BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE In the matter of ) ) the Appeal of ) ) HORIZON GRAPHICS ) Docket No. GPOBCA 14-02 ) Jacket 783-405 ) Purchase Order P9576 ) For the Appellant: Robert Gacek, Jr., President, Horizon Graphics, Eden Prairie, Minnesota. For the Respondent: Roy E. Potter, Esq., Associate General Counsel, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC. Before KERRY L. MILLER, Administrative Judge. SUMMARY DECISION ISSUED UNDER RULE 12.2 - SMALL CLAIMS PROCEDURE INTRODUCTION Horizon Graphics (Appellant) appeals the decision of a U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) Contracting Officer denying the company's claim for $539.20 in additional compensation for performing GPO contract 783-405. Pursuant to GPOBCA Rule 12.2, the Board issues the following summary decision.\1\ FINDINGS OF FACT 1. Horizon Graphics was awarded a small purchase contract worth $2,319.05 for the production of 615 copies of a 48-page publication entitled USGS EVAPOTRANSPIRATION REPORT: WRIR 01-4234. The contract contained the following provisions that are in dispute: DESCRIPTION: Covers 1 and 4 print type, line art and solids in black plus four-color process photo on Cover 1. Covers 2 and 3 print type copy in black only. Excepting four blank pages, the text pages (eight preface pages plus page nos. 1 thru 40) print type, rules and line art in black throughout. Eight text pages (first page, plus page nos. 3, 5, 13, 14, 15, 22 and 23) additionally print four-color process imagery. MATERIAL FURNISHED: 650 MB CD-R disc with CMYK digital copy for Cover 1 and eight text pages (System 9.2/10.1 Mac-compatible Illustrator 8/9, Photoshop 5/6 files plus furnished fonts), bound color hardcopy dummy, 44 page-size camera-ready originals, pagination sheet and GPO Form 952. Contractor to shoot 45 base negs; provide traps and output CMYK films for Cover 1 and eight text pages at min. 1600 dpi (133-line) and composite/strip-in with base negs; typeset and strip-in GPO imprint Cover 3, bottom inside. Rule 4 File, Tab A. 2. After reviewing the Government-furnished CD-R, Appellant concluded that the materials were not as described by the contract specifications. Appellant complained to the Contracting Officer that the CD-R did not contain eight "formatted" text pages, i.e., pages with both text and illustrations already in position on the pages. Appellant argued that the contract specifications led it to believe that it would not have to perform the process of combining both text and graphics to produce the finished pages. According to Appellant, the additional cost to strip\2\ in the illustrations would be $539.20. Exhibit 6, Appellant's Brief. 3. The Contracting Officer disagreed with Appellant's interpretation of the contract and ordered Horizon Graphics to proceed with the work, pursuant to Clauses 4(e)\3\ and 5(i)\4\ of GPO Contract Terms, GPO Publication 310.2 (Rev. 6-01). Exhibits 9, 10, Appellant's Brief. 4. After reviewing Appellant's claim for additional compensation, the Contracting Officer issued the following final decision: I have once again reviewed the file, including all correspondence, for Jacket 783-405. I believe the actions of the Government to be correct. Your position is based on your isolation and misrepresentation of one aspect of the specifications. Your request for payment is based on the fact that you "found no formatted text pages on disk". All of your charges relate to the process of stripping-in the CMYK illustrations with the base negatives. The following facts are clear: The specifications did not say that the Government was furnishing "formatted text pages on the disk". The specifications did say that the Government was furnishing CMYK digital copy for eight text pages. The Government did furnish CMYK digital copy for those pages. The specifications did say that the Government would furnish camera ready originals. The Government did furnish camera ready originals. The specifications did say "Contractor to shoot 45 base negs.." The specifications did say "..output CMYK films for Cover 1 and eight text pages at min. 1600 dpi (133-line) and composite/strip-in with base negs;.. " The work, for which you are requesting additional reimbursement, is clearly required by, and spelled out in, the specifications. It has long been established in contract law that a writing is interpreted as a whole and all writings forming part of the same contract are interpreted together. It is improper to interpret a single word, phrase, or sentence out of context with the rest of the contract. Clearly, to make additional payment in accordance with your request would be in violation of this long established rule. With this in mind, your request for additional payment is denied. Rule 4 File, Tab C. 5. Thereafter, Appellant filed a timely appeal with the GPO Board of Contract Appeals. DISCUSSION The purpose of any rule of contract interpretation is to carry out the intent of the parties, Hegeman-Harris & Co., 194 Ct. Cl. 574, 440 F.2d 1009 (1971); and to give effect to the "spirit and purpose" of the agreement. Julius Goldman's Egg City v. United States, 697 F.2d 1051 (Fed. Cir. 1983); Thanet Corp v. United States, 591 F.2d 629 (Ct. Cl. 1979). The Board must first seek to resolve a contract interpretation dispute by trying to determine the mutual intent of the parties as manifested in the contract itself. IBI Security Services, Inc. v. United States, ASBCA No. 3492, 88-1 BCA ¶ 20,364; Coastal Dry Dock & Repair Corp., ASBCA No. 31894, 87-1 BCA ¶ 19,618. The test for ascertaining intent is an objective one; i.e., the question is what would a reasonable contractor have understood, not what did the drafter or the bidder subjectively intend. Corbetta Construction Co. v. United States, 198 Ct. Cl. 712, 461 F.2d 1330 (1972). See also Salem Engineering and Construction Corp. v. United States, 2 Cl. Ct. 803, 806 (1983). The provisions of the contract itself should provide the evidence of the objective