shipment, stating in pertinent part:

      . . . [W]ith regard to the above print order which revealed
      defects under the following attributes:

            F-1:  Trim Size
            F-12: Missing Pages

      1. F-1: Trim size is the fault of Bindery Personnel at
      McDonald & Eudy who failed to maintain 8-1/2 x 11 trim size
      per specifications.

      2. F-12: Missing pages is the fault of Bindery Personnel at
      McDonald & Eudy who failed in the loss of a 4-page
      signature while gathering and stitching.

      Extenuating circumstances which McDonald & Eudy feels
      should be taken into consideration by G.P.O. are:

      1. Quality Control Samples were taken from the original
      order for 7,550, and not from the entire 17,500 which were
      requested at a later date. . . .

      2. All copies of the product were retrieved by McDonald &
      Eudy in order for Quality Control Personnel to examine for
      [the] defects listed above.  Examination and random
      sampling of the entire quantity by Quality Control
      Personnel at McDonald & Eudy resulted in the following
      determinations:

         A. (F-1: Trim Size): All books appear to be under-
         trimmed 1/8" under specifications.

         B. (F-12: Missing Pages): All books examined did not
         reflect missing pages.5

      3. McDonald & Eudy strongly feels that the order should not
      be determined rejectionable, and is a usable product.
      Further, McDonald & Eudy feels the GUIDE FOR EQUITABLE
      REDUCTIONS should be taken into consideration and is
      willing to negotiate a fair and equitable reduction.

      4. Regarding reprinting the product with changes to the
      original specifications . . . McDonald & Eudy feels that
      these changes made
      by G.P.O. are determining factors which resulted in the
      rejection and reprinting of the entire product.6

R4 File, Tab H, pp. 1-2.  [Emphasis added.]

   9.  The record also discloses that the Appellant telephoned
   the Respondent about this matter before reprinting QATAP (R4
   File, Tab I).  Apparently, the main purpose for the
   Contractor's call was to register its complaint that the 20
   samples inspected were not randomly selected, and were only
   drawn from the first shipment of 7,550 copies (R4 File, Tab
   I).  Therefore, on July 27, 1990, the Appellant selected
   another random sample of 32 copies and sent them to GPO for
   examination (R4 File, Tab I).7  Of those 32 samples, 20 were
   found to be under-trimmed by more than 1/8" and rejectable (R4
   File, Tabs I and J).8  Consequently, GPO once again assessed
   20 major defects for the trim size problem (R4 File, Tab J).

   10. On August 30, 1990, the Contracting Officer telephoned the
   Appellant and informed it of the results of the second
   inspection (R4 File, Tab K).  He also instructed the
   Contractor to destroy the rejected publications (R4 File, Tab
   K).  During this telephone conversation, the Appellant again
   stated that it had shipped a usable product (R4 File, Tab K).
   While the Contracting Officer did not agree, he offered to
   settle the matter by paying the Contractor $1,823.93 for
   reprinting the cover and two text pages of the rejected order
   (R4 File, Tab K).  The Appellant rejected this settlement
   proposal (R4 File, Tab K).

   11. Accordingly, at the request of the Appellant, the
   Contracting Officer issued a final decision on September 11,
   1990,  affirming his rejection of the first delivery of QATAPs
   because of the trim size problem, disallowing the claim for
   reimbursement, and renewing his offer to settle the dispute
   for $1,823.93 (R4 File, Tab L).  Addressing the Appellant's
   belief that rejection was not warranted because the
   publications were still usable, the Contracting Officer
   stated, in pertinent part:

      An examination of thirty-two (32) samples randomly selected
      by your company from the total order quantity of 17,550
      pamphlets revealed that twenty (20) copies did not meet the
      specified dimensions including all allowable tolerances for
      Acceptable Quality Level III.  In the aforementioned
      letter, you stated that an independent examination of
      samples by employees of your firm confirmed this finding.
      Since the products did not meet the minimum dimension
      requirements, your exception to the rejection is denied.

      All rejected copies may be disposed of at your discretion.

See, R4 File, Tab L, p. 1.

   12. Thereafter, by Notice of Appeal dated October 9, 1990, the
   Contractor appealed the Contracting Officer's final decision
   to the Board.

   II. ISSUES PRESENTED

   This appeal presents two issues for the Board's consideration:

      1. Did the Government erroneously reject the first printing
      of QATAPs because of defects it discovered during its
      inspection of random samples of the publication, thus
      entitling the Appellant to payment for that delivery?  Or,
      stated otherwise did the Contractor deliver a usable
      product which substantially complied with the trim
      specifications for QATAP so that the Contracting Officer's
      rejection of the shipment amounted to an abuse of his
      discretion?

      2. Did the Contracting Officer act in bad faith when he
      rejected the first shipment of QATAPs and insisted on a
      reprinting of the entire publication, rather than negotiate
      an appropriate reduced price with the Appellant and accept
      the delivery?


   III. POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES9


   Although the Appellant made the changes required by the
   Respondent and delivered an acceptable reprinted publication,
   it takes exception to the rejection of the initial shipment on
   the ground that those copies of QATAP "substantially
   conformed" to the original contract specifications.  RPC, pp.
   3, 5.  The Appellant contends that the trim size of the
   rejected books "appear to be" within tolerances for Quality
   Level III work, but even so any  difference with the required
   trim size is only slightly greater than the allowable
   deviation.  Complaint,  6, 7; RPC, p. 5.  In the
   Contractor's view, the discrepancy is so minor that total
   rejection of the original shipment was unjustified.  Id.
   Moreover, the Appellant says that despite this defect, the
   publication was still "usable" and should have been accepted
   by GPO, at a suitable discount.  RPC, pp. 3, 5.  Indeed, the
   Contractor asserts that any other agency but GPO would have
   accepted the publication under those conditions.  RPC, p. 5.
   Finally, the Appellant believes that the real reason the
   Respondent rejected the initial shipment was its wish to avoid
   additional costs for correcting the color and text errors in
   the original specifications, and not because of the minor
   defects found by GPO when samples of the QATAPs were
   inspected.  Complaint,  8, 9; RPC, pp. 3-4.  Accordingly,
   the Contractor asks the Board to allow its claim for
   $11,137.98 for the rejected publications.  Complaint, Prayer
   for Relief; RPC, p. 4.

   The Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the defects
   disclosed by the inspection of the initial shipment of QATAPs
   entitled the Contracting Officer to reject publications and
   have the entire order reprinted.  RPC, p. 4 (citing, GPO
   Contract Terms, Contract Clauses,  14(f) (Inspections and
   Tests)).  Consequently, contrary to the Appellant, GPO
   contends that the Government cannot be compelled to pay for
   and accept the rejected QATAPs under any circumstances.  RPC,
   pp. 4-5; R. Brf., p. 3.  The Respondent relies on the "black
   letter" principle of public contract law which states that the
   Government is entitled to enforce strict compliance with its
   specifications.10  R.Brf., p. 3 (citing, Jefferson
   Construction Company v. United States, 151 Ct.Cl. 75 (1960);
   Red Circle Corporation v. United States, 185 Ct.Cl. 1, 8
   (1968); American Electric Contracting Corporation v. United
   States, 579 F.2d 602 (Ct.Cl. 1978); Dependable Printing, Inc.,
   GPO BCA 5-84 (1985)).  As the Respondent notes, the "strict
   compliance" doctrine has been applied in numerous cases by the
   Board and its predecessor ad hoc panels.11  R.Brf., p. 4
   (citing, Copigraph, Inc., GPO BCA 20-86; Fry Communications,
   Inc., GPO BCA 1-87; Vogard Printing Corporation, GPOCAB
   7-84).  Under this rule, the procuring agency has complete
   discretion to reject nonconforming supplies or accept them at
   a discount.  Id. (citing, Famous Model Company, Inc., ASBCA
   No. 12525, 68-1 BCA  6,902).  This means that the agency
   cannot be compelled to accept nonconforming supplies at a
   discount, even if the discrepancies are relatively minor or
   the defective articles perform as specified.  Id. (citing,
   Herley Industries, Inc., ASBCA Nos. 15378, 15840, 72-2 BCA 
   9,749, mot. for reconsid. denied, 73-1 BCA  9,922; Cherry
   Meat Packers, Inc., ASBCA No. 8974, 1963 BCA  3,937; Arrow
   Lacquer Corporation, ASBCA No. 4667, 58-2 BCA  2003).  The
   Respondent believes that not only was the Contracting Officer
   allowed to reject the nonconforming QATAPs in this case, but
   since the book in question is the "bible" of GPO's quality
   assurance program, he was right to do so because a less than
   perfect Quality Level III job would have proved embarrassing
   to the agency.  R. Brf., pp. 4-5.

