BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE WASHINGTON, DC 20401 In the Matter of ) ) the Appeal of ) ) THE STANDARD REGISTER ) Docket No. GPOBCA 25-94 COMPANY, INC. ) Jacket No. 573-927 ) Purchase Order M-2925 ) For the Appellant: The Standard Register Company, Inc., Vienna, Virginia, by Anthony W. Hawks, Esq., Alexandria, Virginia. For the Respondent: Joyce B. Harris, Esq., Assistant General Counsel, U.S. Government Printing Office. Before BERGER, Ad Hoc Chairman. DECISION AND ORDER By notice of appeal received on July 5, 1994, The Standard Register Company, Inc. (Appellant), 8607 Westwood Center Drive, Vienna, Virginia, timely appealed the June 8, 1994, final decision of Government Printing Office (GPO or Respondent) Contracting Officer Raymond Macdonald terminating the Appellant's contract (Purchase Order M-2925, Jacket 573-927) for default. For the reasons set forth herein, the Contracting Officer's decision is REVERSED and the appeal is GRANTED. I. BACKGROUND 1. On December 29, 1993, the Appellant was awarded a contract to produce and deliver three (3) million perforated cut sheet forms with adhesive strips for use as non-impact printed, pressure sealed data mailers known as "Z" fold data mailers. The specifications described the required paper stock ("White, OCR Ledger, basis size 17 x 22", sub. 24 per 500 sheets, equal to JCP Code 025") and stated that the stock "must be suitable for use on a Xerox Model 4090 non-impact Printer, a Moore Model 8158 Folder- Nester, and a Moore Model 4800 Speedisealer." The specifications also required that "[p]ressure activated adhesive . . . be applied to 10 areas on face and back of form," and that the adhesive "be appropriate for use on Moore Model 4800 Speedisealer." Rule 4 File, Tab A.1 (Emphasis in original.) 2. The original contract delivery date was February 11, 1994. That date was changed to February 18 at the Appellant's request because of "weather considerations." HT-1 22-23.2 3. On February 15, 1994, the Appellant brought approximately 2,000 forms to the customer agency, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), for pre-delivery testing. No problems were noted as a result of that testing. HT-2 7-9. 4. The Appellant shipped 1,632,000 forms on February 16; the remaining 1,398,000 forms were shipped on March 4. 5. On March 7 DFAS experienced paper jamming problems while trying to run the Appellant's forms through the DFAS printers, with DFAS reporting to the Respondent that the paper "will not run through our printers without jamming" and that "[w]e cannot use this paper, as it slows our production to a standstill." Rule 4 File, Tab B. 6. On March 23 representatives of the Appellant and the Respondent conducted a test run on quantities of forms from the February 16 shipment. These forms jammed at the start of the test runs. The problem was alleviated when forms from the previous supplier were placed at the top of the input tray or when less paper was placed in the input tray. HT-2 121. 7. On March 24 test runs were conducted on forms from the March 4 shipment. No significant problems were encountered. As a result, the Contracting Officer proposed that GPO pay full price for the second shipment if no future problems developed and a discounted price for the first shipment. HT-1 117-18. 8. On April 5, during a production run using forms from the March 4 shipment, DFAS "experienced paper jamming on all of the printers." This jamming occurred approximately 2-1/2 hours after the run had started in two areas of the printers: "com[ing] out of the trays, [and] in the flat part on the bottom of the printers." Rule 4 File, Tab D. 9. On April 18, the Contracting Officer informed the Appellant that "the Government cannot accept forms that continually have run problems," that a discount for the first shipment was "no longer an option," and that he was considering rejecting the entire order. Rule 4 File, Tab E. 10. In late April the Appellant requested an opportunity to be present for the next production run. The Contracting Officer, after consultation with DFAS, denied the request because it would be a waste of Government time and personnel and because DFAS was no longer going to try to run the Appellant's forms. Rule 4 File, Tab F. 11. On May 3 the Contracting Officer proposed to the Respondent's Contract Review Board that the contract be terminated for default.3 Approval was given on May 10. Rule 4 File, Tab H. 12. On May 19, DFAS wrote a letter to the Contracting Officer formally advising that the forms were defective, that it had been unable to "get through a single production run without considerable delays caused by the . . . jamming," and that it did not want a reorder. It described the situation as follows: The paper was used to print time sensitive military pay statements. Use of the Standard Register paper resulted in excessive jamming of printers and slowed production. We typically have seven days from the time printing begins to the time the member must have their pay statement in hand. Because of this short window, excessive delays caused by paper jams are not acceptable. The jamming appears to be caused by the paper adhesive heating up during production. The Standard Register paper works fine for the first few thousand statements, but begins to jam as the printers heat up. Our production run consist[s] of more than 430,000 statements. It is not feasible to stop production to let the printers cool down. With our former paper supplier . . . paper jamming was not a problem. We used their paper for almost two years with no similar problems. Rule 4 File, Tab D. The Contracting Officer was also informed of the following from the shift supervisor who was present when the problems arose: Once we went into a full blown run [with the Appellant's forms] we began to encounter problems with fumes caused by the glue on the forms passing over the heat rollers on the 4090's. This turned out to be the least of our problems as we soon discovered that we were getting multiple jams . . . . We found that the Standard Register forms ran fine for about two hours or until the machines began to warm up from the heavy processing and then our problems with the fumes and constant jamming would begin. Rule 4 File, Tab D. 13. On June 8 the Contracting Officer terminated the contract for default "because the forms