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

In the Matter of             )
                             )
the Appeal of                )
                             )
SWANSON PRINTING COMPANY     )   Docket No. GPO BCA 27-94
Program D404-M               )
Purchase Order 93869         )
Print Order No. 86087        )

   DECISION AND ORDER ACCEPTING APPEAL
   AND DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS

   On July 6, 1995, the Board conducted a prehearing telephone
   conference in the above-captioned appeal of Swanson Printing
   Company (Appellant or Contractor), 5205 York Road, Baltimore,
   Maryland 21212.  GPO Instruction 110.12, Subject:  Board of
   Contract Appeals Rules of Practice and Procedure, dated
   September 17, 1984, Rule 10 (Board Rules).  During the
   conference, the Board, sua sponte, questioned whether the
   Notice of Appeal was timely filed in this case.1  See Report
   of Prehearing Telephone Conference, dated July 10, 1995, p. 2
   (RPTC).  Thus, the Board observed that although the
   Contracting Officer had issued his final decision rejecting
   the Appellant's equitable adjustment claim on April 5, 1994,
   the Contractor's challenge was dated July 27, 1994, which was
   more than 90 days after the date of the final decision
   letter.2  RPTC, p. 2.  Based on the ensuing discussion, the
   Board ultimately determined to resolve the jurisdictional
   issue before considering the merits of the appeal.3  RPTC, p.
   3.  Accordingly, it established a schedule for the Respondent
   to file a motion to dismiss, for the Appellant to respond to
   the motion, and for GPO to reply to the Contractor's
   response.4  Id.  Pursuant to that schedule, the Board has
   received the following documents from the parties: (1)
   "Respondent's Motion to Dismiss with Points and Authorities in
   Support Thereof" (Motion), dated July 28, 1995; (2)
   "Respondent's Supplement to Motion to Dismiss" (Supplement),
   dated August 1, 1995; and (3) "Appellant's Opposition to
   Respondent's Motion to Dismiss and Respondent's Supplement to
   Motion to Dismiss" (Opposition), dated August 8, 1995.  The
   Board has carefully considered the Motion, the Supplement, and
   the Opposition, and for the reasons which follow DENIES the
   Motion.

   I. STATEMENT OF FACTS

   The facts pertaining to the jurisdictional question are
   essentially undisputed and are set forth here only to the
   extent necessary for this decision.

   1.   On July 12, 1993, the Respondent issued an Invitation for
   Bids (IFB) for Program D404-M, which involves the production
   of two categories of saddle-stitched and perfect bound legal
   publications (i.e., briefs) for the Department of Justice (DOJ
   or customer-agency) (R4 File, Tab A, pp. 1, 5).5  As indicated
   in the IFB, Program D404-M covers operations such as
   composition (Category 1 only), film-making, printing, binding,
   packing, and delivery. (R4 File, Tab A, p. 5).  The contract
   resulting from the IFB was to be a multiple award term
   contract for the period beginning with the date of award and
   ending July 31, 1994 (R4 File, Tab A, p. 1).
   2.   On July 30, 1993, the Contractor, who has done Program
   D404-M work before, see R.C. Swanson Printing and Typesetting
   Co., GPO BCA 15-90 (March 6, 1992), 1992 WL 487874,
   supplemental decision (July 1, 1993), 1993 WL526638, reconsid.
   granted (December 20, 1993),6 submitted its bid to the
   Respondent (R4 File, Tab B).7  Thereafter, on August 10, 1993,
   GPO issued Purchase Order No. 93869 to the Appellant making it
   one of the contractors for Program D404-M for the term
   beginning August 14, 1993, and ending July 31, 1994 (R4 File,
   Tab D).8

   3.   On January 3, 1994, the DOJ issued Print Order 86087 to
   the Appellant for the production of 208 copies of the Appendix
   only for a brief in the matter of United States v. National
   Treasury Employees Union ((R4 File, Tab E).  Among other
   things, the Print Order established a delivery date of January
   19, 1994, and required the Contractor to submit eight (8) sets
   of page proofs to the customer-agency prior to printing the
   Appendix.  In that regard, the Print Order stated that proofs
   were due by January 7, 1994, and would be returned to the
   Appellant by January 18, 1994.

   4.   In accordance with the specifications, the Contractor
   prepared the required proofs of the Appendix and submitted
   them to DOJ.  On January 14, 1994, the customer-agency
   returned the corrected Appendix proofs to the Appellant for
   printing (R4 File, Tab F).  However, with the corrected
   Appendix the DOJ also sent the Contractor 23 additional
   manuscript pages-the brief's Petition-for typesetting and
   preparation of proofs (R4 File, Tab F).  The customer-agency
   asked the Appellant to send it eight (8) proofs of the
   Petition by January 18, 1994, so that the final printed brief
   would be ready by the contract due date of January 19, 1994.9
   Since the Appendix and the Petition, when bound together,
   constituted the complete brief, the Contractor was instructed
   to "wait until Monday for the o.k. to print the Appendix" (R4
   File, Tab F).  Also that same day, the DOJ asked GPO to make
   the appropriate change to its printing and binding requisition
   (R4 File, Tab G).