   Finally, the Respondent argues that the Appellant's assertion
   that GPO rejected the first delivery of QATAPs in order to
   make corrections at no cost to the Government, really accuses
   the Contracting Officer of acting in bad faith.  R. Brf., p.
   5.  GPO observes that in order to support this allegation, the
   Appellant must prove that the Contracting Officer specifically
   intended to injure the Contractor.  Id. (citing, American
   General Leasing v. United States, 218 Ct.Cl. 367, 374-75, 587
   F.2d 54, 59 (1979); Kalvar Corporation, Inc. v. United States,
   211 Ct.Cl. 192, 199, 543 F.2d 1298, 1302 (1976); Librach v.
   United States, 147 Ct.Cl. 605, 612-14 (1959)).  In that
   regard, the law presumes that public officials act
   conscientiously and in good faith in the discharge of their
   duties.12  Id. (citing, Contract Custom Drapery Service v.
   United States, 6 Cl.Ct. 811,817 (1984)).  It takes "well-nigh
   irrefragable" proof of bad faith to overcome that
   presumption.13  Id. (citing, Union Pacific Railroad Company v.
   United States, 847 F.2d 1567, 1571 (Fed. Cir. 1988); Sanders
   v. United States, 801 F.2d 1328, 1331 (Fed. Cir. 1986);
   American General Leasing v. United States, supra, 218 Ct.Cl.
   at 374).  The Respondent contends that no such evidence exists
   in this case.  R. Brf., pp. 5-6.  Accordingly, for all of
   these reasons, the Respondent urges the Board to affirm the
   final decision.  R. Brf., p. 6.

   IV. CONCLUSIONS14

   The two questions presented in this appeal are not unique or
   novel in the annals of the Board.  The Board and the former ad
   hoc panels have considered the same or similar issues in
   numerous cases in the past; indeed, QATAP questions are among
   the most common issues presented to the Board for resolution.
   As a consequence, the principal issue in this case could be
   decided on the basis of GPO precedent alone.  Having
   thoroughly examined those prior decisions, and consistent with
   them, the Board makes the following findings of fact and
   conclusions of law:

      A. The Respondent wanted and ordered copies of QATAP with a
      specified trim size.  The Appellant admits that all of the
      books in the initial shipment were under-trimmed by 1/8".
      Therefore, the Respondent had a contract right to reject
      the first printing of QATAP, and have the publication
      reprinted at no cost to the Government.  Whether or not the
      initial product was usable because the under-trim was
      minor, as contended by the Contractor, is irrelevant.


   The first issue presented by this appeal is whether or not the
   Appellant ought to bear the costs of reprinting and redelivery
   of a printed product produced by it after rejection of the
   original product for failure to meet specifications because it
   was under-trimmed.15  Cf., French/Bray, Inc., GPO BCA 18-85
   (October 23, 1986), Sl. op. at 10.  The answer to that
   question can be found in the relevant provisions of GPO
   Contract Terms and QATAP, or in other words, in the very terms
   and conditions of the contract itself.  First, GPO Contract
   Terms provides, in pertinent part:

      14. Inspection and Tests.

   * * * * * * * * * *

      (b) The contractor shall provide and maintain an inspection
      system acceptable to the GPO covering supplies under the
      contract and shall tender to the Government for acceptance
      only supplies that have been inspected in accordance with
      the inspection system and have been found by the contractor
      to be in conformity with contract requirements. . . .16

      (c) The Government has the right to inspect and test all
      supplies called for, to the extent practicable, at all
      places and times, including the period of manufacture, and
      in any event before acceptance.  The Government shall
      perform inspections and tests in a manner that will not
      unduly delay performance and assumes no contractual
      obligation to perform any inspection and test for the
      benefit of the contractor unless specifically set forth
      elsewhere.

   * * * * * * * * * *

      (f) The Government has the right either to reject or to
      require correction of nonconforming supplies.  Supplies are
      nonconforming when they are defective in material or
      workmanship or are otherwise not in conformity with
      requirements.  The Government may reject nonconforming
      supplies with or without disposition instructions.

   * * * * * * * * * *

      (j) The Government shall accept or reject supplies as
      promptly as practicable after delivery, unless otherwise
      provided.  Government failure to inspect and accept or
      reject the supplies shall not relieve the contractor from
      responsibility, nor impose liability on the Government, for
      nonconforming supplies.

      (k) Inspections and tests by the Government do not relieve
      the contractor of responsibility for defects or other
      failures to meet requirements before acceptance.

GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses,  14 (Inspection and
Tests).  [Emphasis added.]  For all intents and purposes, the
above-quoted language forms part of the standard inspection
clause found in most Government contracts.  Cf., Mid-American
Business Forms Corporation, GPO BCA 8-87 (December 30, 1988),
Sl. op. at 18.  As the Board has indicated on numerous occasions,
such clauses are premised on the fundamental rule that the
Government is entitled to strictly enforce compliance with its
specifications.  See, e.g., Shepard (1993), supra, Sl. Op. at
19-20 (citing, Mega Construction Company, Inc. v. United States,
25 Cl.Ct. 735, 741 (1992); Wholesale Tire and Supply Company,
Ltd., ASBCA No. 42502, 92-2 BCA  24,960); Stephenson, Inc.,
supra, Sl. op. at 20-21 (citing, Rose Printing Company, GPO BCA
2-87 (June 9, 1989), Sl. op. at 6; Fry Communications, Inc.,
supra, Sl. op. at 5; Mid-American Business Forms Corporation,
supra, Sl. op. at 18-19); Copigraph, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 2
(citing, S.S. Silberblatt, Inc. v. United States, 193 Ct.Cl. 269,
433 F.2d 1314 (1970)); Land & Land Printers, Inc., GPO BCA 5-86
(July 22, 1988), Sl. op. at 7.

   The principles of law which apply in this case, enunciated by
   the Board, in detail, in Automated Datatron, where it said, in
   pertinent part:

      1. The Government is generally entitled to require strict
      compliance with its contract specifications, including
      those of fixed-price supply contracts, Jefferson
      Construction Co. v. United States, 151 Ct.Cl. 75 (1960);
      Red Circle Corporation v. United States, 185 Ct.Cl. 1, 8
      (1968); American Electric Contracting Corp. v. United
      States, 579 F.2d 602, 608 (Ct.Cl. 1978); Dependable
      Printing Company, Inc., GPO BCA 5-84 (1985), and can
      enforce this right at any time prior to final acceptance,
      Maizel Laboratories, Inc., ASBCA [No.] 8597, 1963 BCA 
      3898, stated at 19,351.  Strict compliance is especially
      appropriate where the specifications are clear,
      unambiguous, and objectively ascertainable by the
      contractor, Herley Industries, Inc., [ASBCA Nos. 15378,
      15840], 72-2 BCA  9,749, mot. for reconsid. denied, 73-1
      BCA  9,922; Arrow Lacquer Corporation, [ASBCA No. 4667],
      58-2 BCA  2,002. . . .