provided did not run satisfactorily on the specified equipment and the Government no longer has a requirement for these forms." Rule 4 File, Tab H. II. POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES A. The Appellant The Appellant challenges the default termination on both procedural and substantive grounds. First, the Appellant argues that the default notice was defective because it did not provide for a 10-day cure period. Second, the Appellant asserts that GPO had accepted the forms and paid for them so that its right to terminate for default was "foreclosed." Third, the Appellant states that the Respondent cannot rely on the contract "Warranty" clause, which provides a 120-day warranty that the supplies furnished are free from defects and comply with all requirements, see GPO Contract Terms, Solicitation Provisions, Supplemental Specifications, and Contract Clauses, GPO Publication 310.2 (Rev. 9-88) (hereafter GPO Contract Terms), Contract Clauses, ¶ 20, because the Respondent gave no notice of breach of warranty and allowed no cure period. Substantively, the Appellant asserts that there has been no showing that the forms furnished by the Appellant failed to meet any specification requirement. In this regard, the Appellant states that the paper used met all specific design requirements set out in the contract specifications and met the requirement that the paper be "suitable for use on a Xerox Model 4090 non-impact printer" because the paper met the paper specifications recommended for that printer. The Appellant further states that the Respondent in any event could not properly base a default termination on the "suitable for use" language because the contract contained no standards by which to judge compliance with that requirement. The Appellant also argues that the Respondent, by refusing to allow it to try to resolve the production run jamming problem, breached its duty to cooperate with it. Finally, the Appellant argues that the real reason for the default was that the Government no longer needed the forms and that the default termination was simply a "pre- text" for a termination for convenience. B. The Respondent The Respondent argues that the default was proper because the Appellant failed to deliver a satisfactory product, evidenced by the excessive jamming problems encountered which prevented DFAS from ever completing a successful production run with the Appellant's forms. In this respect, the Respondent asserts that the contract contained primarily performance specifications and therefore it need establish only that the Appellant's forms did not function when used on the equipment specified in the contract. The Respondent further argues that, because the Appellant did not make timely delivery and in fact delivered a product with a major defect, no cure notice was required. The Respondent also asserts that it never "accepted" the forms but that even if it did, the latent nature of the defect in the forms precluded finality of that acceptance. Finally, the Respondent, while conceding that there would be no future need for the forms, argues that the termination was legitimately one for default and not for convenience because it was based on the Appellant's failure to furnish acceptable forms that the Government had every intention of buying and using. III. ISSUES PRESENTED 1. Was the default termination procedurally defective? 2. Did the Respondent properly default the Appellant's contract because the forms produced by the Appellant failed to satisfy the contract specifications? 3. Did the Contracting Officer terminate the contract for default because the forms were no longer needed? IV. DISCUSSION4 The Appellant's contract allows the Respondent to terminate the contract for default. One of the three bases for default set forth in the "Default" clause is the failure to deliver on time. GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses, ¶ 20 ("Default"). Failure to make timely delivery under the "Default" clause encompasses both a failure to meet the contract delivery schedule and a failure to deliver, in accordance with that schedule, a product that conforms to the specifications. Daff v. United States, 78 F.3d 1566 (Fed. Cir. 1996); Radiation Technology v. United States, 366 F.2d 1003 (Ct. Cl. 1966); Nash Metalware Co., Inc. v. General Servs. Admin., GSBCA 11951, 94-2 BCA ¶ 26,780; Big Red Enterprises, GPOBCA 07-93 (August 30, 1996), slip op. at 27 n.26, 1996 WL 812960. Although a "cure" notice, informing a contractor of a performance problem and allowing a period of time for correction of the problem, is required prior to a default termination for either of the other two bases for default set forth in the clause, there is no requirement for a cure notice when a termination for default is based on the failure to timely deliver. De Vito v. United States, 413 F.2d 1147 (Ct. Cl. 1969); Artisan Printing Inc., GPOBCA 15-93 (February 6, 1998), slip op. at 11, 1998 WL ______. While a contract generally cannot be terminated for default after the Government has accepted a contractor's tendered goods, K Square Corp., IBCA 959-3-72, 73-3 BCA ¶ 10,363, in light of the "Inspection and Tests" clause, GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses, ¶ 14, which provides that acceptance is conclusive except for "latent defects, fraud, gross mistakes amounting to fraud, or as otherwise provided," the Respondent is not precluded from revoking acceptance and ultimately terminating a contract for default in cases of latent defects and gross mistake. Spandome Corp. v. United States, 32 Fed. Cl. 626 (1995); Triad Inc., ENGBCA 5882, 95-1 BCA ¶ 27,290; Sentell Bros., Inc., DOTCAB 1824, 89-3 BCA ¶ 21,904, recon. denied, 89-3 BCA ¶ 22219; Jo-Bar Mfg. Corp., ASBCA 17774, 73-2 BCA ¶ 10,311; Catalytic Eng'g & Mfg. Corp., ASBCA 15257, 72-1 BCA ¶ 9342, recon. denied, 72-2 BCA ¶ 9518; Cross Aero Corp., ASBCA 15,092, 71-2 BCA ¶ 9076. With this in mind, the Board need not spend much time on the Appellant's procedural objections to the default. The first objection, the absence of a cure notice, is premised on the Appellant's assertion that the default was not based on a failure to timely deliver because "[t]here is no issue concerning a failure to deliver," App. Pr. Brf. at 9; App. Brf. at 13, and because GPO "waived strict compliance with the delivery