BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE WASHINGTON, DC 20401 In the Matter of ) ) the Appeal of ) ) PROFESSIONAL PRINTING OF ) KANSAS, INC. ) Docket No. GPO BCA 28-93 Jacket No. 774-586 ) Purchase Order M-2450 ) For the Appellant: Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., Emporia, Kansas, by Frederic G. Antoun, Jr., Esq., Attorney at Law, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. For the Government: Kerry L. Miller, Esq., Associate General Counsel, U.S. Government Printing Office. Before FOSS, Administrative Judge. DECISION AND ORDER I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE By Notice of Appeal, dated October 15, 1993,1 Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc. (Appellant or Contractor), 315 Constitution, Emporia, Kansas 66801, filed a timely appeal of the final decision of Contracting Officer Raymond Macdonald, dated July 21, 1993, of the U.S. Government Printing Office's (Respondent or GPO or Government), Denver Regional Printing & Procurement Office (DRPPO), Denver Federal Center, Building 53, Room D-1010, Denver, Colorado 80225-0347, denying the Appellant's equitable adjustment claim of $5,661.59 for additional work performed under its contract identified as Jacket No. 774-586, Purchase Order M-2450, and assessing a 5% price reduction in the contract price (R4 File, Tabs A, B, and F).2 See Board Rules, Rules 1(a) and 2. For the following reasons, the Contracting Officer's final decision is hereby AFFIRMED, in part, and REVERSED, in part, and the appeal is ALLOWED to the extent indicated. II. BACKGROUND 1. On November 12, 1992, the Respondent awarded the Appellant a contract for the production of 2,000,000 blank forms (plus or minus 1%) entitled "1099 Paper w/2 Micro-perfs," which had been requisitioned by the Defense Printing Service (DPS) for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS or customer-agency) (R4 File, Tab B).3 The estimated purchase price of the contract was $17,821.00, and the forms were to be delivered to the DFAS facility at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colorado, by December 1, 1992.4 Id. 2. Among other provisions, the contract specifications stated: GPO Contract Terms (GPO Pub. 310.2), in effect on date of this order, applies.5 DESCRIPTION: Blank forms. PERFORATIONS: Perforate across the full 8-1/2" dimension with two micro-perforations located 3-11/16" from top and bottom edge. NOTE: Stock used must be suitable for use on a Xerox 4050 or 4090 printer, and will process on a Bell and Howell Mail Starr 500 or Pitney Bowes table top folder. PAPER-COLOR AND KIND: White, High Quality Xerographic [C]opier, Laser Printer. JCP Code No.: O-61. Basis-500 sheets: 17" X 22" (size) and 20-24 pounds (weight).6 PACKING: Pack suitable per shipping container. Pallets required. Include on all labels: Stock No. 1099 Paper.7 * * * * * * * * * * Id. [Emphasis added.] Furthermore, the following provisions of GPO Contract Terms, which the contract incorporates by reference, are relevant to this dispute: Supplemental Specifications 2. Packing. The method of packing indicated in the specifications must be accomplished in accordance with the following interpretations. The method and manner of packaging for preservation and required storage and/or transportation shall be in accordance with either the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) or the Uniform Freight Classification (UFC) tariff. The material used in packing must be of such quality as to insure arrival of the printed matter at its destination in a satisfactory and usable condition. Each packing unit must be uniform in size and quantity contained therein. Unless otherwise indicated, each shipping container must not exceed 45 pounds when fully packed. Quantities which fill less than one-half a shipping container may be wrapped in shipping bundles. * * * * * * * * * * (c) Shrink-film wrapping. Wrap in packages not to exceed 10 inches in height or in quantities as ordered. Place a piece of lightweight chipboard or newsboard, cut to the same size as the printed work, on the bottom of the printed work, and wrap with heat-shrink film of suitable thickness and quality. The label may be placed inside the wrap, on the top or on the end. (d) Boxing. Solid pack in suitable paperboard boxes, which have closely fitted sides and ends. Tops and bottoms must be securely fastened. * * * * * * * * * * (j) Shipping containers. Only new corrugated or solid fiberboard containers may be used. Containers must be made in accordance with Federal Specification PPP-B-636 and any amendments thereto. Unless otherwise provided in the specifications, bursting strength shall be 275 pounds per square inch minimum. Containers must be packed solidly (top and sides) with the material laid flat on the bottom of the containers (never stand on end); top and bottom pads of corrugated fiberboard shall be used and be in solid contact with the top and bottom of the container. In the event the material does not fit snugly on the top or sides, open- cell pads or thicknesses of corrugated board must be added. Top and bottom flaps must be closed and fastened firmly with water- resistant adhesive. Adhesive must be applied over not less than 50 percent of the area of contact between the inner and outer flaps. The bottom flaps may be stapled instead of sealed, provided this is done before the container is packed. At the contractor's option, containers