      Specifications are designed to elicit and define the
      essential qualities necessary in the procurement of a
      product.  Strict compliance or conformance with
      specifications or contract requirements means that the
      Government has a right to get exactly what it asked for in
      the solicitation for contractual performance.  Nichols &
      Co. v. United States, 156 Ct.Cl. 358 (1962), cert denied,
      371 U.S. 959 (1963); Rohr Industries, Inc., [ENGBCA No.
      4058], 82-1 BCA  15,732.  Thus, a contractor must comply
      with the Government's requirements and cannot substitute
      its views for those of the Government, Maxwell Dynomometer
      Co. v. United States, 386 F.2d 855 (Ct.Cl. 1967), even if
      the substitution would result in a superior product.
      Nichols & Co. v. United States, supra.  Likewise, a
      contractor's view that a particular specification's high
      tolerance was not needed is irrelevant, even if the view is
      proven correct and the specification in question is found
      to add nothing to the value of the product involved.
      Gramercy Machine Corp. v. United States, 228 Ct.Cl. 825
      (1981), [affirming] 74-1 BCA  10,611.

      2. Inspection is the Government's primary means of ensuring
      that it receives what it bargained for.  2 B. Nash & J.
      Cibinic, Federal Procurement Law, 1552 (1980).  However,
      inspection is not meant to replace the contractor's
      required quality controls.  [Footnote omitted.]  The right
      to inspect is clearly for the benefit of the Government and
      creates no Government duty to inspect.  Kaminer
      Construction Corp. v. United States, 488 F.2d 980 (Ct.Cl.
      1973); Penguin Industries, Inc. v. United States, 530 F.2d
      934 (Ct.Cl. 1976).  [Footnote omitted.] . . .

      3. Strict compliance can be enforced either by rejecting
      the defective product or, if for reasons of economy or
      urgency acceptance [it] is in the Government's best
      interest, by requiring a price reduction for nonconforming
      work.  The Government is not required to accept
      nonconforming supplies, and the right to refuse the product
      is the prerogative of the procuring agency.  Famous Model
      Co., ASBCA No. 12526, 68-1 BCA  6,902.  Therefore, a
      contractor has no contractual right to force the Government
      to accept defective products at a reduced price, even if
      the defects are relatively minor, Cherry Meat Packers,
      Inc., ASBCA No. 8974, 1963 BCA  3,937, notwithstanding the
      fact that on occasion a Board of Contract Appeals might
      hold, as a matter of its delegated administrative
      discretion was too minor to warrant spending significant
      additional funds by the Government for its correction.
      Bruce-Anderson Co., Inc., [ASBCA Nos. 28125, 28126, 28127,
      83-2 BCA  [16,892] at 84,057.  See also John McShain, Inc.
      v. United States, 412 F.2d 1281 (Ct.Cl. 1969).

Automated Datatron, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 2-5.

   The sine qua non of "strict compliance" is a finding by, the
   Contracting Officer that the delivered product does not
   conform to the specifications.17  See, Dependable Printing
   Company, supra, Sl. op. at 24; Excell Products, GPOCAB 8-81
   (November 3, 1982), Sl. op. at 7-8; Gem Business Forms, Inc.,
   GPOCAB 5-81 (August 29, 1981), Sl. op. at 4-5; Stevens
   Graphic, Inc., GPOCAB 4-81 (March 22, 1982), Sl. op. at 7.
   Indeed, the Contracting Officer's discretion to decide whether
   a product is conforming or nonconforming is inherent in
   his/her administration of the contract.  Vogard Printing
   Corporation, supra, Sl. op. at 6 (citing, Thomas W. Yoder
   Company, Inc., VACAB No. 997, 74-1 BCA  10,424 (1974));
   Excell Products, supra, Sl. op. at 7-8; Gem Business Forms,
   Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 4-5.  In the absence of any claim by a
   contractor that the contract is ambiguous or imprecise, or
   that the Contracting Officer acted arbitrarily or
   capriciously, the Board will not disturb the finding that the
   delivered supplies failed to conform to contract
   specifications.18  See, Mid-American Business Forms
   Corporation, supra, Sl. op. at 19; The Standard Register
   Company, GPO BCA 4-86 (October 28, 1987), Sl. op. at 15;
   Product of Information Systems, GPO BCA 7-85 (November 25,
   1986),
Sl. op. at 8-9: Excell Products, supra, Sl. op. at 8.  In this
case, there is no claim or evidence that the contract terms were
ambiguous or imprecise.  See, Dependable Printing Company, supra,
Sl. op. at 24.  Instead, as discussed infra, the Appellant seems
to be implying that somehow the Contracting Officer's insistence
on strict adherence to the contract was arbitrary or capricious.
Cf., Excell Products, supra, Sl. op. at 7-8, Gem Business Forms,
Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 4-5.

   Generally, where the Government insists on strict compliance,
   it bears the initial "burden of persuasion" to show that the
   work it rejects does, in fact, deviate from the
   specifications.  See, e.g., International Lithographing, GPO
   BCA 1-88 (December 29, 1989), Sl. op. at 20 (citing, Fillip
   Metal Cabinet Company, GSBCA No. 7,695, 87-2 BCA  19,822
   (1987); Ramar Company, ASBCA No. 16060, 72-2 BCA  9644; Pams
   Products, Inc., ASBCA No. 15,847, 72-1 BCA  9,401 (1972);
   Hardeman-Monier-Hutcherson, ASBCA No. 11785, 67-1 BCA  6210);
   Mid-American Business Forms Corporation, supra, Sl. op. at
   18-19; Stabbe Senter Press, supra, Sl. op. at 48-49.  See
   also, ABM/Ansley Business Materials, GSBCA No. 9367, 93-1 BCA
    25,246, at 127,747 (citing, Mutual Maintenance Company,
   GSBCA 7496, 85-2 BCA  18,098).  The Government usually meets
   this burden by advising the contractor of the results of the
   inspection it has conducted.  The burden then shifts to the
   contractor to prove that the Government's findings are invalid
   for one reason or another.  See, e.g., International
   Lithographing, supra, Sl. op. at 21 (citing, Universal Steel
   Stripping Co., ASBCA No. 13,686, 69-2 BCA  7,799 (1969); C.
   W. Roen Construction Co., DOTCAB Nos. 75-43, 75-43A, 76-2 BCA
    12,215 (1976); Continental Chemical Corp., GSBCA No. 4483,
   76-2 BCA  11,948 (1976)).  See also, Riverport Industries,
   Inc., ASBCA Nos. 28089, 28090, 28091, 29577, 86-2 BCA 
   18,835, at 94,920, mot. for reconsid. denied, 86-3 BCA 
   19,050.