   5.   On January 27, 1994, the Appellant submitted a voucher
   for payment of the completed work (R4 File, Tab H).  Included
   in its bill were two charges totaling $3,710.00 for a "2nd
   printing" of the brief.  These charges were disallowed by
   GPO's Financial Management Section, and the Appellant was
   instructed to contact the Contracting Officer (R4 File, Tab
   H).  Accordingly, on February 18, 1994, the Contractor wrote
   to Richard Weiss, the Contracting Officer for Program D404-M
   during this period, see Supplement, Declaration of Richard
   Weiss,  1 (Weiss Declaration), contending that the charges
   for the second printing were appropriate (R4 File, Tab I).
   The crux of the Appellant's argument was that it had printed
   the Appendix, as corrected on January 14, 1994, after
   receiving assurances from DOJ's representatives that there
   would be no other changes, only to discover when the proofs of
   the Petition were subsequently returned that the customer-
   agency had also made additional alterations in the Appendix
   (R4 File, Tab I).  Since it had to print the Appendix a second
   time in order to accomplish these extra changes, the
   Contractor believed its charges were justified under the
   circumstances (R4 File, Tab I).  On March 29, 1994, the
   Appellant sent a follow-up letter to the Contracting Officer
   about this matter, and asked Weiss to expedite payment of its
   claim which "is properly due" (R4 File, Tab N).

   6.   In the interim, the Contracting Officer had contacted
   those DOJ employees involved with this contract, and was told
   that the customer-agency had not authorized two printings of
   the Appendix (R4 File, Tabs K and L).  Accordingly, by letter
   dated April 5, 1995, expressly entitled "Notice of Final
   Decision," Weiss denied the Appellant's claim for recovery of
   the costs of printing the Appendix a second time (R4 File, Tab
   O).  In making his determination, the Contracting Officer
   relied on two things: (a) the Contractor's inability to supply
   copies from the first printing; and (b) any other supportable
   evidence showing that the reprint was both necessary and
   authorized (R4 File, Tab O).  The Contracting Officer's letter
   also contained the following standard paragraph:

         This is the final decision of the Contracting Officer.
         You may appeal this decision to the U.S. Government
         Printing Office Board of Contract Appeals, Washington,
         DC 20401.  If you decide to appeal, you must, within 90
         days from the date you receive this decision, mail or
         otherwise furnish written notice to the Board of
         Contract Appeals and provide a copy to the Contracting
         Officer from whose decision the appeal is taken.  The
         notice shall indicate that an appeal is intended,
         reference this decision, and identify the contract by
         number.

See R4 File, Tab O.  See also Board Rules, Rule 1(a).

   7.   The record shows that the Appellant received Weiss'
   letter on April 8, 1994.  See Motion, Exhibit 1.  Therefore,
   counting April 9, 1994, as the first day of the 90-day appeal
   period, see Board Rules, Preface to Rules,  III.B, the
   Contractor's appeal should have been "mailed or otherwise
   furnished to the Board" by July 8, 1994.  Board Rules, Rule
   1(a).

   8.   On June 13, 1994, 66 days after it received the
   Contracting Officer's final decision letter, the Appellant
   wrote to Weiss concerning his determination to reject the
   Contractor's claim for payment of the additional work
   performed on Print Order 86087, as well as on another job-
   Print Order 86144 (R4 File, Tab P).10  As explained by the
   Appellant, in pertinent part:

         . . . Both P.O.'s 86144 and 86087 contained back to
         press charges.  PO 86087 consisted of a memorandum from
         the Dept. of Justice okaying a job to print which was
         then later changed, after it had been printed but before
         it was delivered.  Your position was that we needed to
         obtain authorization from the agency for back to press
         orders and that your could not authorize such a thing.
         Now we have PO 86144 where the agency requested an
         additional 100 books after the first order had been
         printed and they did send a "REQUEST FOR CHANGE ON
         PRINTING AND BINDING REQUISITION" dated May 24, 1994.
         In their "Request" they stated . . . "This is to
         authorize back to press for an additional 100 copies."
         Both items were performed by us and were substantiated
         by printed sample and receipts showing delivery.  We
         billed under the pricing of the contract and included a
         copy of the "Request" from the Dept. of Justice.  You
         have stopped payment for this work claiming it was
         authorized by you.  Your newest verbal decision creates
         a myriad of problems that must be dealt with.

See R4 File, Tab P, p. 1.  [Emphasis added.]  Accordingly, the
Appellant asked the Contracting Officer to clarify his position
with respect to Program D404-M by answering certain questions,
including, in pertinent part:

   * * * * * * * * * *

         3.  Are Print Orders able to be changed, "after" they
         have been issued, by the issuer?

         4. Does the Contract . . . establish rules for changing
         a Print Order that does not alter the contract but
         merely adds or subtracts from the work originally
         requested? i.e., change 200 copies to 300 copies.

   * * * * * * * * * *

         6. Keeping in mind that work ordered at 9:00 p.m. and
         available for pick-up even later is usually due the next
         morning at 9:00 a.m., is it your position that no work
         should be done without authorization in writing from you
         that in any way varies from the original print order . .
         . ?

   * * * * * * * * * *

         8. Please provide your specific reasons for refusing to
         pay for PO's 86144 and 86087, citing the Contract to
         substantiate your position.

See R4 File, Tab P, p. 2.  [Emphasis added.]  See also R4 File,
Tab R ("The reason for my letter of June 13 was to clarify issues
. . .".).  The Contractor also asked Weiss for a quick response,
"since these are not new questions since your have apparently
already answered them in withholding payment . . .".  Id.

