U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS Appeal of Atlantic Research Corporation Docket No. GPO BCA 22-87 July 10, 1989 Michael F. DiMario Administrative Law Judge Opinion 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. Background 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 specification. 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 decision. Discussion 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.