   Under the QATAP, finishing attributes, such as trim size, are
   measured by inspecting individual copies of publications, and
   classifying each deviation from specifications as either a
   critical defect or major defect, in accordance with the
   tolerance table for that attribute.19  See, QATAP, p. 3
   (Finishing Attributes).  In that regard, QATAP tells us that a
   major defect must be assessed on a Quality Level III job if
   the trim size deviation is "greater than 1/8["] (3.2 mm)."
   Id., p. 28 (F-1. Trim Size).  The Respondent's evidence, which
   includes copies of the two relevant inspection reports, shows
   that the trim deviation in the samples it inspected was more
   than 1/8", or greater than the allowable tolerance (R4 File,
   Tabs I and J).  Consequently, it was incumbent on the
   Appellant to present evidence that the Government's findings
   were erroneous.  See, e.g., International Lithographing,
   supra, Sl. op. at 21.  However, the Contractor's merely says
   that its own inspection of the rejected books disclosed that
   they were "under-trimmed 1/8" under specifications[.]"
   (Complaint,  4; R4 File, Tab H; RPC, p. 5).  Although the
   implication in this response is that the under-trimming was
   not greater than 1/8", there is no documentation to support
   it.  Therefore, on this record, the Appellant's case that the
   under-trimmed books were still within allowable tolerances is
   essentially an unverified assertion.  Argumentation alone will
   not sustain the Contractor's burden of proof.20  Cf., Hurt's
   Printing Company, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 29 (citing, Reese
   Manufacturing, Inc., ASBCA No. 35144, 88-1 BCA  20,358).  It
   is well settled that unsubstantiated assertions are not
   sufficient proof to permit recovery.  Cf., Banta Company,
   supra, Sl. op. at 52; Fry Communications, Inc./InfoConversion
   Joint Venture, GPO BCA No. 9-85, Decision on Remand (August 5,
   1991), Sl. op. at 33, fn. 31, (citing, Fry Communications,
   Inc./InfoConversion Joint Venture v. United States, 22 Cl.Ct.
   497, 510 (1991));  Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 57.
   See also, Singleton Contracting Corporation, GSBCA No. 8548,
   90-2 BCA  22,748; Tri-State Services of Texas, Inc., ASBCA
   No. 38019, 89-3 BCA  22,064)); Gemini Services, Inc., ASBCA
   No. 30247, 86-1 BCA  18,736.

   The Appellant offers two reasons why it is still entitled to
   payment despite the failure of its initial shipment to pass an
   acceptance inspection; i.e., (1) the product it delivered
   "substantially conformed" to the contract specifications (RPC,
   p. 5), and (2) even though the first QATAPs were under-
   trimmed, they were still usable (Complaint,  7; R4 File, Tab
   H, p. 2,  3).21  The Board has carefully considered both of
   these contentions, and believes they are without merit.

   The "substantial compliance" or "substantial conformity" rule
   is a limited exception, created by law, to the doctrine which
   entitles the Government to strict compliance with its
   specifications.  See, Sterling Printing, Inc., supra, Sl. op.
   35-36, fn. 48; Hurt's Printing Company, Inc., supra, Sl. op.
   at 17; Shepard (1993), supra, Sl. Op. at 20.  The rule, which
   is confined to situations where a contractor has timely
   shipped nonconforming goods which deviate from the
   specifications in only minor respects, affords defaulting
   contractors an opportunity to correct such defects.  See,
   Radiation Technology, Inc. v. United States, supra, 366 F.2d
   1005-06.  In order for the doctrine to apply to a particular
   shipment of nonconforming goods, the contractor must show
   that: (1) a timely delivery of goods was made; (2) he/she
   reasonably believed, in good faith, that the supplies
   conformed to the contract when shipped and that they would be
   acceptable; (3) the defects are minor in nature; and (4) they
   are capable of correction within a reasonable period of
   time.22  Id., 366 F.2d at 1006.  See also, Industrial Data
   Link Corporation, ASBCA No. 31570, 91-1 BCA  23,382, AT
   117,340; Accutherm, Inc., ASBCA No. 24140, 80-2 BCA  14,748;
   Kessel Kitchen Equipment Company, Inc., ASBCA No. 21080, 77-2
   BCA  12,565.  The Radiation Technology rule only protects
   contractors who can satisfy all elements of the test.  See,
   Sterling Printing, Inc., supra, Sl. op. 35-36, fn. 48; Hurt's
   Printing Company, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 17.  See generally,
   Cibinic and Nash, pp. 680-84.

   In the Board's view, the Appellant's reliance on the
   "substantial compliance" rule in the context of this case, is
   clearly misplaced for two reasons.  First, the doctrine is
   generally found as a defense in, and is usually confined to,
   default termination cases.  See, e.g., Franklin E. Penny Co.
   v. United States, 524 F.2d 668, 677 (Ct.Cl. 1975) (". . . the
   purpose of the substantial performance doctrine is to avoid
   the harshness of a forfeiture, . . .").23   See also, Sterling
   Printing, Inc., supra, Sl. op. 35-36, fn. 48; Hurt's Printing
   Company, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 17; Shepard (1993), supra,
   Sl. op. at 19-24; Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 48-54;
   Timsco, Inc., GPOCAB 10-78 (July 24, 1979), Sl. op. at 10.
   However, this matter was appealed to the Board because the
   Contracting Officer disallowed the Appellant's monetary claim
   for reimbursement for the rejected QATAPs, which makes this
   case an equitable adjustment dispute.  The Appellant's
   contract was not defaulted; indeed, with the Government's
   acceptance of the reprinted publications, it has been fully
   performed.  Consequently, the condition precedent for the
   application of the rule is simply not present in this case.

   Second, even in cases where the "substantial conformity"
   doctrine is applied, it does no more than afford defaulting
   contractors an opportunity to correct minor deviations from
   the contract specifications.  Cf., Radiation Technology, Inc.
   v. United States, supra, 366 F.2d 1005-06; Hurt's Printing
   Company, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 17; Shepard (1993), supra,
   Sl. op. at 20; B. P. Printing and Office Supplies, GPO BCA
   22-91 (February 5, 1993), Sl. op. at 12; ATC Decal Company,
   GPOCAB 3-81 (July 14, 1981), Sl. op. at 7.  Offering the
   defaulting contractor a chance to cure the defects by
   reprinting the publication will satisfy the requirements of
   the rule.  Cf., Sterling Printing, Inc., supra, Sl. op. 35,
   fn. 47; Shepard (1993), supra, Sl. op. at 14; Mid-American
   Business Forms Corporation, supra, Sl. op. at 20; ATC Decal
   Company, supra, Sl. op. at 7.  Thus, the Appellant has already
   received the remedy which it would have gotten by force of
   law, and there is no basis for invoking the doctrine in this
   case.  Cf., Shepard (1993), supra, Sl. op. at 14, 23 (citing,
   Electro-Neutronics, Inc., ASBCA No. 12947, 71-2 BCA  8,961).

   Of more weight is the Appellant's argument that even though
   the first QATAPs were under-trimmed, they were still usable,
   and the Contractor should be paid for them.  As a factual
   matter, it must be noted that the Contracting Officer
   instructed  the Contractor to destroy all defective copies of
   the publication, so the Respondent never actually used them
   (R4 File, Tabs K and L).  Cf., International Lithographing,
   supra, Sl. op. at 25.  Also cf., Process Technology
   International, Inc., ASBCA No. 41650, 93-3 BCA  25,962; G.
   Scofield and Sons (Rural) Pty., Ltd., ASBCA No. 24290, 85-1
   BCA  17,843; Marshall Construction Corporation of South
   Carolina, ASBCA Nos. 26948, 27103, 84-1 BCA  17,031, at
   84,815; Service Management Corporation, EBCA No. 289-5-83
   (OTA), 84-2 BCA  17,319; Kipco Machine Tool, Inc., ASBCA No.
   26448, 83-2 BCA  16,661.  However, the Appellant believes
   that while the books were not the correct size, the trimming
   was nonetheless within QATAP tolerances, and it was error for
   the Contracting Officer to reject the shipment altogether;
   i.e., he should have accepted the publications at a discount.
   See, R4 File, Tab H, p. 2,  3; RPC, p. 5.  In effect, the
   Appellant's argument amounts to a claim that the Contracting
   Officer abused his discretion in his application of QATAP
   under the facts of this case.  The Board disagrees.