   9.   On June 17, 1994, 70 days after the Contractor had
   received the final decision letter, the Contracting Officer
   wrote back to the Appellant and restated his position with
   regard to the disputed Print Orders (R4 File, Tab Q).  With
   respect to Print Order 86087, specifically, Weiss said:

         . . . In your letter you state that my position was that
         Swanson Printing needed to obtain authorization from the
         agency for back to press orders and that I could not
         authorize such a thing.

         I have reviewed my Final Decision Letter on Print Order
         86087, dated April 5, 1994, and can find nothing that
         would support the above statement.

See R4 File, Tab Q, p. 1.  [Emphasis added.]

   10.  On June 23, 1994, 76 days after receipt of the final
   decision letter, the Appellant responded to the Contracting
   Officer's letter, and among other things, said, in pertinent
   part:

         In regard to PO 86087, I must request that all of the
         materials that were submitted to substantiate our bill
         be returned to us so that I may highlight the proof for
         you since you obviously have taken the time to review
         the material submitted with the bill.  Once I have it in
         my possession I will reconstruct the events that
         occurred and resubmit to you with the written
         instructions by the Department of Justice.

See R4 File, Tab R.

   11.  On July 6, 1994, 88 days from the time it had received
   the Contracting Officer's final decision, the Appellant wrote
   another letter to Weiss concerning the disputed Purchase
   Orders (R4 File, Tab S).  In that correspondence, the
   Contractor stated the following with regard to Purchase Order
   86087:

         . . . I have finally received the material back from
         your office that clearly supports the fact that the
         changes were made after the OK to print and as such
         required a second printing.  I assume that you had
         reviewed all of these materials in issuing your decision
         so I must now request that you reconsider your decision
         based on the clear proof before us, or in the
         alternative, reissue your decision stating the facts as
         you see them and indicate what part of the documents led
         you to that conclusion so that we may appeal this matter
         to the Board of Contract Appeals.

See R4 File, Tab S, p. 2.  [Emphasis added.]  The record
indicates that the Appellant's letter, which was postmarked in
Baltimore, Maryland on July 7, 1994, was received by Weiss on or
after July 9, 1994.  See Supplement, Weiss Declaration,  3.

   12.  On July 13, 1994, 95 days from the date the Appellant
   received the Contracting Officer's final decision, Weiss sent
   a letter to the Contractor which said the following:

         This is in response to your letter of July 6, 1994 in
         which you request that I reconsider my final decision on
         your claim for Print Order 86087.

         I have again at your request, reviewed my final
         decision, and find it to be both correct, and also
         perfectly clear as to why your claim was denied.

See R4 File, Tab T.  [Emphasis added.]

   13.  On July 27, 1994, 109 days after the Contracting Officer
   initially issued his final decision about Print Order 86087,
   the Appellant sent Weiss a letter "requesting an appeal" of
   the matter to the Board (R4 File, Tab U).11  The record also
   shows that the Contracting Officer promptly forwarded the
   appeal to the Board, where it was docketed on August 12, 1994.
   See R4 File, Tab V; Docket Entry No. 2.

   II. QUESTION PRESENTED

   The only issue in this proceeding is whether, under these
   facts, was the appeal from the Contracting Officer's final
   decision timely filed so that the Board can assert
   jurisdiction over the Appellant's claim?

   III. POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES12

   The Respondent opposes the Board's assertion of jurisdiction
   in this case on the simplest of grounds, namely, the Appellant
   did not file its Notice of Appeal with the Board within 90
   days of its receipt of the Contracting Officer's final
   decision, as required by both the contract and the Board
   Rules.13  See RPTC, p. 2; Motion, pp. 4-5 (citing, R4 File,
   Tab A, p. 2, incorporating by reference GPO Contract Terms,
   Solicitation Provisions, Supplemental Specifications, and
   Contract Clauses, GPO Publication 310.2, effective December 1,
   987 (Rev. 9-88)  5(b) (Disputes) (hereinafter GPO Contract
   Terms); Board Rules, Rule 1(a)).  The Government notes that,
   historically, the Board has strictly applied the 90-day filing
   rule.  See Motion, p. 5 (citing Ace Duplicating Company, GPO
   BCA 44-92 (February 1, 1993); Moore Business Forms and Systems
   Division, GPO BCA 3-86 (February 25, 1987, 1987 WL 228968).
   Nonetheless, it also recognizes that, under certain specific
   factual circumstances, the Board may toll the running of the
   time limits for filing an appeal, where there are specific or
   equitable reasons for doing so.  Id (citing Appeal of DiLine
   Litho, Inc., GPOCAB 77-3 (January 24, 1978), 1978 WL 22341
   [citing Maney Aircraft Parts, Inc. v. United States, 479 F.2d
   1350, 1353 (Ct. Cl. 1973); Monroe M. Tapper and Associates v.
   United States, 458 F.2d 66 (Ct. Cl. 1972), appeal after
   remand, 514 F.2d 1003 (1973)]).14  However, GPO contends that
   the Contractor has not demonstrated the requisite good cause
   for not having filed its appeal on time in this case.  See
   Motion, p. 6.  The Respondent also argues that the Appellant's
   experience in litigating appeals before the Board and the
   Courts precludes it from claiming that it  is unfamiliar with
   the Board's rules or the appeal process, including the filing
   time limits.  Id (citing, Richard C. Swanson and Larry A.
   Ford, d.b.a. Swanson Printing and Typesetting Co. v. United
   States, C.A. 94-185C (Fed. Cl)).  While it acknowledges that a
   contractor's request for reconsideration can also stop the 90-
   day clock, the Government states that the Contractor did not
   seek reconsideration of the final decision until the 89th day
   of the appeal period (July 6, 1994).  Id.  Apart from
   believing that the reconsideration request could not have
   reached the Contracting Officer until after the appeal period
   had lapsed, the Respondent also contends that the Appellant
   could not have had a reasonable or objectively demonstrable
   belief Weiss was, in fact, reconsidering his final decision on
   the 90th day, or that the Contractor's letter had even been
   received.  See Motion, pp. 6-7 (citing Rainbow Construction
   Co., Inc., ASBCA No. 48196, 95-1 BCA  27,580).15  In that
   regard, the GPO dismisses the Appellant's communications with
   the Contracting Officer between June 13, 1994, and July 6,
   1994, as no more than "expressions of disagreement" with the
   final decision, and claims that nothing in Weiss' responses to
   the Contractor's letters amounts to a decision on
   reconsideration.  See Motion, p. 6, fn. 4.  Furthermore, the
   Government asserts that the Contracting Officer's replies to
   the Appellant before July 13, 1994, reveal no indication
   whatsoever that he intended to change his April final
   decision, or that he was reconsidering the decision at all.
   See Motion, p. 7, fn. 5.  Accordingly, the Respondent submits
   that no tolling of the 90-day filing period occurred in this
   case, and asks the Board to dismiss the untimely appeal for
   lack of jurisdiction.