schedule." App. R.Brf. at 13. The default action here, however, is not based on a failure to physically deliver by a certain date; it is based on the perceived unacceptability of what was delivered. As stated above, a failure to deliver conforming products is also encompassed by a failure to timely deliver. Thus, regardless of whether the Respondent waived the original delivery date, the basis for the default here is one that does not require a cure notice. The second objection, that a default termination is precluded because the Respondent accepted and paid5 for the forms, is also unavailing since it is clear on this record that if there is a defect in the forms furnished by the Appellant it is a latent one.6 Finally, the "Warranty" clause argument is irrelevant here because the Respondent did not seek the remedies provided by the clause or otherwise rely on it. The substantive merits of this appeal require somewhat more discussion. As this Board has often stated, a termination for default is a drastic action which may be taken only for good cause and on the basis of solid evidence, with the Government having the burden of proving the basis for default. Artisan Printing Inc., supra, at 7; Venture, Ltd., GPOBCA 01-96 (September 26, 1997), slip op. at 13-14, 1997 WL 742427; Big Red Enterprises, supra, at 24-25, and cases cited therein. In this case, that means the Respondent must show, by reliable evidence, that the forms furnished by the Appellant failed to meet the requirements of the contract. The contract specifications imposed two kinds of requirements. First, there were specific design requirements: the paper was to be "White, OCR Ledger, . . . equal to JCP Code 025." Second, there was the requirement that the paper stock "be suitable for use on a Xerox Model 4090 non-impact Printer . . . ." The Respondent does not assert that the Appellant's forms failed to meet the detailed design requirements; its position, in essence, is that the Appellant furnished forms that did not run satisfactorily on the specified equipment and therefore that it did not meet the specification requirement to deliver a product that was suitable for use on its Xerox 4090 printers. As it has done before, the Respondent says, in effect, that the forms didn't work, so they must be defective. See Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., GPOBCA 28-93 (September 16, 1997), slip op. at 24, 1997 WL 742498. Whether the Respondent can satisfy its burden simply by establishing the failure of the forms to work on the specified printers depends initially upon the nature of the specifications, that is, whether they are design specifications or performance specifications. Design specifications set forth precise measurements and other specific information that describe and limit exactly how the contract is to be performed, while performance specifications set forth operational requirements or end results to be achieved, with the contractor having the responsibility and flexibility to choose the means for accomplishing those results. Stuyvesant Dredging Co. v. United States, 834 F.2d 1576 (Fed. Cir. 1987); Neal & Co. v. United States, 19 Cl. Ct. 463 (1990), aff'd, 945 F.2d 385 (Fed. Cir. 1991); Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra, at 27-28. Where a design specification is used, the Government impliedly warrants that if the specifications are followed the results will be acceptable, which means that the Government bears the responsibility for nonperformance if an item produced in accordance with the Government's specifications does not work. United States v. Spearin, 248 U.S. 132 (1918); Hol-Gar Mfg. Corp. v. United States, 360 F.2d 634 (Ct. Cl. 1966); Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra, at 25; Colorgraphics Corp., GPOBCA 16-87 (March 31, 1989), slip op. at 23-24, 1989 WL 384970. A performance specification, however, carries with it no such warranty because it leaves to the contractor's judgment, ingenuity and expertise the determination of how to achieve the stated objective. Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra, at 27, 28, 41-42; Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., GPOBCA 02-93 (May 19, 1995), slip op. at 57-58, 1995 WL 488488 (hereafter Professional Printing I). If the objective is not achieved, the failure "must be laid at [the contractor's] doorstep." Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra, at 41; see Aleutian Constructors v. United States, 24 Cl. Ct. 372 (1991). The Appellant argues that the contract should be read as containing only design specifications. It states that the contract language relied on by the Respondent-that the paper stock must be "suitable for use" on the Xerox 4090 printer-is ambiguous, but "can reasonably be interpreted as [a design specification] requiring only that the product meet the paper specifications recommended for Xerox Model 4090 printers in general."7 App. Brf. at 16. It asserts that its reading of the "suitable for use" provision as a design requirement should prevail in light of the well-established rule of contract interpretation that ambiguous language is to be construed against the drafter. The Board is not persuaded, however, that the provision in question was ambiguous or, if it was, that the ambiguity played a meaningful role here. First, the testimony of the Appellant's witnesses falls short of establishing that the Appellant had adopted the interpretation for which it now argues. The Appellant's Washington Metropolitan Area sales manager testified that he understood the term "suitable for use" to mean that the paper stock was recommended for the specified printer. HT-2 99. However, he then elaborated as follows: . . . the stock that we provided was suitable for that printer. The specification indicated you were looking for 24 pound paper. That was the paper we provided. So, in my understanding, that would be suitable for the printer. HT-2 99. It is not completely clear what the witness intended by this statement, but he appears to believe that complying with the recommended weight satisfied the "suitable for use" requirement. Regardless of what the witness meant, the value of his testimony is questionable as he admitted to a very limited role in the preparation of the Appellant's bid and in contract performance-he testified that while he