   Under the inspection clause of GPO Contract Terms and QATAP,
   both of which are incorporated by reference in the disputed
   contract, three options are available to GPO when, as here,
   nonconforming publications are delivered: (1) have the
   defective publications corrected; (2) have them reprinted or
   otherwise replaced; or (3) accept the publications with an
   equitable reduction in the contract price.24  See,  QATAP, p.
   2 (Determining Acceptability); GPO Contract Terms, Contract
   Clauses,  14(f) (Inspection and Tests).  Which course of
   action should be chosen under the circumstances is the
   prerogative of the Contracting Officer, and no one else's.
   Automated Datatron, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 4-5 (citing,
   Famous Model Co., supra, 68-1 BCA  6,902; Cherry Meat
   Packers, Inc., supra, 1963 BCA  3,937); Media Press
   Lithographers, [No Panel Number] Jacket Nos. 667-095, 667-097,
   667-098, 667-099. 667-100 (December 30, 1979), Sl. op. at 6-7
   (citing, Farwell Company v. United States, 148 F.Supp. 947,
   137 Ct.Cl. 831, 832 (1957); Ideal Restaurant Supply, Inc.,
   supra, 67-1 BCA  6237); Henry C. Beck Company, VACAB No. 523,
   66-1 BCA  5323.

   Despite the broad powers given GPO Contracting Officers, the
   Board has the authority to review their administration of
   QATAP, and overrule those discretionary actions which are
   clearly erroneous.  See, e.g., Shepard (1993), supra, Sl. op.
   at 18-19; Total Reproductions, Inc., GPO BCA 16-88 (February
   2, 1990), Sl. op. at 17-19.  See also, D. G. Machinery and
   Gage Company, NASA BCA No. 92, 65-1 BCA  4,771.  However, it
   is also well established that the findings and determinations
   of contracting officers are considered prima facie correct,
   and the contractor bears the burden of proof on appeal to show
   wherein the decision is in error.  Remco Business Systems,
   Inc., [No Panel Number] Jacket No. 237-286 (October 5, 1977),
   Sl. op. at 2-3 (citing, Norm Evans Construction Company, AGBCA
   No. 341, 75-1 BCA  11,229; D. G. Machinery and Gauge Company,
   supra, 65-1 BCA  4,771).  If the record, on its face, is
   neither unbelievable nor erroneous, the Board must accept it
   as being correct.  Id., Sl. op. at 3.  In this case, the
   Appellant has not shown, nor does the record contain, any
   evidence which would support a finding that the Contracting
   Officer's exercise of discretion was unreasonable, arbitrary,
   capricious, or so grossly erroneous, as to be suspect.  See,
   McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., GPO BCA 9-88 (March 8, 1990),
   Sl. op. at 11-12 (Respondent's Answer adopted by the Board,
   and cases cited therein); Remco Business Systems, Inc., supra,
   Sl. op. at 3.

   What this case boils down to is the Respondent wanted the
   copies of QATAP to be a specific trim size, and the Appellant,
   by its own admission, delivered a publication which was under-
   trimmed. Since the publication was not what GPO had asked for,
   the Government did not have to accept it.  See, e.g., Shepard
   (1993), supra, Sl. Op. at 19-20; Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl.
   op. at 20-21 Rose Printing Company, supra, Sl. op. at 6;
   Automated Datatron, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 2; Mid-American
   Business Forms Corporation, supra, Sl. op. at 18-19);
   Copigraph, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 2.
The Appellant does not claim that the contract's trim requirement
could not be met; indeed, the reprinted QATAPs satisfied the
specifications.  Instead, the Contractor contends that a 1/8"
variance did not affect the usability of the first copies it
delivered.  However, the fact that the defective QATAPs may have
been usable does not excuse the Contractor's failure to meet
achievable contract requirements.  See, H. Hertzberg & Son, Inc.,
GSBCA No. 4144, 76-2 BCA  12,011.  See also, Union Chemical
Company, GSBCA No. 7392, 85-3 BCA  18,489; Newark Boneless Meat
Products, Inc., ASBCA No. 22132, 78-2 BCA  13,229.

   The Government was not obligated to grant deviations from
   contract requirements, and the decision of whether or not to
   grant such an exception was within the sound discretion of the
   Contracting Officer.  See, Kurz-Kasch, Inc., ASBCA No. 32486,
   88-3 BCA  21,053.  Furthermore, under the terms of the
   contract, the Respondent was entitled to obtain replacement of
   nonconforming supplies.  QATAP, p. 2 (Determining
   Acceptability); GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses,  14(f)
   (Inspection and Tests).  Cf., Andrews, Large & Whidden, Inc.,
   and Farmville Manufacturing Co., ASBCA No. 30060, 88-2 BCA 
   20,542 (citing, Corporate Diesel, Inc., ASBCA No. 17134, 74-1
   BCA  10,612; Sovereign Construction Co., Ltd., GSBCA No. 913,
   1964 BCA  4,468).  If GPO elects to allow a contractor to
   correct the product, either by reprinting it or otherwise, the
   contractor is required to correct the defects and complete
   delivery.  In such cases, the contractor is not entitled to
   additional compensation because the work it was directed to do
   was clearly part of the contract requirements.  See, Queens
   Lithographing Corporation, GPOCAB 9-77 (March 30, 1979), Sl.
   op. at 10 (citing, Montgomery Ross Fischer, Inc., GSBCA No.
   2849, 70-1 BCA  8,127; W. M. Schlosser Company, Inc., GSBCA
   No. 2009, 66-1 BCA  5,796).  Accordingly, the Board finds and
   concludes that under the circumstances of this case, the
   Respondent was entitled to enforce strict compliance with its
   trim specifications for QATAP.  See, e.g., Stephenson, Inc.,
   supra, Sl. op. at 20-21; Fry Communications, Inc., supra, Sl.
   op. at 5; Rose Printing Company, supra, Sl. op. at 6; Mid-
   American Business Forms Corporation, supra, Sl. op. at 18-19);
   Copigraph, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 2.  Thus, the Appellant's
   contention that the first printing of QATAPs, which it admits
   was under-trimmed, was nonetheless usable because the defect
   was minor, is irrelevant.  Therefore, the Contracting Officer
   did not commit error when he rejected the first printing, and
   had the publication reprinted at no cost to the Government.

      B. The Contracting Officer did not act in bad faith when he
      rejected the first shipment of QATAPs and insisted on a
      reprinting of the entire publication, rather than negotiate
      an appropriate reduced price with the Appellant and accept
      the delivery.

   Relying on the fact that the Contracting Officer's direction
   to reprint the publication was accompanied by instructions to
   make certain changes in the color of the cover ink and correct
   an error in the text, the Appellant also alleges that those
   alterations, and not the defects found in the first shipment,
   is the real reason GPO rejected the QATAPs and asked for a
   reprint (R4 File, Tabs G, H and K).  The Contractor believes
   that by refusing to negotiate a suitable price reduction in
   lieu of requiring a reprint, the Contracting Officer:

      10. . . . did not display impartiality but rather was still
      working in the best interest of the Government, using the
      trim size discrepancy as the only criteria for rejection
      and not giving any consideration to negotiate a settlement
      that would have been in the best interest of all parties.

      11. A contracting officer is required to make an unbiased
      and impartial judgment on the merits of the claim when
      issuing a final decision.  This was not done in this case
      because it was in the best interest of the Government to
      reject this job-not because of the variance in the time
      size, but rather because of the wrong ink color on the
      cover and the typographical error on the [Table of
      Contents].

Complaint,  10, 11.  In effect, the Contractor is asserting
that the rejection of the first QATAPs under these circumstances
was a "sham," and thus the Contracting Officer was acting in bad
faith when he directed the Appellant to reprint the publication.