   The Appellant concedes that if April 8, 1994-the date it
   received the Contracting Officer's final decision letter of
   April 5, 1994-is considered the starting point of the 90-day
   appeal period under the Board Rules, then its Notice of Appeal
   was untimely filed.  However, the Contractor contends that the
   Contracting Officer's April letter was not a "final decision"
   in fact, and that it had asked Weiss to reconsider the matter.
   See RPTC, p. 2; Opposition, p. 2.  The Appellant believes that
   the Contracting Officer's actions between April 5, 1994, and
   July 13, 1994, were inconsistent with the Government's
   position that the April letter was the decision which started
   the clock on the appeal period.  Id.  In that regard, the
   Contractor observes that the appeal file contains an exchange
   of correspondence between the parties between April and July,
   in which the claim was actively discussed.  See RPTC, p. 2.
   In addition, the Appellant notes that it talked with the
   Contracting Officer on the telephone during this period, and
   says that Weiss was well aware that Appellant was seeking
   return of the original documents to submit them as proof of
   Appellant's position.  See Opposition, p. 2.  The Contractor
   asserts that its reconsideration letter of July 6, 1994,
   proves that the communications between the parties after April
   5, 1994, amounted to a "waiver" of the original 90-day appeal
   period.  See Opposition, pp. 2, 3.  It also contends that the
   fact the letter was not received by the Contracting Officer
   until on or after July 9, 1994, is irrelevant.  See
   Opposition, p. 2.  Under the rules, the 90-day appeal period
   can be tolled by mailing, and in this case, as the Respondent
   admits, the reconsideration letter was postmarked July 7,
   1994, which was within the time limits established by the
   rules.  See Opposition, pp. 2, 3.  As for the Government's
   reliance on Rainbow Construction Co., Inc., the Appellant
   argues that the R4 File clearly shows that it has met the
   requisite test enunciated by the ASBCA in that case by
   "showing it reasonably or objectively could have concluded
   that the contracting officer's decision was being [re]
   considered."  See Opposition, p. 2.  Thus, under the law, the
   Contracting Officer's April 5, 1994, "final decision" was not
   final at all, but merely preliminary.  Id.  The Contractor
   rejects the Respondent's attempt to use its prior appeals to
   the Board and its pending claim before the Federal Claims
   Court as evidence of awareness  of the appropriate time
   limits.  Id.  Rather, the Appellant states that as a non-
   lawyer appearing pro se in this case, it must rely on its
   layman's understanding of the rules and procedures of the
   Board, which tells it that the appeal clock stopped running
   while the Contracting Officer reconsidered his decision.  See
   Opposition, pp. 2-3.  Finally, the Contractor submits that the
   Contracting Officer's letter of July 13, 1994, was a "new"
   final decision, which began a new 90-day appeal period.  See
   Opposition, p. 3.  Accordingly, since July 13, 1994, not April
   5, 1994, is the critical date for the purposes of jurisdiction
   in this case, the Board may hear the appeal because the Notice
   of Appeal was filed within 14 days after this "new" final
   decision was issued.  See RPTC, pp. 2-3; Opposition, p. 3.

   IV. DECISION

   After a close review of the record and the arguments presented
   by the parties in the Motion, the Supplement, and the
   Opposition, the Board has concluded that: (a) the Appellant's
   July 6, 1994, letter to the Contracting Officer constitutes a
   validly filed, timely Notice of Appeal; and (b) regardless of
   the effect of the Contractor's letter of July 6, 1994, the
   Contracting Officer's actions between April 5, 1994, and July
   13, 1994, gave a reasonable appearance that he was
   reconsidering his final decision.