intent of the parties, and so, when interpreting a contract, the Board's examination should begin with the plain language used in the contract. Textron Defense Sys., 143 F.3d 1465, 1469 (Fed. Cir. 1998); Gould, Inc. v. United States, 935 F.2d 1271, 1274 (Fed. Cir. 1991); Craft Mach. Works Inc. v. United States, 926 F.2d 1110, 1113 (Fed. Cir. 1991). There is a burden on the Government when writing contracts to use language that conveys the Government's intent. If the Government uses language reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation that is consistent with the contract language and an objective determination of the intent of the parties, the specification is ambiguous and the Government may be liable to the contractor. Gentz Construction Co., IBCA No. 1015, 75-1 BCA ¶ 11,010, citing Bennett v. United States, 178 Ct. Cl. 61, 64, 371 F.2d 859 (1967). While the disputed contract language in this appeal, with its terse prose and heavy reliance on printing industry argot, is not an example of good literature, it is unambiguous and not reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation. Appellant's complaint is that the Government did not furnish "formatted" text pages as digital files. However, the contract contains no such explicit promise. Instead, Appellant points to language in the DESCRIPTION section of the contract, arguing that the sentence "[e]ight text pages (first page, plus page nos. 3, 5, 12, 14, 15, 22 and 23) additionally print four-color process imagery" is a commitment on the part of the Government to furnish "formatted" text pages. The Board concludes that Appellant's interpretation of this sentence is incorrect. In coming to this conclusion the Board must take into account the context within which the above-quoted sentence appears. That sentence is contained in the DESCRIPTION portion of the contract, a section that lists the types of printing that will be required of the contractor. As an example, the DESCRIPTION section directs the contractor to print covers 1 and 4 of the REPORT with type, line art and solids printed in black ink, plus a four-color process\5\ photo on the cover. The DESCRIPTION section goes on to state that eight of the text pages must be printed with four-color process images in addition to type, rules and line art printed in black. Rule 4 File, Tab A. The DESCRIPTION section of the contract does not, however, contain any description of the electronic files to be furnished by the Government. Instead, the DESCRIPTION section of Jacket 783-405 is simply a listing of the printing components of the USGS EVAPOTRANSPIRATION REPORT. Therefore, the Board concludes it is not reasonable for Appellant to read the sentence "[e]ight text pages (first page, plus page nos. 3, 5, 12, 14, 15, 22 and 23) additionally print four-color process imagery" as a description of the electronic files to be furnished by the Government. There is a separate section of the contract, entitled MATERIAL FURNISHED, that lists the items the Government promised to provide to the contractor and also lists the operations the Government expected the contractor to perform. It is only in this section of the contract that the Government-furnished digital files are referenced. An examination of the language of the MATERIAL FURNISHED section lends no support for Appellant's argument. Instead of promising to furnish "formatted pages" as alleged by Appellant, the MATERIAL FURNISHED section promises to furnish "CMYK\6\ digital copy for Cover 1 and eight text pages." The MATERIAL FURNISHED section also directs the contractor to "output CMYK films for Cover 1 and eight text pages . . . and composite/strip-in with base negs." Thus, the contract promised to provide digital color images and directed the contractor to output those images and to "composite/strip-in" the images with the contractor- produced base negatives. It is precisely these strip-in functions that Appellant is seeking additional compensation for. The Board concludes that Appellant is not entitled to additional compensation since the contract specifications adequately described both the Government-furnished materials and the composite/strip-in operations required of Appellant. CONCLUSION Having considered all the arguments of the parties, whether or not expressly mentioned, the Board concludes that Appellant's interpretation is unreasonable and inconsistent with the plain language of the contract. Accordingly, the appeal is denied. December 4, 2003 KERRY L. MILLER Administrative Judge ___________________ 1 Decisions issued under this small claims procedure have no value as precedent. GPOBCA Rule 12.2 (d). 2 "Strip" means "to attach a film negative to a carrier sheet (such as goldenrod) to create a flat for platemaking. Stip also means to insert an additional negative (such as a halftone) into an already assembled flat." F. Romano, THE GATF ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS 750. 3 Clause 4 (e), Changes, reads: "Failure to agree to any adjustment shall be a dispute under the Disputes clause. However, nothing in this clause shall excuse the contractor from proceeding with the contract as changed." 4 Clause 5 (i), Disputes, reads: "The contractor shall proceed diligently with performance of the contract, pending final resolution of any request for relief, claim, appeal, or action arising under the contract, and comply with any decision of the contracting officer." 5 Process color refers to the printing of "full color" images using a photographic color separation process in which each of the three primary colors (cyan, magenta and yellow) plus black are separated from the original art and given their own printing plates. F. Romano, THE GATF ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS 647. 6 "CMYK" is an acronym for cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black), the four process colors or inks used in printing. F. Romano, THE GATF ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS 146.