   In Sterling Printing, Inc., the Board recently addressed
   nearly the same complaint.  There, the contractor stated that
   the primary reason GPO defaulted the contract was that the
   Department of Interior needed to make certain changes in the
   contract specifications because it wanted a different looking
   book.25  In rejecting the contractor's allegation, the Board
   reasoned:

      The Contractor's argument is, in effect, an allegation that
      the Respondent's decision to cancel the contract was made
      in bad faith so that Interior could make cosmetic changes
      to the National Survey.  However, the Board has held on
      numerous occasions that because of the strong presumption
      that Government officials properly and honestly carry out
      their functions, an allegation of bad faith must be
      established by "well-nigh irrefragable" proof.  See, e.g.,
      Hurt's Printing Company, Inc., GPO BCA 27-92 (January 21,
      1994), Sl. op. at 11, fn. 15; Shepard Printing, GPO BCA
      23-92 (April 23, 1993), Sl. op. at 7-8, fn. 11 . . . ; B.
      P. Printing and Office Supplies, GPO BCA 14-91 (August 10,
      1992), Sl. op. at 16; Stephenson, Inc., GPO BCA 02-88
      (December 19, 1991), Sl. op. at 55;  The Standard Register
      Company, GPO BCA 4-86 (October 28, 1987); Sl. op. at 12-13.
      Also see, Karpak Data and Design, IBCA 2944 et al., 93-1
      BCA  25,360; Local Contractors, Inc., ASBCA 37108, 92-1
      BCA  24,491.  The key to such evidence is that there must
      be a showing of a specific intent on the part of the
      Government to injure the contractor.  Kalvar Corporation v.
      United States, 543 F.2d 1298, 1302 (Ct.Cl. 1976), cert.
      denied, 434 U.S. 830 (1977); Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl.
      op. at 54.  In the Board's view, no such "irrefragable"
      proof of the Respondent's bad faith exists in this record.
      Certainly, there is absolutely nothing in the record which
      would show that the employees of two separate Government
      entities-GPO and Interior-set out to harm the Appellant or
      that they acted in concert to achieve that specific result.
      Id., Sl. op. at 57.

Sterling Printing, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 23, fn. 35. [Emphasis
added.]  See also, Spiffy Enterprises, ASBCA No. 35827, 90-1 BCA
 22,385; Arnold V. Hedberg, ASBCA No. 31747, 90-1 BCA  22,577;
WB & A, Inc., ASBCA No. 32524, 89-2 BCA  21,736; Le-Gals,
Incorporated, NASABCA No. 1285-15, 88-2 BCA  20,703.

   Allegations of bad faith are easy to make but difficult to
   prove, because animus cannot be established by evidence of
   Government mistake or error; i.e., proof of specific intent to
   harm the contractor is needed.26  Sterling Printing, Inc.,
   supra, Sl. op. at 23, fn. 35; Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl. op.
   at 54.  See also, Anderson/Donald, Inc., ASBCA No. 31213, 86-3
   BCA  19,036, at 96,146.  Here, there is absolutely nothing in
   the record which would show that the Contracting Officer set
   out to harm the Appellant in this case, or that his direction
   to reprint QATAP was designed to achieve that specific result.
   See, Sterling Printing, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 23, fn. 35;
   Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 57.  In the Board's
   opinion, the Appellant's reliance on the Respondent's
   direction to make two changes in the publication, is more than
   offset by the fact that the copies it supplied to GPO were
   defective, as the Contractor admits, and this was the reason
   given by the Contracting Officer for requiring a reprint (R4
   File, Tabs G, H, I and L).  Id., Sl. op. at 55.

   Therefore, on the basis of the evidence, the Appellant's
   allegation of bad faith is merely an unsupported assertion
   which is insufficient to meet its required burden of proof.
   See, e.g., Fry Communications, Inc./InfoConversion Joint
   Venture, supra, Sl. op. at 33, n. 31; The Standard Register
   Company, supra, Sl. op. at 12-13.  See also, Singleton
   Contracting Corporation, supra, 90-2 BCA  22,748; Tri-State
   Services of Texas, Inc., supra, 89-3 BCA  22,064; Gemini
   Services, Inc., supra, 86-1 BCA  18,736.  Accordingly, the
   Board also finds no merit in the Appellant's claim that the
   Contracting Officer acted in bad faith when he directed a
   reprinting of the rejected copies of QATAP.

   ORDER

   Considering the record as a whole, the Board finds and
   concludes that the Appellant has not proved that the
   Government erroneously rejected the initial printing of QATAP.
   Rather, because of the admitted defects in the first shipment,
   the Contracting Officer properly exercised his discretion
   under the contract in directing a reprint of the entire
   publication, at no cost to the Government.  Furthermore, the
   Contractor has failed show by "irrefragable" proof, or any
   evidence whatsoever, that the Contracting Officer acted in bad
   faith when he rejected the first shipment of QATAPs and
   insisted on a reprinting, instead of accepting the delivery at
   a discounted price.  THEREFORE, the decision of the
   Contracting officer disallowing the Appellant's claim for
   $11,137.98-the contract price of the rejected publication-is
   AFFIRMED, and the appeal seeking that amount as reimbursement
   for the rejected QATAPs is DENIED.27

   On the other hand, the Board believes that the Contractor is
   entitled to some compensation for reprinting the corrected
   covers and two text pages of QATAP, as instructed by the
   Contracting Officer (R4 File, Tabs G).  GPO Contract Terms,
   Contract Clauses,  4(b) (Changes).  In the absence of any
   evidence from the Appellant, the Board finds that the amount
   offered by the Contracting Officer for the cost of the
   work-$1,823.93-is fair and reasonable under the circumstances
   (R4 File, Tabs K and L).  Cf., R.C. Swanson Printing and
   Typesetting Company, Decision on Motion for Reconsideration
   and Order, GPO BCA 15-90 (December 20, 1993), Sl. op. at 14;
   Banta Company, supra, Sl. op. at 61.  The Contracting Officer
   reaffirmed that figure in his final decision of September 11,
   1990 (R4 File, Tab L).  The Respondent has never withdrawn its
   offer.  See, R. Brf., p. 3.  Accordingly, the Government's
   offer is properly before the Board for disposition.  Board
   Rules, Preface to Rules,  I (Jurisdiction for Considering
   Appeals); GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses,  5(b)
   (Disputes).  THEREFORE, the Board REMANDS the case to the
   Contracting Officer with instructions to pay the Contractor in
   accordance with this opinion.  R.C. Swanson Printing and
   Typesetting Company, supra, Sl. op. at 15; Banta Company,
   supra, Sl. op. at 62; RD Printing Associates, Inc., GPO BCA
   02-92 (December 16, 1992), Sl. op. at 37; General Business
   Forms, Inc., GPO BCA 2-84 (December 3, 1985), Sl. op. at 23.

It is so Ordered.