may be sealed with tape which must completely cover the butted edges of the flaps and extend at least 2 inches on the ends of the containers. . . . Noncompliance with the packaging specifications may be cause for the Government to reject the shipment, at destination, and return it to the contractor at his expense. After giving notice of the deficiency and affording the contractor an opportunity and a reasonable time to correct, the Government may, at its option repackage in accordance with the specifications and charge all costs to the contractor. * * * * * * * * * * Contract Clauses * * * * * * * * * * 4. Changes. (a) The Contracting Officer may at any time, by written order, and without notice to the sureties, if any, make changes within the general scope of this contract, in any one or more of the following: * * * * * * * * * * (2) Method of shipment or packing. * * * * * * * * * * (b) If any such change causes an increase or decrease in the cost of, or the time required for, performance of any part of the work, whether or not changed by the order, the Contracting Officer shall make an equitable adjustment in the contract price, the delivery price, or both, and shall modify the contract. * * * * * * * * * * 14. Inspection and Tests. * * * * * * * * * * (f) The Government has the right either to reject or to require correction of nonconforming supplies. Supplies are nonconforming when they are defective in material or workmanship or are otherwise not in conformity with requirements. The Government may reject nonconforming supplies with or without disposition instructions. * * * * * * * * * * (j) The Government shall accept or reject supplies as promptly as practicable after delivery, unless otherwise provided. Government failure to inspect and accept or reject the supplies shall not relieve the contractor from responsibility, nor impose liability on the Government, for nonconforming supplies. (k) Inspections and tests by the Government do not relieve the contractor or responsibility for defects or other failures to meet requirements discovered before acceptance. Acceptance shall be conclusive, except for latent defects, fraud, gross mistakes amounting to fraud, or as otherwise provided. 15. Warranty. Definitions. "Acceptance," as used in this article means the act of an authorized representative of the Government by which the Government assumes for itself, or as an agency of another, owner- ship of existing supplies, or approves specific services as partial or complete performance. "Correction," as used in this article, means the elimination of a defect. "Supplies," as used in this article means the end item furnished by the contractor and related services. The word does not include "data." (a) Contractor's obligations. (1) Notwithstanding inspection and acceptance by the Government of supplies furnished or any condition concerning the conclusiveness thereof, the contractor warrants that for 120 days from the date of the check tendered as final payment- (i) All supplies furnished will be free from defects in material or workmanship and will conform to all requirements; and (ii) The preservation, packaging, packing, and marking, and the preparation for, and shipment of such supplies will conform with requirements. * * * * * * * * * * (b) Remedies available to the Government. (1) The Contracting Officer or his/her authorized representative shall give written notice to the contractor of any breach of warranties in paragraph (a)(1) above within 120 days, unless otherwise specified, from the date of the check tendered as final payment. (2) With a reasonable time after the notice, the Contracting Officer may either- (i) Require, by written notice, the prompt correction or replacement of any supplies or parts thereof (including preservation, packaging, and marking) that do not conform within the meaning of paragraph (a)(1) above; or (ii) Retain such supplies and reduce the contract price by an amount equitable under the circumstances. * * * * * * * * * * See GPO Contract Terms, Supplemental Specifications, ¶¶ 2; Contract Clauses, ¶¶ 4, 14, 15. [Emphasis added.] Although the Respondent made GPO Contract Terms part of the contract, it did not incorporate its "Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program" (QATAP) in the agreement;8 i.e., the box next to the statement "Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program (GPO Pub. 310.1) in effect on date of this order, applies. Level ___," was not checked. 2. As indicated above, although the specifications called for white copier paper equal to JCP Code No. O-61, it also allowed the Appellant to choose between 20 and 24 pound basis weight stock (R4 File, Tab B). The Contractor selected 20 pound paper to produce the forms (R4 File, Tab D). Once the job was finished, the Appellant Contractor placed the completed order in cartons and shipped the boxes to DFAS. It is undisputed that the forms were timely delivered to the customer-agency on December 1, 1992, as required by the specifications (R4 File, Tab B). 3. On March 29, 1993, nearly four months after delivery, the DPS notified the DRPPO that the paper furnished by the Appellant was jamming on the Bell & Howell inserter, and asked GPO to test the stock to ensure that it was at least 20 pound paper (R4 File, Tab C, Louie Memorandum).9 See Boortz Declaration, ¶ 4; Williams Letter. 