oversaw the bidding process and supervised the individual who was directly responsible for bid preparation, he did not get involved in the "intimate details of every order," did not sign bids, and was not involved in contract performance until he was informed that problems had arisen. HT-2 88-93. On the other hand, the employee responsible for preparing and signing the Appellant's bid testified that he reviewed the specifications "very closely" and that he thought they meant that the Government "want[ed] the product to perform on the [specified] equipment." HT-2 34-35. Another employee of the Appellant, the manager of Materials Testing and Quality Control, did testify that the Champion paper selected for this contract conformed to the requirements of JCP Code 025 and that Champion identifies this paper as intended for use on the Xerox 4090, HT-2 159-60, but also stated: In looking at the proper paper, and glue, and process, and designing a form and everything, we . . . have to look at . . . what equipment it's going to be used on, if it's a laser printer . . . and how the form's going to be used . . . . We have to make sure that . . . our design is compatible with the use . . . . The testimony of these latter two witnesses does not support the Appellant's position, but rather suggests that the Appellant had a broader view of what the specification language meant than what is now being urged upon the Board. In short, the testimony overall is simply insufficient to establish that the Appellant based its bid and performance on its asserted narrow interpretation of the "suitable for use" language. The Appellant therefore is not entitled to rely on that interpretation now. MCSD Constr. Co., Inc., ASBCA 37226, 37239, 91-2 BCA ¶ 23,986. Second, the Board has recently ruled that language nearly identical to that at issue here is by its very nature a performance and not a design specification. In Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra, also involving a contract for cut forms for use by DFAS, the Board considered the word "suitable" in two different specification provisions. One provision, relating to packing, required the contractor to "[p] ack suitable per shipping container"; the other, following (as in this case) weight, size, and other specific design requirements, stated that the paper "must be suitable for use on a Xerox 4050 or 4090 printer . . . ." The Board considered both provisions to be performance specifications. Id. at 35, 43. The Board sees no reason to reach a different conclusion here. The Board is aware that while compliance with design or other stated requirements generally will not excuse a failure to meet a specific performance requirement, see, e.g., Costello Indus., Inc., ASBCA 28731, 89-3 BCA ¶ 22,090; Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra, at 35; Ahern Painting Contractors, Inc., DOTCAB 67-7, 68-1 BCA ¶ 6949; Inlet Co., ASBCA 9095, 1964 BCA 4093, in some cases where a contract contained both design and performance specifications the contractor was held to have satisfied the performance specification through its compliance with the other contract requirements. For example, in Metal Bldg. Specialties, Inc., ASBCA 8651, 1963 BCA ¶ 3,943, a contractor was held to have satisfied a performance specification when it passed the tests specified in the contract, even though there was a subsequent unexplained operational failure, while in Datametrics, Inc., ASBCA 16086, 74-2 BCA ¶ 10,742, a contractor who fabricated a product out of the components and in the manner specified in the contract was held to have satisfied the performance specification because it was understood that if the contractor obtained the specified parts and arranged them in the pattern and sequence specified, the "operational or performance characteristics would automatically follow." These holdings resulted from the particular wording of the specification provisions and contract terms involved. Here, the specifications, which are simple and direct, permit no such interpretation. After imposing weight, size and various other design requirements for the paper, they state: "Further, stock must be suitable for use on a Xerox Model 4090 . . . ." (Emphasis added.) The word "further" clearly reflects an intention to impose a requirement that is additional to the requirements already set forth. There is also nothing else in the specifications or the contract suggesting that the "suitable for use" performance requirement would be automatically satisfied by compliance with the design specifications. Accordingly, the Appellant's compliance with the design requirements of the specifications is not enough. It must also meet the contract performance requirement to furnish stock suitable for use on the Xerox 4090 printer. As stated above, the Respondent attempts to meet its burden of proving that the Appellant failed to meet this contract requirement by establishing that the Appellant's forms jammed on the printers during attempted production runs and that a production run was never successfully concluded with those forms. In so doing, the Respondent does not seek to establish why the jamming occurred.8 HT-1 73, 237, 281; Resp. Brf. at 10. It believes that because a performance specification is involved, it is entitled to rely on the fact that the jamming occurred as sufficient evidence of the Appellant's noncompliance with that specification. In the abstract there are two potential difficulties with that position. First, the cause of the jamming may not be attributable to the Appellant. Second, jamming is a relatively common occurrence 9 ("You have jamming with all forms." HT-1 at 278), so that the fact that some jamming occurs generally cannot, in the absence of some standard of nonacceptability, be the basis for a default termination. There are obviously many potential reasons for paper to jam in a printer for which a contractor could not be held responsible. For example, there may be a technical or other problem with the printer itself, or there may be operator error in the placement of the paper on the printer. There could also be a problem with the paper, such as curling or an inappropriate moisture content, that developed after delivery because of improper Government handling and storage of the paper. See Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra (where the paper-caused jamming was held to be not the Government's fault but the contractor's responsibility because it did not comply with a requirement to pack the forms in a manner suitable for preservation and storage). Thus, the Government's reliance on the "it doesn't work so it's the contractor's fault" approach carries with it the risk that "it doesn't work" will not itself establish that the contractor in fact defaulted on its performance obligations. Although no specific reason for the jamming has been authoritatively established, the Board is convinced by the testimony and record evidence that the jamming was caused by the forms as they were furnished by the Appellant and not by any other possible cause. In this regard, the testimony establishes that (1) the printers on which the forms were used had been routinely maintained, HT-1 260, and, other than when the Appellant's forms were used, operated properly, and (2) the paper was not subject to any unusual or improper storage or other handling by the Government and was handled and stored in the same manner as was the paper provided by the previous supplier. HT-1 147-49, 153-54, 219-20. There is also no suggestion that operator error was a cause of the jamming. Thus, notwithstanding the abstract concern, the Respondent's position that the forms furnished by the Appellant were somehow at fault is a reasonable one warranted by the facts and circumstances of this case. The other abstract difficulty is more problematic, however. It is not disputed that the Appellant's forms, to some degree, did work on the printers. After jamming on March 7 and some initial jamming during the March 23 test run, the forms ran without difficulty during the March 24 test run, and ran for approximately 2 to 2-1/2 hours during the April 5 production run, with approximately 50,000 forms processed successfully, before jamming started. HT-1 74, 76, 144; HT-2 102. They would also run again if the printers were allowed to cool down for about 20 minutes. HT-1 272. This was unacceptable to the DFAS because it was using the forms in a large, time-sensitive production run (430,000 forms) that didn't permit stopping production to allow the printers to cool. Rule 4 File, Tab D. The Appellant's contract, however, did not specify that the forms had to work on the 4090 printers in a non-stop mode until 430,000 or any other number of forms were processed. The contract stated only that the paper was to be "suitable for use" on those printers. The contract provided no clue as to how "suitable" was to be judged or, in the words of the Contracting Officer's termination letter, how "run satisfactorily on the specified equipment" was to be determined. One of the predecessor panels10 to this Board faced this type of situation in Elgin Business Forms, Inc., GPOCAB 10-84 (October 19, 1984), slip op., 1984 WL 148108, a case heavily relied on by the Appellant. Elgin had been awarded a contract for 270,000 6- part marginally punched continuous forms. The contract identified the printer on which the forms would be used and stated that the forms produced had to be "suitable for their intended use" and "ensure satisfactory continuous operation over makes, kinds of equipment, and usage specified." The customer agency reported that all 540 cartons of forms were unacceptable for reasons that included misalignment of the carbon which caused the paper to jam in the printer. A subsequent inspection, involving two cartons of forms, revealed that the paper holes did not line up with the carbon holes. In two subsequent tests, each also involving two cartons, jamming because of that misalignment occurred three times, zero times, four times, and two times, respectively. The panel overturned the ensuing termination for default, stating that the specifications were deficient because they did not contain a precise statement of the Respondent's performance requirements and "how it would test to determine conformity with those requirements." Id. at 5. The panel noted that it was "unaware of any product which runs continuously without ever stopping" and that the term "satisfactory" in the specifications "implied . . . a contemplated standard of operation which expects some stoppages." Id. at 7. The panel held that the inspection of two cartons out of 540 and the testing on two occasions of two cartons did not provide a proper basis for default because of the sample size (the panel heard testimony that 13 cartons would have been the appropriate test sample) and the absence from the specifications of any performance level the forms were required to meet, i.e., "how many stoppages constitute satisfactory?" Id. at 7. This Board has also previously been called upon to deal with the absence of standards in connection with a performance specification. In Professional Printing I, supra, the contractor was required to deliver 600,000 "Security Prescription Form" pads. The specifications required the forms to be manufactured in such a way that the word "void" would appear three times on any electrostatically reproduced copy of the form. Before shipping, the contractor successfully tested the forms on its own copying equipment as well as on several other machines. However, after delivery the customer agency complained that the forms did "not void," and when GPO tested the forms "void" failed to appear on the copies made on three different copy machines. GPO rejected the initial shipment and ordered the forms to be reprinted. The Board, endorsing the holding in Elgin, held that GPO improperly rejected the forms because the contract provided no standards by which to judge the acceptability of the forms with respect to the "void" requirement. The Board, noting that in subsequent testing success was achieved on all nine copiers used by the contractor but on only one of five used by GPO, pointed out that differences in the machines, rather than any defect in the forms, could have produced that result. The Board stated that "[i]f the Respondent intended the 'VOID' pantograph to reproduce on all photocopiers, it should have expressly told the Contractor so. . . . On the other hand, if the Respondent . . . meant to indicate that product acceptability could be something less than total success with respect to copying, then it had an obligation to make that clear to the Contractor; e.g., identify