May 6, 1994                     STUART M. FOSS
                           Administrative Judge
_______________

    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 April 10, 1991.  GPO Instruction
    110.12, Subject: Board of Contract Appeals Rules of Practice
    and Procedure, dated September 17, 1984, Rule 4(a) (Board
    Rules).  It will be referred to hereinafter as R4 File, with
    an appropriate Tab letter also indicated.  The R4 File
    consists of twelve (12) documents identified as Tabs A
    through L.
    2 By letter dated March 29, 1991, the Appellant advised the
    Board that it had selected the optional Accelerated Procedure
    to process its appeal.  Board Rules, Rules 12.1(b) and 12.3.
    However, this seems to have been a "star-crossed" case from
    the beginning.  For example, the Contractor's Notice of
    Appeal was dated October 9, 1990, and was mailed to the Board
    well within 90 days of the Contracting Officer's decision, as
    required by the Board Rules.  Board Rules, Rule 1(a).
    However, the appeal letter, which was received and signed for
    by one of the Respondent's employees on October 11, 1990, was
    misdirected by the mail room to another GPO office and never
    arrived at the Board.  The Board only became aware of the
    lost Notice of Appeal when the Contractor subsequently
    telephoned the Board's office to inquire about the status of
    the case.  Consequently, the appeal was not docketed by the
    Board until March 14, 1991, after it had received another
    copy of the Notice of Appeal and satisfactory proof of
    mailing from the Appellant, or more than six (6) months after
    the issuance of the final decision.  See, e.g., Micrographic
    Technology, Inc., ASBCA No. 25577, 81-2 BCA  15,357; Astro
    Industries, Inc., ASBCA No. 19082, 74-2 BCA  10,921; C & B
    Construction Company, ENGBCA No. 3317, 73-2 BCA  10,163.
    Thereafter, because of other inadvertent delays the record in
    this case was not closed until March 1, 1993.  Accordingly,
    notwithstanding the Appellant's election of the optional
    Accelerated Procedure, for all practical purposes this matter
    has been processed under the Board's regular procedure for
    handling cases submitted on the record without a hearing.
    Board Rules, Rule 11.
    3 Under the terms of the contract, 20 random copies was the
    proper number of "blue label" samples for a shipment of 7,550
    publications (R4 File, Tab A, p. 14).  Therefore, it seems to
    the Board that the "lot size" figure-17,550-shown on the
    "Inspection Report" (GPO Form 916) of June 6, 1990, is in
    error (R4 File, Tab F).  That figure represents the entire
    ordered quantity, not the first delivery of 7,550 copies.
    Following discussions between the parties, on August 6, 1990,
    the Respondent conducted a second inspection of 32 QATAPs-the
    appropriate number of samples for an order of 17,550 copies-
    which had been randomly selected by the Appellant (R4 File,
    Tabs I and J).  See, note 7 infra.
    4 The changes were necessary to correct a mistake in the
    color of the ink for the covers and a typographical error in
    the text (R4 File, Tab L).  In that regard, the standard GPO
    "Changes" clause provides, in pertinent part: "(a) The
    Contracting Officer may at any time, by written order, . . .
    , make changes within the general scope of this contract in .
    . . (1) Drawings, designs, or specifications when the
    supplies to be furnished are to be specially manufactured for
    the Government in accordance with the drawings, designs, or
    specifications. . . .(b) If any such change causes an
    increase or decrease in the cost of, or the time required
    for, performance of any part of the work, whether or not
    changed by the order, the Contracting Officer shall make an
    equitable adjustment in the contract price, the delivery
    schedule, or both, and shall modify the contract."  GPO
    Contract Terms, Contract Clauses,  4(a),(b) (Changes).
    5 According to the appeal record, the Contracting Officer
    admits that the "missing page" defect was an isolated
    problem, and it clearly does not have any significance in the
    context of this case (R4 File, Tab I).  See also, Report of
    Presubmission Conference, dated February 17, 1993, pp. 5-6
    (hereinafter cited as RPC).
    6 Accordingly, the Contractor denied accountability, and
    submitted a claim for additional costs amounting to a total
    of $657.00, for making the page change and for the press
    inspection on the reprinted cover (R4 File, Tab H).
    Furthermore, the Appellant also filed a claim with GPO for
    $11,137.98, seeking reimbursement for the first printing of
    QATAP which was rejected by the Respondent.  Complaint, p. 2
    (Prayer for Relief).  See also, RPC, p. 4.
    7 Under the terms of the contract, the proper number of "blue
    label" samples for the entire order of 17,550 QATAPs was 32
    randomly selected copies (R4 File, Tab A, p. 14).
    8 In addition, the record shows that even though the 12
    remaining samples were not rejected, they also were under-
    trimmed by almost an 1/8" below specifications (R4 File, Tab
    I).
    9 Only the Respondent submitted a written brief in this
    appeal.  See, Respondent's Brief, dated March 1, 1993
    (hereinafter R. Brf.).  The Board's understanding of the
    positions of the parties is based on the Appellant's
    Complaint, dated October 9, 1990, the Respondent's Answer,
    dated May 22, 1991, the discussions at the presubmission
    conference on December 8, 1992, as reflected in the Report of
    Presubmission Conference, and the Respondent's brief.
    10 As indicated by the Respondent, a principle purpose of the
    "strict compliance" rule is to ensure that the integrity of
    the competitive bidding system will not be compromised.  R.
    Brf., p. 3 (citing, Ideal Restaurant Supply Company, VACAB
    No. 570, 67-1 BCA  6,237).  Furthermore, the Board has said
    that the use of QATAP is the primary means by which GPO
    protects "the Government's interest by assuring that it
    received the quality product it specified."  See, Stabbe
    Senter Press, GPO BCA 13-85 and 19-85 (May 12, 1989), Sl. op.
    52; Automated Datatron, GPO BCA 25-87 and 26-87 (April 12,
    1989), Sl. op. at 3.
    11 The Board was created by the Public Printer in 1984.  GPO
    Instruction 110.10C, Subject: Establishment of the Board of
    Contract Appeals, dated September 17, 1984 (hereinafter GPO
    Instruction 110.10C).  Prior to that time, appeals from
    decisions of GPO Contracting Officers were considered by ad
    hoc panels of its predecessor, the GPO Contract Appeals Board
    (GPOCAB).  The Board has consistently taken the position that
    it is a different entity from the GPOCAB.  See, e.g.,
    Sterling Printing, Inc., GPO BCA 20-89 (March 28, 1994), Sl.
    op. 29, fn. 40; Shepard Printing, GPO BCA 37-92 (January 28,
    1994), Sl. op. at 11, fn. 10; The Wessel Company, Inc., GPO
    BCA 8-90 (February 28, 1992), Sl. op. at 25, fn. 25.
    Nonetheless, it has also been the Board's policy to follow
    the holdings of the ad hoc panels where applicable and
    appropriate, but the Board differentiates between its
    decisions and the opinions of those panels by citing the
    latter as GPOCAB.  See, e.g., Stephenson, Inc., GPO BCA 02-88
    (December 20, 1991), Sl. op. at 18, fn. 20; Chavis and Chavis
    Printing, GPO BCA 20-90 (February 6, 1991), Sl. op. at 9, fn.
    9.
    12 The presumption that Government officials will "deal in
    good faith," is separate and distinguishable from another
    assumption, namely, that Government acts are presumed to be
    regular and authorized.  See, United States v. Roses, Inc.,
    706 F.2d 1563, 1567 (Fed. Cir. 1983).
    13 "Irrefragable" proof simply means evidence which is
    incapable of being refuted; i.e., indisputable evidence.
    Webster's New World Dictionary (1988), p. 714.  See,
    Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 55.
    14 The record on which the Board's decision is based consists
    of: (1) the Appellant's Notice of Appeal/Complaint, dated
    October 9, 1990; (2) the R4 File (Tabs A through L); (3) the
    Respondent's Answer, dated May 22, 1991; (4) the Report of
    Presubmission Conference, dated February 17, 1993, pp. 5-6;
    and (5) the written brief submitted by the Respondent on
    March 1, 1993.
    15 Since the Contractor is asking the Board to allow its
    claim for $11,137.98 for the rejected publications, see, note
    6 supra, the remedy sought in this case is essentially an
    equitable adjustment.  Consequently, the Appellant has the
    affirmative burden of proving its claim by a preponderance of
    the evidence.  See, Banta Company, GPO BCA 03-91 (November
    15, 1993), Sl. op. at 50, fn. 62 (citing, Lawrence D. Krause,
    AGBCA No. 76-118-4, 82-2 BCA  16,129; Onetta Boat Works,
    Inc., ENGBCA No. 3733, 81-2 BCA  15,279; Globe Construction
    Co., ASBCA No. 21069, 78-2 BCA  13,337); Pikes Peak
    Lithographing Company, GPOCAB 7-77 (October 6, 1978), Sl. op.
    at 11 (citing, Mann Construction Company, Inc., AGBCA No.
    444, 76-1 BCA  11,710; EG & G, Inc., ASBCA 14051, 71-1 BCA 
    8867, at 41,219).  See also, John Cibinic, Jr. & Ralph C.
    Nash, Jr., Administration of Government Contracts 2d ed.,
    (The George Washington University, 1986), p. 504 (hereinafter
    Cibinic and Nash).
    16 In this regard, it should be remembered that an essential
    element of the so-called "substantial compliance" rule is
    that the contractor must reasonably believe, in good faith,
    that the delivered supplies conformed to the contract when
    shipped and that they would be acceptable.  See, e.g.,
    Sterling Printing, Inc., supra, Sl. op. 35, fn. 48 (citing,
    Radiation Technology, Inc. v. United States, 177 Ct.Cl. 227,
    232, 366 F.2d 1003, 1006 (1966)); Hurt's Printing Company,
    Inc., GPO BCA 27-92 (January 21, 1994), Sl. op. at 17;
    Shepard Printing, GPO BCA 23-92 (April 29, 1993), Sl. op. at
    19-20 (hereinafter Shepard (1993)).
    17 The Respondent's Printing Procurement Regulation,
    expressly states that the only person authorized to make
    final determinations on whether products shipped by a
    contractor conform to contract specifications is the
    Contracting Officer.  See, Printing Procurement Regulation,
    GPO Publication 305.3 (September 1, 1988), Chap. XIII, Sec.
    1,  4.f.  See also, Sterling Printing, Inc., supra, Sl. op.
    at 34-35, fn. 46; Hurt's Printing Company, Inc., supra, Sl.
    op. at 10, fn. 13.
    18 In French/Bray, Inc., supra, the Board considered
    essentially the same QATAP and contract provisions involved
    in this appeal, and found "as a matter of contract
    interpretation, and thus of law," inter alia, that "the
    determination of whether or not such burden has been met lies
    solely with the [Government], provided that the [Government]
    does not render its determination arbitrarily or capriciously
    but rather does so objectively by adhering to the testing and
    sampling standards of QATAP. . . . Thus, if the [Government]
    shows that it has adhered to the contractual standards for
    testing, inspection, and determination of product quality,
    its determination must be upheld."  French/Bray, Inc., supra,
    Sl. op. at 17  [Original emphasis.]  See also, Geographics,
    Inc., GPO BCA 8-85 (January 8, 1987).
    19 The QATAP defines a "major defect" as ". . . a deviation
    from specifications which is less serious than a critical
    defect."  QATAP, p. 1,  1-4.  Simply stated, a major defect
    is a deviation which normally would be noticed by the
    customer; e.g., excessively low type density.  Id., p. ix
    (Definition of Defects).  See, Shepard (1993), Sl. op. at 15,
    fn. 21.  On the other hand, a "critical defect" is ". . . a
    serious deviation from specifications."  Id., p. 1,  1-3.
    20 The Appellant's statement about its own findings when it
    inspected the rejected books, is clearly an admission that
    the first printing did not meet the contract specifications.
    Cf., Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at 20-21, fn. 24;
    Chavis and Chavis Printing, supra, Sl. op. at 9, 13; Eastwood
    Printing, GPO BCA 3-88 (March 8, 1990), Sl. op. at 1-2.
    However, in light of its vague nature, the Board cannot say
    with equal certainty that the Contractor's statement also
    amounts to an admission that the under-trimming exceeded the
    QATAP tolerances; indeed, the Appellant is contending just
    the opposite.  Therefore, the Appellant's concession that the
    first books it delivered were nonconforming, is not enough,
    standing alone, to dispose of the issue.  Cf., Cascade
    Pacific International v. United States [33 CCF  73,958], 773
    F.2d 287, 292-94 (Fed. Cir. 1985); UB Corporation, GSBCA Nos.
    7701-COM, 7908-COM, 7909-COM, 86-2 BCA  18,831, at 94,894.
    21 A third reason-that the Respondent wanted to change the
    ink color on the cover of the publication and correct a
    typographical error in the Table of Contents-questions the
    motive of the Contracting Officer, and is discussed infra.
    See, Complaint,  8; R4 File, Tab H, p. 2,  4.
    22 The Radiation Technology doctrine is clearly an
    encroachment on the Government's right to terminate.
    However, it is also apparent that the rule merely stays for a
    reasonable period the Government's right to terminate, and
    not its right to insist on 100 percent conforming goods;
    i.e., the doctrine concerns time, not the supplies
    themselves.  See, Hurt's Printing Company, Inc., supra, Sl.
    op. at 18, fn. 22; Pikes Peak Lithographing Company, supra,
    Sl. op. at 13.  Furthermore, the "substantial compliance"
    rule is used to prevent surprise rejections by the buyer
    after a contractor's timely shipment in situations where
    performance departs in only minor respects from that which
    has been promised.  See,  Stephenson, Inc., supra, Sl. op. at
    50-51, fn. 54 (citing, Environmental Tectonics Corporation,
    ASBCA No. 20340, 76-2 BCA  12,134).
    23 It should be noted that the Claims Court also emphasized
    that the "substantial compliance" doctrine ". . . should not
    be carried to the point where the nondefaulting party is
    compelled to accept a measure of performance fundamentally
    less than had been bargained for."  Franklin E. Penny Co. v.
    United States, supra, 524 F.2d at 677.