   A. The letter of July 6, 1994

   Like all other contract appeals boards, the Board's
   jurisdiction is triggered by an appeal from the final decision
   of a GPO contracting officer.  Board Rules, Preface to Rules,
    I (Jurisdiction for Considering Appeals); GPO Contract
   Terms, Contract Clauses,  5(b) (Disputes).  See EPCO
   Associates, GPO BCA 26-93 (November 18, 1993), slip op. at 3,
   1993 WL 526919; Shepard Printing, GPO BCA 37-92 (January 28,
   1994), slip op. at 28, 1994 WL 275077.  Accord Associated
   Contract Specialties Corp., ASBCA No. 37437, 90-3 BCA 
   23,258; Spruill Realty/Construction Co., ASBCA No. 40477, 90-3
   BCA  23,255; Santa Fe Engineers, Inc., ASBCA Nos. 28058,
   29362, 86-3 BCA  19,092, aff'd 818 F.2d 856, 858 (Fed. Cir.
   1987); R & E Electronics, Inc., VABCA Nos. 2227, 2299, 2300,
   85-3 BCA  18,316.  Both the "Disputes" clause in GPO Contract
   Terms and the Board Rules allow a contractor 90 days from the
   date of receipt of a contracting officer's final decision to
   file an appeal. GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses,  5(b)
   (Disputes); Board Rules, Rule 1(a).  Accord Policy Research,
   Inc., ASBCA No. 26144, 82-1 BCA  15,618; Cosmic Construction
   Co. v. United States, supra.  Consistent with the regulations
   of other contract appeals boards, the Board Rules does not
   require a Notice of Appeal to actually reach the Board by the
   90th day.  A valid filing will occur by the 90th day if the
   appeal is dispatched through the U.S. Postal Service, in which
   case the postmark governs, see Micrographic Technology, Inc.,
   ASBCA No. 25577, 81-2 BCA  15,357,16 or is "otherwise
   furnished to the Board," a phrase which encompasses not only
   actual delivery of the notice to the Board itself, but also
   protects contractors from the consequences of misdirected
   appeals,17 see Birken Manufacturing Co., ASBCA No. 37064, 89-1
   BCA  21,248 (providing notice of appeal to the contracting
   officer); Brunner Bau GmbH, ASBCA No. 35678, 89-1 BCA  21,315
   (mailing notice of appeal to government counsel); Contraves-
   Goerz Corp., ASBCA No. 26317, 83-1 BCA  16,309 (mailing
   notice of intent to appeal to Secretary of the Air Force
   through the contracting officer).  See also McDonald & Eudy
   Printers, Inc., GPO BCA 06-91 (May 6, 1994), 1994 WL 377581
   (notice of appeal lost by GPO's mail room).18  However, for a
   notice of appeal directed to the contracting officer to be
   considered a filing, it must reflect a dissatisfaction with
   the final decision and indicate an intent to appeal to a board
   of contract appeals or U.S. Claims Court.  See Johnson
   Controls, Inc., ASBCA No. 28340, 83-2 BCA  16,915; Birken
   Manufacturing Co., supra; Yankee Telecommunication Laboratory,
   Inc., ASBCA No. 25240, 82-1 BCA  15,515; Dawson Construction
   Co., EBCA No. 155-2-81, 81-2 BCA  15,162; Pantronics, Inc.,
   ASBCA No. 20982, 78-2 BCA  13,285.  By that standard, the
   Appellant's letter to the Contracting Officer on July 6, 1994,
   could be considered a valid filing because it clearly reflects
   dissatisfaction with Weiss' final decision an indicates an
   intention to appeal to the Board (R4 File, Tab S).
   Furthermore, since the time for submitting an appeal in this
   case did not expire until July 8, 1994, such a filing would be
   timely because the Contractor's letter was postmarked on July
   7, 1994, the 89th day of the appeal period, even though it was
   not received by Weiss until the 91st day, July 9, 1994, at the
   earliest.  See Supplement, Weiss Declaration,  3.

   B. Reconsideration of the Final Decision

   It is well-established that a contracting officer's
   reconsideration of an earlier final decision vacates the
   finality of that decision.19  See Rainbow Construction Co.,
   Inc., supra; Sach Sinha and Associates, Inc., ASBCA No. 46916,
   95-1 BCA  27,499; Royal International Builders Co., ASBCA No.
   42637, 92-1 BCA  24,684; Johnson Controls, Inc., supra.
   Essentially, where a contracting officer, either by words or
   actions, agrees to reconsider his or her final decision, the
   matter is kept open and the finality of the initial decision
   is necessarily destroyed.  See Roscoe-Ajax Construction Co. v.
   United States, 198 Ct. Cl. 133, 148, 458 F.2d 55, 63 (1972).
   In such a case, a new final decision is required to begin the
   running of the appeal period.  See Information Systems &
   Networks Corp. v. United States, 17 Cl. Ct. 527 (1989); Birken
   Manufacturing Co., ASBCA No. 36587, 89-2 BCA  21,581.

   The principle, as succinctly expressed by the ASBCA in Rainbow
   Construction, a case cited to the Board by the Respondent, is:

         If a contracting officer's decision is not truly
         "final," but being reconsidered, a "failure to appeal
         from the decision within the prescribed period will not
         defeat . . . [a] contractor's opportunity to be heard on
         the merits."  Johnson Controls, Inc., ASBCA No. 28340,
         83-2 BCA  16,915 at 84,170.  The issue to be resolved
         with respect to vitiation of "finality" is whether the
         contractor has presented evidence showing it reasonable
         or objectively could have concluded that the contracting
         officer's decision was being reconsidered.  Sach Sinha
         and Associates, Inc., ASBCA No. 46916, 95-1 BCA  27,499
         (13 February 1995) and cases cited.