which brand of photocopiers or range of machines would be used, or establish a failure rate for copying . . . ." Professional Printing I at 75. (Emphasis in original.) These two decisions reflect the established rule that before the Government may reject a contractor's product, it must first establish specific, quantifiable, objective, and firm criteria indicating the level of quality which the product is expected to meet. Custom Printing Co., GPOBCA 28-94 (March 12, 1997), slip op. at 70, 1997 WL 128720, recon. denied, July 10, 1997, 1997 WL 742505; A & E Copy Center, GPOBCA 38-92 (September 25, 1996), slip op. at 19, 1996 WL 812881. In the absence of such criteria, Government agencies will not be permitted to reject a contractor's deliverables on the basis of some subjective determination of unacceptability or noncompliance since it obviously would be unfair to "leave a contractor 'in the dark' with respect to the quality standards it is expected to strive toward, and then rely on unclear, subjective, or indefinite standards to reject a product." A & E Copy Center, supra, at 19-20; Professional Printing I at 69. Thus, in cases where the necessary criteria were missing, boards of contract appeals have unhesitatingly overturned contracting officer decisions to reject (1) discolored freeze dehydrated pears, Wornick Family Foods Co., ASBCA 41317, 41318, 41389, 94-2 BCA ¶ 26, 808 (no contract provision for rejecting fruit for discoloration); (2) contractor- provided briefings, John L. Hall dba Taiga Resource Consultants, AGBCA 92-217-1, 93-3 BCA ¶ 26,212 (contract criteria not specific enough to support a deduction for a failure to provide sufficiently thorough briefings); (3) a contractor's source of rock, Shirley Contracting Corp. and ATEC Contracting Corp., ENGBCA 4650, 85-3 BCA ¶ 18,214 (no objective performance criteria combined with use of standards exceeding those prevailing and accepted in industry); (4) grave liners for failure to prevent sinkage in graves, Chandler-Wilbert Vault Co., VACAB 1444, 80-2 BCA ¶ 14,682 (no specified test or standard in the contract for sunken graves); (5) an electrical harness first article because of too many air bubbles, Mid-American Eng'g & Mfg., ASBCA 20939, 78-1 BCA ¶ 12,870 (criterion that there be no or almost no bubbles too indefinite); and (6) a printed manual because of the presence of binding stubs, Custom Printing Co., supra (no contract provision or quality standard prohibiting the stubs). See also A & E Copy Center, supra (product could not be rejected because of poor quality where no quality standard was specified). As stated above, nothing in the contract explicitly establishes a standard or criterion for determining the degree of paper-caused jamming that would be acceptable. Neither can the Board find a relevant criterion in the Respondent's Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program (QATAP), GPO Publication 310.1 (revised November 1989), incorporated by reference into the contract. Rule 4 File, Tab A, p. 5. There is also no evidence of an industry standard. See Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra, at 47 (where a contract fails to establish acceptance criteria, the standard against which contract work is measured is "the standard customary within the industry.") Of course, the Board, even in the absence of the needed criteria, will not interpret the contract in a way that produces an "unreasonable and bizarre" result. Professional Printing I at 51. Accordingly, under the circumstances here, if the forms did not run on the DFAS printers at all the Board would have no hesitation in finding that contract requirements were not met since the contract clearly required forms that would run on the specified printers. In other words, had the forms continually jammed up at the outset of the production run the Appellant would have been hard put to establish that the forms were not defective. The jamming that led to the default termination, however, did not occur at the outset of the production run. It occurred after thousands of forms had been processed. While DFAS clearly wanted and expected to receive forms that would not unduly jam in the midst of its production runs, an eminently reasonable position, the contract did not establish any specific large production run requirements and the record is devoid of any indication that the Appellant, furnishing these forms to DFAS for the first time, HT-1 20-21, 174, otherwise knew or should have known of that requirement. That is, there is no testimony or other evidence establishing, for example, that all DFAS requirements or DFAS requirements for Z-fold forms were known to involve only large, continuous production runs, or that the specified printer is used only for such runs. In fact, the testimony indicates the opposite: one of the Respondent's own witnesses, a DFAS employee, testified that there came a time when "we knew we wouldn't need [the forms] for our big production runs. Our plans were to use those for other smaller jobs that we had until we used up the stock."11 HT-1 235. In essence, what we have here is a customer agency with a need for forms that do not jam during high-volume production runs and a contractor that was told on what equipment the forms would be used but not of the nature or extent of the production runs for which the forms would be used and not of any minimum performance requirement regarding jamming. In this regard, the Board has noted that perfection is a standard that is not often achieved, so that allowance must be made for some "acceptable level of imperfect performance," a point recognized in both the Respondent's QATAP and the general rule that performance specifications are not as strictly enforced as design specifications. Professional Printing I at 53. The Contracting Officer testified that he was not expecting "absolute perfection," but that "the vast majority of forms, almost the entirety of the forms would be expected to run." HT-1 at 65. Since there was no apparent single production requirement for the use of all 3 million forms furnished under the contract, the Board assumes that this statement means that the Contracting Officer expected that the forms needed for each production run would run with only minimal jamming. And that, of course, illustrates the problem here-the anticipated size of the production runs and the expectation that "almost the entirety of the forms" would run without difficulty regardless of the size of the runs was not communicated to the Appellant; the expectation is also too vague and indefinite to be a meaningful standard. Unlike the quandary Justice Stewart faced over efforts to establish a standard for judging obscene material ("I know it when I see it." Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197 (1964) (concurring opinion)), this is not a situation where a meaningful standard could not have been articulated. The solicitation and contract could have specified the production run levels anticipated for the forms, thus putting the Appellant on notice of the performance that would be required of the forms. The solicitation and contract also could have established a specific failure rate with respect to jamming. In this respect, the Board notes that the General Services Administration, in a Commercial Item Description (CID) (available for use by all federal agencies) for paper used with copiers and laser printers, has been doing just that for years. The CID specifies a performance test on a specific type of machine-a high speed copier making more than 85 copies per minute-and provides that "[t]here shall be no more than one paper caused jam per 5000 copies with single sided copying . . . ." CID A-A-1912C, April 8, 1994, ¶ 3.3.1. (An earlier version of the CID, A-A-1912B, November 9, 1983, contained the same requirement.) Other agencies have imposed similar requirements. See Rohr-Plessey Corp., PSBCA 36, 76-2 BCA ¶ 11,995, where the functional requirements for a mail sorting machine provided that "[m]achine caused jams shall not exceed one minute for one slot [of 48] . . . for each 15 minutes machine running time." The Respondent seeks to distinguish Elgin and escape the consequences of its holding by asserting that (1) "the paper jamming which occurred was excessive, resulted in serious production delays, and . . . Respondent was unable to complete a single production run using Appellant's product," and (2) the "characterization of [this] performance . . . as not satisfactory was based upon the input, observations, and opinions of several experienced and knowledgeable persons. Resp. Brf. at 7. The Board is not persuaded by this argument. Since the contract contained no standard for measuring the performance of the forms and since a production run of approximately 50,000 was possible, with additional forms processing possible after a 20-minute break in production to allow the printers to cool down, the Board is simply unable to conclude on this record that the jamming and delay DFAS experienced prior to and during the April 5 production run automatically leads to the conclusion that the contractually- required performance was not satisfactory or that the forms furnished were not suitable for use on the specified printers. The Board also has some concern about the circumstances of the default termination. It appears to the Board that the default was motivated to some extent by the DFAS decision to discontinue its in-house printing of the military pay statements and to contract with commercial sources for that work. This changeover had been planned for some time prior to the award of the contract to the Appellant, and although there was an anticipated implementation date in May or June of 1994, HT-1 80-82, 158-60, the problems DFAS encountered with the Appellant's forms "hastened its decision to change over to the new system," HT-1 81, which it did by mid-April, HT-1 159-60, or mid-May. HT-1 229. Relying on these facts and on the Contracting Officer's termination letter which stated that the contract was being terminated "because the forms did not run satisfactorily . . . and the Government no longer has a requirement for these forms," the Appellant asserts that the default termination was a "pre- text" for an actual termination for convenience. The second part of the quoted language is certainly susceptible to that interpretation. The Contracting Officer, however, testified that in using that language he was not specifying a separate basis for default, but only that there would be no reprocurement with its potential for reprocurement costs to be assessed against the Appellant. HT-1 120-22. This explanation is consistent with the Contracting Officer's May 3 memorandum to the Contract Review Board proposing that the "contract be terminated for default with no excess reprocurement costs assessed against the contractor as the government no longer requires this item." Rule 4 File, Tab G. The Board finds the Contracting Officer's testimony to be credible. Nonetheless, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that if the need for the Z-fold forms had remained, DFAS and the Contracting Officer would not have been quite so quick to give up on the Appellant's forms. The Contracting Officer testified that he and DFAS considered it a waste of time to give the Appellant an opportunity to observe another run of its forms and to try to determine the cause of the jamming problem because they considered the matter to be a quality assurance problem of the Appellant's, the correction of which would require having the forms redone, and, in light of the new contracting out approach, they were not sure that they would ever do another production run, which would mean there would be no need for redone forms. HT-1, 55-56, 101-109. Implicit in this explanation is that if DFAS had continued with in-house production, there would have been a need for the forms, and the Respondent, instead of terminating the Appellant's contract for default, might have provided the Appellant with an opportunity to determine the cause of the jamming and to fix it, which might or might not have involved redoing the forms. In this regard, the Contracting Officer, when asked if it is GPO "policy or practice to try and resolve problems that come up in the job," responded "Sure. Certainly." HT-1 101. The contract's "Inspection and Tests" clause, supra, in paragraph (f), also gives the Contracting Officer the discretion to either reject or require correction of nonconforming supplies. It appear to the Board that the Contracting Officer allowed DFAS' unhappiness with the Appellant's forms, along with DFAS' new contracting out approach, to essentially