    24 The last option is meant to be exercised only in a limited
    number of cases, where circumstances do not allow reprinting
    and use "as is" in necessary.  See, QATAP, p. xi
    (Acceptability or Rejection of the Lot).  Under QATAP, if a
    random sample of 32 copies discloses 20 major defects, as
    here, the Government discount for accepting the publications
    would be 10 percent.  Id., p. 47 (Appendix B-Discount Table
    for Major Defects).
    25 The contractor in Sterling Printing, Inc. was saying, in
    effect, that the contract had really been terminated for the
    convenience of the Government.  However, the rule is clear
    that an otherwise justified default termination is not
    rendered invalid because the Government no longer has a need
    for the item being purchased, even where lack of need is part
    of the motivation for the termination.  H & R Machinists
    Company, ASBCA No. 39655, 90-3 BCA  22,948.
    26 The theory of recovery for the contractor where the
    evidence is sufficient to support a finding of bad faith on
    the part of a contracting officer, is that the Government has
    breached its implied duty of good faith and fair dealing in
    contract performance and enforcement.  See,  United States v.
    Roses, Inc., supra, 706 F.2d at 1566; Systems Technology
    Associates, Inc. v. United States, 699 F.2d 1383, 1387 (Fed.
    Cir. 1983).  See also, All-American Poly Corporation (Park
    Poly Bag Corporation), GSBCA No. 7104, 84-3 BCA  17,682;
    Nash Janitorial Service, Inc., GSBCA No. 6390, 84-1 BCA 
    17,135, mot. for reconsid. denied, 84-2 BCA  17,355; 6800
    Corporation, GSBCA No. 5880, 83-2 BCA  16,581; Restatement
    (Second) of Contracts,  205 (1979).  The essence of the
    breach is an improper motive.  See, Mutual Maintenance Co.,
    Inc., GSBCA No. 7492, 85-2 BCA  17,944; Drain-A-Way Systems,
    GSBCA No. 7022, 84-1 BCA  16,929.
    27 See, note 6 supra.