See 95-1 BCA at 137,447.

   This rule has been consistently and repeatedly applied by the
   ASBCA, see, e.g., Sach Sinha and Associates, Inc., supra
   (finality of default decision vitiated by the contracting
   officer's discussion of the termination with the contractor,
   and his request that the contractor submit, in writing,
   settlement alternatives); Royal International Builders Co.,
   supra (finality vitiated where the contracting officer's
   actions created sufficient uncertainty that the contractor
   could reasonably believe decision was not final); Johnson
   Controls, Inc., supra ((finality vitiated where the
   contracting officer granted the contractor an audience to
   discuss decision and did not "make it very clear" that
   original appeal period was running), as well as other
   tribunals, see, e.g., Summit Contractors v. United States, 15
   Ct. Cl. 806 (1988) (the contracting officer's post-decision
   review of same record vitiated the finality of the final
   decision); Edward R. Ester and Lorraine Ester, PSBCA No. 3051,
   92-2 BCA  24,822 (reasonable interpretation of the
   contracting officer's letter was that he was willing to
   reconsider the final decision, and the contractor was led to
   believe that the decision would be reconsidered); Riverside
   General Construction Co., IBCA No. 1603-7-82, 82-2 BCA 
   16,127 (finality was vitiated because the contracting officer
   held out the prospect that the final decision would be subject
   to further discussion and possibly reconsideration).

   It is also established that the use of the word "reconsider"
   is not a sine qua non, but rather the issue is whether the
   contractor "reasonably concluded" that the contracting officer
   was "reconsidering his final decision."  See Sach Sinha and
   Associates, Inc., supra, 95-1 BCA at 137,042 (citing Precision
   Tool & Engineering Corp., ASBCA No. 16652, 73-1 BCA  9878).
   Furthermore, the test is not limited to the subjective state
   of the contractor's mind, but rather is an objective one
   considering all the facts.  See Jen-Beck Associates, VABCA No.
   1988, 85-2 BCA  18,086.

   From the evidence in this case the Board concludes that the
   Appellant reasonably or objectively could have concluded that
   the Contracting Officer was reconsidering his April 5, 1995,
   final decision.  See Rainbow Construction Co., Inc., supra,
   95-1 BCA at 137,447; Sach Sinha and Associates, Inc., supra,
   95-1 BCA at 137,042.  In that regard, the Board reads the
   Contractor's June 13, 1994, letter to the Contracting Officer
   asking him, inter alia, to explain, in detail, his reasons for
   denying payment of the voucher for Print Order 86087, as
   effectively seeking reconsideration of the final decision from
   Weiss.  See R4 File, Tab P, p. 2.  In his response on June 17,
   1994, the Contracting Officer specifically told the Appellant
   that: "I have reviewed my Final Decision Letter on Print Order
   86087, dated April 5, 1994, and can find nothing that would
   support the [Contractor's position]."  See R4 File, Tab Q, p.
   1.  It seems to the Board that this reply was, in effect, a
   denial of the Appellant's June 13, 1994, request for
   reconsideration, in which case the new appeal period would
   have expired on September 15, 1994.  Looked at that way, the
   Contractor's letter to Weiss of July 27, 1994, "requesting an
   appeal" of the dispute to the Board, was obviously timely
   filed.  See R4 File, Tab U.

   Despite the Contracting Officer's negative response, the
   Appellant continued its pursuit of payment for the second
   printing on Purchase Order 86987.  First, on June 23, 1994,
   the Contractor asked Weiss to return the documentation
   accompanying the original voucher so that, inter alia, it
   could highlight the proof of claim, and resubmit its bill
   along with the DOJ's written instructions.  See R4 File, Tab
   R.  See also, GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses,  24
   (Payment on Purchase Order).  Next, on July 6, 1994, the
   Appellant specifically requested reconsideration of the
   Contracting Officer's final decision, or in the alternative, a
   more detailed explanation so that it could appeal the matter
   to the Board.  See R4 File, Tab S, p. 2.  Weiss' answer on
   July 13, 1994, which denied the request for reconsideration
   and reaffirmed his final decision, also clearly indicates that
   he thought he was doing so for a second time.  See R4 File,
   Tab T ("I have again at your request, reviewed my final
   decision, . . . ".  [Emphasis added.]).
   In the Board's opinion, when viewed in its entirety, one
   salient point stands out in the parties' exchange of
   correspondence between June 13, 1994, and July 13, 1994-at no
   time did the Contracting Officer ever make it clear to the
   Appellant that the original appeal period remained in effect.
   Weiss' failure to advise the Contractor in the course of their
   correspondence subsequent to April 5, 1994, that the "clock
   was still running" on the 90-day appeal period, is fatal to
   its position that there was no reconsideration of the final
   decision between June 13, 1994, and July 6, 1994.  See Royal
   International Builders Co., supra; Riverside General
   Construction Co., Inc., supra; Johnson Controls, Inc., supra.
   In that regard, it is well-established that a contracting
   officer's failure to tell a contractor, either orally or in
   writing, that post-final decision discussions or letters
   concerning a dispute do not affect the original appeal period,
   will be taken as signaling a willingness to reconsider his
   decision, see Royal International Builders Co., supra, 92-1
   BCA at 123,135; Riverside General Construction Co., Inc.,
   supra, 82-2 BCA at 80,049-50, and creating the impression that
   the initial decision is not truly final or that it is being
   reconsidered, see Johnson Controls, Inc., supra, 83-2 BCA at
   84,170.  A contracting officer who carries on discussions with
   a contractor about the merits of a disputed claim after the
   final decision has been issued, is obligated to "make it very
   clear" to the contractor that the appeal period set forth in
   that final decision continues to run, otherwise the
   contracting officer's silence will be deemed a contributing
   cause of the contractor's delay in initiating a timely appeal.
   See Riverside General Construction Co., Inc., supra, 82-2 BCA
   at 80,050; Johnson Controls, Inc., supra, 83-2 BCA at 84,170.