take away that discretion and motivate him to simply get rid of the Appellant. The Federal Circuit takes a dim view of default terminations based on such motivations. See Darwin Constr. Co. v. United States, 811 F.2d 593 (Fed. Cir. 1987). Also, while the fact that the Government no longer needs the contracted for item cannot preclude an otherwise proper default termination, Artisan Elecs. Corp., ASBCA 14154, 73-1 BCA ¶ 9,807, aff'd, 449 F.2d 606 (Ct. Cl. 1974), that fact by itself is not a proper basis for a default termination, but rather for a termination for convenience. See John Cibinic, Jr. and Ralph C. Nash, Jr., Administration of Government Contracts 1076 (Third Ed. 1995). V. ORDER For the foregoing reasons, the Board concludes that the termination for default of the Appellant's contract was improper. The termination for default is converted to a termination for the convenience of the Government and is remanded to the Contracting Officer with instructions to negotiate an appropriate payment settlement. See Graphics Image, Inc., GPOBCA 13-92 (August 31, 1992), slip op., 1992 WL 487875. In negotiating that settlement, the Contracting Officer may consider any appropriate discounts to which the Respondent would be entitled. The Contracting Officer's final decision terminating the Appellant's contract for default is REVERSED, the appeal is GRANTED, and the matter is REMANDED to the Contracting Officer for the negotiation of an appropriate termination for convenience settlement. It is so Ordered. March 23, 1998 Ronald Berger Ad Hoc Chairman GPO Board of Contract Appeals _______________ 1 The Contracting Officer's appeal file, assembled pursuant to Rule 4 of the Board's Rules of Practice and Procedure, was delivered to the Board on August 26, 1994. It is referred to herein as the Rule 4 File, with an appropriate Tab letter also indicated. The Rule 4 File consists of Tabs A through I. 2 A hearing was held in this matter on April 11 and 12, 1995. There is a separate transcript for each day of the hearing. The Board will refer to the transcripts as HT-1 and HT-2 with appropriate page citations. 3 The Respondent's regulations require the contracting officer to seek concurrence from the Contract Review Board before terminating a contract for default. Printing Procurement Regulation, GPO Pub. 305.3 (Rev. 10-90), Chap. I, Sec. 10, ¶ 4.b.(i). 4 In addition to the Rule 4 File and the hearing transcripts, this decision is based on: (a) the Appellant's letter of August 24, 1994 (Complaint); (b) the Respondent's Answer; (c) Appellant's Prehearing Brief (App. Pr. Brf.); (d) Respondent's Brief (Resp. Brf.); (e) Appellant's Post-Hearing Brief (App. Brf.); (f) Respondent's Reply Brief (Resp. R.Brf.); and (g) Appellant's Post-Trial Reply Brief (App. R.Brf.). 5 The Respondent paid the full contract price for the forms, and subsequently recouped its payment through offsets against other funds due the Appellant for other work. HT-1 at 72, 113-14; HT-2 at 87-88. 6 A latent defect is one that existed at time of acceptance but could not have been discovered by observation or reasonable inspection. ABM/Ansley Business Materials v. General Servs. Admin., GSBCA 9367, 93-1 BCA ¶ 25,246. There is nothing in the record suggesting that any defect was or would have been apparent through a careful observation of the forms delivered by the Appellant. While there was testimony that the Appellant's forms were "lighter" or not as thick as the forms furnished by the previous supplier, HT-1 at 286, 289-90, there is no evidence that this physical difference indicated a defect that would cause the forms to jam. See Norair Eng'g Corp., ENGBCA 5244, 92-2 BCA ¶ 25,009 (where the Government knew that the contractor was using a substitute material but didn't know that the substitute material was defective). There was also no obligation on the part of the Respondent to test the delivered forms. While the respondent had the right to test under the "Inspection and Tests" clause, it was not required to do so, and its non-exercise of its right to do so did not relieve the Appellant of its responsibility to inspect and to deliver "only supplies that have been inspected . . . and have been found by the contractor to be in conformity with contract requirements." See Wickham Contracting Co., ASBCA 32392, 88-2 BCA ¶ 20,559 (where the duty to inspect and test was the contractor's and defects were not discernable through a visual inspection). 7 The Appellant states that "[t]he Champion paper used by Standard Register did in fact meet these recommended specifications." App. Brf. at 16. 8 The customer agency believed the problem to be the reaction of the adhesive on the forms to the heat generated by the printers, Rule 4 File, Tab D; HT-1 at 286, as well as the relative thinness of the Appellant's forms. HT-1 at 286, 289. However, when the Appellant measured the thickness of its forms and of the forms from the previous supplier, they were found to be "virtually identical." HT-2 at 126. No testing was performed on the adhesive and it has not been established on this record that the adhesive was the source of the jamming problem. 9 The Government typically seeks to minimize the effects of paper jamming rather than to completely eliminate it. See, e.g., Information Int'l, Inc., 59 Comp. Gen. 640 (1980), 80-2 CPD ¶ 100 (paper jams evaluated during benchmarking of scanning equipment); A.B. Dick Co., B-220144, Nov. 26, 1985, 85-2 CPD ¶ 606 (agency preferred printing equipment that came with a paper jamming detection system). 10 Prior to the creation of this Board in 1984, ad hoc panels heard and decided disputes between GPO and its contractors. The Board cites the decisions of these panels as GPOCAB. While the Board does not consider itself bound by the decisions of the ad hoc panels, its policy is to follow the rulings where applicable and appropriate. See Rose Printing, Inc., GPOBCA 32-95 (December 16, 1996), slip op. at 27 n.28, 1996 WL 812880. 11 That DFAS has small as well as large production runs is reflected in Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., supra, where the appellant in that case complained that it "had no way of knowing that the material was to be stored over a period of a year or more, and used only at a rate of 50,000 or so per month, as opposed to being used all on one job." Id. at 11.