Appeal of Atlantic Research Corporation
Docket No. GPO BCA 22-87
July 10, 1989

Michael F. DiMario
Administrative Law Judge


     This appeal, timely filed by Atlantic Research Corporation,
     5390 Cherokee Avenue, Alexandria, VA  22314 (Appellant), is
     from the final decision of G.W. Watson, Contracting Officer
     (CO), United States Government Printing Office (Respondent),
     denying Appellant's request for an upward adjustment in the
     price of its contract with Respondent identified as GPO
     Jacket No. 192-569 made upon the requisition of the United
     States Postal Service.   The decision of the CO is affirmed
     for the reason set forth hereinbelow.


     On September 22, 1987, Respondent, pursuant to the
     requisition of the United States Postal Service, issued an
     Invitation for Bids (IFB) for the production of some 50,280
     copies of a publication entitled "Ben Franklin Stamp Club
     Activity Guide, Pub. 13, 11-87" kits.  The invitation was
     sent to some 18 potential bidders including Appellant.  Bid
     opening was stated in the IFB as 11 a.m. prevailing
     Washington, DC time, September 25, 1987.  (Rule 4 File,
     hereinafter "R4 File," Tab A.)  Appellant made a timely
     telephone bid on September 25th which was date stamped by
     the GPO Purchase Division as being received precisely at 11
     a.m.  (R4 File, Tab C.)  An examination of bids revealed
     that while Appellant at $30,407 and $54.50 additional per
     thousand was the low bidder, it was so significantly below
     the next lowest bid of Cascio-Wolf, Inc. at $48,800 and $970
     per $1,000 as to suggest a possible error in bid.  (R4 File,
     Tab C, sheets 1 and 3.)  Accordingly, Respondent's Contract
     Administrator, Jon R. Carr, telephoned Appellant on or about
     September 28, 1987, before award, and spoke to a Bernie
     Wolfson. Carr pointed out to Wolfson that Appellant's bid
     was approximately "$18,400 lower than the next bidder and
     that product was a kit folder with a pamphlet saddle
     stitched at the center fold."  In response Wolfson stated
     that he could not see any errors and that a confirming
     letter would follow.  (R4 File, Tab D.)

     Based upon this oral confirmation and an analysis of prices
     paid for comparable work under Jacket No. 169-148 on
     December 12, 1986, Jacket No. 171-076 on December 12, 1986,
     and Jacket No. 171-340 in January 1987, Carr determined that
     Appellant's price was fair and reasonable.  Accordingly,
     Purchase Order No. 66640 was issued to Appellant on
     September 28, 1987, awarding the contract in strict
     accordance with Appellant's bid of September 25, 1987, and
     Respondent's specifications.  (R4 File, Tab F.)

     Appellant picked up the order from Respondent on September
     30, 1987, whereupon its Mr. Patrick Peartree, Assistant
     Estimator, examined the job and specifications and thereby
     noticed that Appellant had made a substantial error in its
     bid.  He immediately notified Carr that the quotation was
     incorrect and asked that Appellant's letter of confirmation
     that would be arriving in the mail in the near future be
     ignored.  He was told of the procedure necessary to have a
     post-award mistake in bid considered, including the need for
     an affidavit attesting to the mistake.

     By affidavit dated October 1, 1987, filed with GPO Contract
     Specialist James Markley, Wolfson, supra, identified himself
     as Appellant's Manager of Estimating and Planning, and
     stated that:

2. [T]he bid submitted by Atlantic Research Corp. on GPO Jacket
192-569 was in error in the following respects.
a.  I neglected to notice that the cover was to be die cut and
glued to include a pocket.
b.  Because the cover does have a pocket, I did not allow enough
stock to do the job.
3.  This error occurred due to an oversight in reading the
4.  [T]he attached worksheets [sic] are the original worksheets
used to prepare the bid and have not been altered.
5.  Our original quotation of $30,407. should have been $37,704.
6.  [T]he bid be corrected to $37,704.

R4 File, Tab H.

     After first having the affidavit and work sheets reviewed by
     the CO, Markley reported to Respondent's Contract Review
     Board that the CO found the error to be substantiated "but
     not the actual bid [of $37,704 claimed to have been]
     intended."  However, the CO believed the error to be
     unilateral on the part of Appellant.  He also believed "his
     obligation was fulfilled when Atlantic Research was asked to
     review and confirm its bid which they did as being correct."
     Markley asked for the Board's concurrence in the CO's
     determination that no change be made in the contract price.
     The concurrence was unanimously given.

     Thereafter, by final decision letter of the CO dated October
     14, 1987, Appellant was notified that:

   There is no evidence to suggest the Government contributed in
   any way to the asserted error, i.e., the error was unilateral.
   The record establishes that the Government did all that was
   required of it to ascertain the correctness of the bid when
   you were requested to review and confirm bid price, in view of
   the significant variation between it and the other bid
   received.  It was not until after you expressed the desire to
   accept the contract at the price submitted that the
   contracting officer considered the bid proper for award.
   Under the circumstances the award consummated a valid and
   binding contract which fixed the rights and liabilities of the
   parties.  There is consequently no legal basis for increasing
   the price as requested.

R4 File, Tab J.

     Thereafter, Appellant by letter of October 30, 1987,
     appealed to this Board stating for its cause of action that:

1)  We notified Mr. Carr of the error prior to his receipt of the
written confirmation, but, unfortunately, the letter had entered
the U.S. Mail and was not retrievable.
2)  This was simply an honest, human error.
3)  Even with the requested amount, our bid is still $11,096.00
lower than the next bidder and, lastly,
4)  We, in our long history with the Government Printing Office,
have never had reason to make this type of appeal before.

Official File, Tab 1.

     No formal complaint or answer was received in the case.
     However, a general denial on behalf of the Government was
     entered in the record by the Board on February 22, 1988,
     pursuant to Rule 6.(b) of GPO Instruction 110.12 dated
     September 17, 1984, with Appellant being so notified.

     The case is now before the Board in this format for


     There is no dispute between the parties concerning any
     question of fact related to the contract.  The single issue
     of whether or not an upward adjustment in contract price is
     warranted based upon a post-award discovery by a bidder that
     it has made a unilateral  mistake in its bid, is within the
     exclusive discretion of the CO.  A CO may not exercise such
     discretion unless both the mistake and the bid price which
     the bidder actually intended to make have been independently
     verified, the bid price so intended is lower than the next
     lowest bid, and correction of the mistake would make the
     contract more favorable to the Government.  Here, it is
     abundantly clear that the CO did everything in his power to
     assure that the bidder was treated fairly and in accordance
     with established procedure.  When it appeared after bid
     opening that Appellant might have made a mistake, Appellant
     was asked to verify its bid with the added advice respecting
     the complex nature of the contract.  After discovery of the
     mistake, Appellant was asked to supply the affidavit and
     pricing work sheets it had used.  The CO analyzed the
     results with his discretionary authority in mind, finding no
     validation of the price actually intended.  Then, after
     concluding that his decision should be one of denial, the CO
     sought the concurrence of Respondent's Contract Review Board
     before taking action.  Under such circumstances, the Board
     is compelled to deny the appeal and affirm the discretionary
     decision of the CO.

It is so ordered.