   Applying these principles here, the Board is forced to
   conclude that the Contracting Officer's actions destroyed the
   finality of his April 5, 1994, decision, and as a result, the
   original appeal period was no longer in effect.  See Royal
   International Builders Co., supra, 92-1 BCA at 123,135
   Furthermore, even if Weiss' correspondence of June 17, 1994,
   is discounted, at the very least his letter of July 13, 1994,
   was the operative final determination in this case, which was
   appealed two weeks later at the start of the new appeal
   period.  See Roscoe-Ajax Construction Co. v. United States,
   supra, 198 Ct. Cl. at 148, 458 F.2d at 63; Johnson Controls,
   Inc., supra, 83-2 BCA at 84,170.  Admittedly, the Contracting
   Officer's July 13, 1994, letter lacks the requisite language
   concerning finality and appeal rights.  See Printing
   Procurement Regulation, GPO Publication 305.3 (Rev. 10-90),
   Chap. X, Sec. 1,  4.d (Contracting Officer Final Decision).
   However, that language is for the benefit of the appellant,
   and its absence does not preclude the Board from treating the
   letter as a final decision and permitting an appeal therefrom.
   See Johnson Controls, Inc., supra, 83-2 BCA at 84,170 (citing
   R.G. Robbins Co., Inc., ASBCA No. 26521, 82-1 BCA  15,643).

   ACCORDINGLY, the Board finds that the Appellant's appeal is
   timely filed.  THEREFORE, the Respondent's Motion is DENIED.

It is so Ordered.

September 29, 1995               STUART M. FOSS
                        Administrative Judge
_______________

     1 Board Rules, Rule 5 states, in pertinent part: "The Board
     shall have the right at any time and on its own initiative
     to raise the issue of its jurisdiction to proceed with a
     particular case, . . .".
     2 Board Rules, Rule 1(a) states, in pertinent part: "Notice
     of an appeal shall be in writing and mailed or otherwise
     furnished to the Board within 90 days from the date of
     receipt of a contracting officer's final decision."
     3 The Board also concluded that no evidentiary hearing was
     necessary to resolve the threshold question, and the parties
     waived such a hearing in this case.  RPTC, p. 3, fn. 4.  See
     Board Rules, Rule 5, which states, in pertinent part:
     "Hearing on the motion shall be afforded on application of
     either party."
     4 Under that schedule, the Respondent's motion was due at
     the Board on July 28, 1995, the Appellant's response was to
     be filed by August 18, 1995, and the Government's reply by
     August 25, 1995.  RPTC, p. 3.  Although the scheduled
     allowed it, the GPO did not submit a reply to the
     Appellant's response.
     5 The Contracting Officer's appeal file was delivered to the
     Board on September 13, 1994.  See Board Rules, Rule 4(a).
     It will be referred to hereafter as the R4 File, with an
     appropriate Tab letter also indicated.  The R4 File has 22
     documents identified as Tabs A through V.
     6 According to the record, at the time of the IFB the first
     contractor for Category I work under Program D404-M was
     Wilson-Epes.  Balmar Printing was the first contractor for
     Category II work  See R4 File, Tab C.
     7 The Contractor bid $363,242.70 for Category I work, and
     $20,189.40 for Category II, which was the lowest offer in
     both categories.  See R4 File, Tab C.
     8 The contract was awarded to the Appellant at the following
     contract prices: (a) $290,594.16 (for Category I work); and
     (b) $16,151.52 (for Category II work).  See R4 File, Tab D.
     9 The Board takes judicial notice of the fact that the days
     of the week in question were Friday (January 14, 1994),
     Tuesday (January 18, 1994), and Wednesday (January 19,
     1994).  Furthermore, Monday, January 17, 1994, was the
     "Martin Luther King's Day" holiday.  FED. R. EVID. 201(b)
     (2).  See Asa L. Shipman's Sons, Ltd., GPO BCA 06-95 (August
     29, 1995), slip op. 21, fn. 24.
     10 A third job-Print Order 86148-was also discussed, but it
     is clear from the Appellant's letter that no formal claim
     had yet been submitted to the Contracting Officer on that
     matter.  See R4 File, Tab P.  Instead, the Contractor was
     seeking a contract modification authorizing payment for
     typesetting performed prior to cancellation of the Print
     Order by the customer-agency.  The Appellant stated that it
     would submit a formal termination for convenience claim only
     if the Contracting Officer denied the modification.
     11 The Appellant's letter also requested an appeal of Print
     Order 86144, but that matter is not involved in this
     proceeding.
     12 The respective positions of the parties is set forth here
     as understood from the discussions during the prehearing
     telephone conference on July 6, 1995, and the documents
     addressing the jurisdictional issue which were subsequently
     filed with the Board; i.e., the Motion, the Supplement, and
     the Opposition.
     13 The Respondent has "no doubt" that the appeal was
     received by the Board after the 90-day limit.  Motion, p. 5.
     By GPO's  calculation, the Appellant took 115 days from the
     date of the Contracting Officer's final decision to file its
     appeal with the Board.  Id.
     14 DiLine Litho, Inc., was decided by an ad hoc contract
     appeals panel which considered appeals from final decisions
     of GPO Contracting Officers prior to the establishment of
     the Board in 1984.  GPO Instruction 110.10C, Subject:
     Establishment of the Board of Contract Appeals, dated
     September 17, 1984.  Decisions of these ad hoc panels are
     cited by the Board in its decisions as "GPOCAB."  While the
     Board is not bound by the decisions of the ad hoc panels,
     its policy is to follow their rulings where applicable and
     appropriate.  See Asa L. Shipman's Sons, Ltd., supra, slip
     op. 33, fn. 34; Univex International, GPO BCA 23-90 (July
     31, 1995), slip op. at 23, fn. 24; Universal Printing Co.,
     GPO BCA 9-90 (June 22, 1994), slip op. at 11, fn. 9, 1994 WL
     377586; Stephenson, Inc., GPO BCA 2-88 (December 20, 1991),
     slip op. at 18, fn. 20, 1991 WL 439274; Chavis and Chavis
     Printing, GPO BCA 20-90 (February 6, 1991), slip op. at 9,
     fn. 9, 1991 WL 439270.
     15 In Rainbow Construction, the Armed Services Board of
     Contract Appeals (ASBCA) held that a contractor's facsimile
     request for reconsideration of the contracting officer's
     final decision on 90th day of the appeal period, did not
     vitiate the finality of that decision and therefore did not
     toll the period for filing a notice of appeal.  In so
     ruling, the ASBCA said that the contractor was required to
     show that "it reasonably or objectively could have concluded
     that the contracting officer's [final] decision was being
     considered."  See 95-1 BCA at 137,447 (citing Sach Sinha and
     Associates, Inc., ASBCA No. 46916, 95-1 BCA  27,499).
     16 As a rule, delivery of the appeal to private carrier,
     such as Federal Express, is not a considered a "mailing."
     See Rainbow Construction Co., Inc., supra; North Coast
     Remanufacturing, Inc., ASBCA No. 38599, 89-3 BCA  22,232.
     In Rainbow Construction, one of the cases relied upon by the
     Respondent to support its position, the notice of appeal,
     which the contractor sent to the Armed Services Board of
     Contract Appeals (ASBCA) by private courier on the 89th day
     of the appeal period, was delivered to the ASBCA on the 91st
     day, and hence was untimely.  See 95-1 BCA at 137,447
     (citing Cosmic Construction Co. v. United States, 697 F.2d
     1389, 1390 (Fed. Cir. 1982)).  Ironically, if the contractor
     instead had mailed the notice of appeal on the 89th day, it
     would have been considered timely filed even if it arrived
     at the ASBCA on the 91st day or after.
     17 Generally, agency boards have embraced a liberal policy
     regarding misdirected appeal notices.  See generally
     CIBINIC, JOHN, JR. & NASH, RALPH C., JR., ADMINISTRATION OF
     GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS, 1310 (3rd ed. 1995).  But see Doris
     Bookout, AGBCA No. 89-147-1, 89-1 BCA  21,570 (providing
     appeal notice to the contracting officer is not a filing).
     18 As observed by the author of a recent commentary on the
     Board's procedural rules: ". . . the [Board] believes there
     is a measure of flexibility in its ninety-day rule, and it
     will exercise its discretion to allow an otherwise late
     appeal if good cause is shown for the delay."  Matthew S.
     Foss, U.S. Government Printing Office Board of Contract
     Appeals: The First Decade, 24 PUB. CONT. L.J. 579, 591
     (A.B.A. 1995).
     19 A contracting officer's authority to reconsider a final
     decision is not seriously questioned.  See Riverside General
     Construction Co., Inc., IBCA No. 1603-7-82, 82-2 BCA 
     16,127, at 80,049 (enactment of the Contract Disputes Act of
     1978 (CDA), 41 U.S.C.  601 et seq., did not change the
     authority which contracting officer's had under the
     "Disputes" clause to reconsider a final decision, assuming,
     in both cases, the timeliness of the appeal.  Citing
     Imperator Carpet & Interiors, Inc., GSBCA No. 6167, 81-2 BCA
      15,266; Prime Roofing, Inc., ASBCA No. 25836, 82-1 BCA 
     15,667 at 77477; G.A. Western Construction Co., IBCA
     1550-2-82, 82-2 BCA  15,895).  Indeed, the ASBCA has stated
     that: "In our judgment the contracting officer not only is
     permitted to correct an erroneous `final decision' but has
     an obligation to do so."  See Space Age Engineering, Inc.,
     ASBCA No. 26028, 82-1 BCA  15,766, at 78,033.