4. On April 6, 1993, Compliance Officer Boortz telephoned the Contractor and informed it that the DFAS was reporting paper jams on its Bell & Howell equipment (App. Exh. No. 5). The Appellant immediately discussed the matter with its attorney, Frederic G. Antoun, Jr.,10 who thought that a mechanical adjustment would fix the problem. However, when the Contractor called Boortz back, it was told that the customer-agency had determined that the paper was the cause of the jamming. Id. 5. Before taking any further steps, the Compliance Officer sent samples of the paper to the Respondent's QCTD for testing (R4 File, Tab D). See Boortz Declaration, ¶ 5. On April 16, 1993, the QCTD issued its report which showed that the paper stock: (a) had a basis weight of 20.1 pounds and met the specifications in that regard;but (b) fail to meet the standards for porosity and stiffness (R4 File, Tab D, Miscellaneous Materials Test Report No. 266643, Quality Control and Technical Department, dated April 16, 1993) (QCTD Report)).11 GPO's inspector also stated: JCP Specification not applicable. *JCP O-61 is written for 24 lb. paper only. Sample is 20 lb. Test results are compatible with what 20 lb. O-61 might be, except for smoothness (too rough). Paper which is too porous and too limp could result in runnability problems, as explained by Bell & Howell. Id. [Emphasis added]. See also Boortz Declaration, ¶ 5; Subt Declaration, ¶ 3; App. Exh. No. 1. Boortz advised the Contractor of the test results. See Boortz Declaration, ¶ 5. 6. On or about April 19, 1993, representatives of the parties attended a test of the paper stock at Lowry Air Force Base, in which forms continued to feed improperly into the Bell & Howell inserter and jam the machine. See Boortz Declaration, ¶ 6; Macdonald Declaration, ¶ 4; Williams Letter; App. Exh. No. 1. Antoun, who participated in the test on behalf of the Appellant, noted that the paper was curling, which he thought was caused either by moisture or from the stock being stored for an extensive period without shrink-wrapping. See App. Exh. Nos. 1 and 3. See also Williams Letter. Therefore, he suggested that one pallet of blank forms (100,000-150,000 copies) be returned to the Contractor for shrink-wrapping to see if that would solve the problem. See Boortz Declaration, ¶¶ 6, 7; Macdonald Declaration, ¶ 4; Williams Letter; App. Exh. No. 1. 7. As arranged, the Appellant repacked a "test" quantity of blank forms (148,000 sheets) with shrink-wrap and shipped them back to the DFAS on April 28, 1993 (R4 File, Tab E). See also App. Exh. No. 2. The shrink-wrapped paper did not jam in the Bell & Howell inserter. Therefore, the remaining blank forms (1,440,000 sheets) were returned to the Contractor for shrink- wrapping, which was completed on June 30, 1993 (R4 File, Tab E). See also App. Exh. No. 2. The parties agree that after the stock was shrink-wrapped, there were no further running problems. See Boortz Declaration, ¶ 7; Macdonald Declaration, ¶ 4; Williams Letter. 8. While it was still in the process of shrink-wrapping the last batch of forms, the Appellant raised the matter of payment for the repacking operation with the Contracting Officer, and was told that no extra compensation was warranted since, as far as GPO was concerned the Contractor was simply correcting its own performance failure. See Boortz Declaration, ¶ 8; Macdonald Declaration, ¶ 5. In addition, the Appellant was advised that the Respondent intended to reduce the contract price by 5% because its paper stock did not meet specifications.12 The Appellant's contrary position was conveyed to Boortz in a letter dated June 16, 1993, from Antoun, who said: As I indicated in our telephone conversation, Professional Printing does not agree that the product produced under the above Jacket should have been shrink-wrapped with chipboard. The specifications only indicate that the stock is to be packed "suitable" in a shipping container. No individual boxes are required, no wrapping was required, and no particular number of units per carton were required. Since the product being produced is paper to be used on laser printers, and since laser paper (or any paper) tends to pick up moisture, the agency should have known that if it was going to store the material for a long period of time, it would need to be wrapped. Professional, on the other hand, had no way of knowing that the material was to be stored over a period of a year or more, and used only a rate of 50,000 or so per month, as opposed to being used all on one job. You will recall that as I observed the test run, I determined that the problem with the job was either that it had picked up moisture and thus, curled, or that, due to the length of time it was stored it began to lift up in the center or curl due to the fact that it wasn't shrink-wrapped for long term or permanent storage. To solve that problem we picked up several boxes, and took them back to Professional Printing, and shrink-wrapped them with chipboard, to keep the product flat and moisture free during long term storage. That product was shipped back, and the agency used it without difficulty. Your office has now requested that the contractor pick up the entire order, shrink-wrap it with chipboard, repackage it, and reship it to the agency. While I agree that this is the exact solution required to give the agency a product which will work well, and have instructed Professional Printing to follow your directions regarding the repackaging, we have not agreed to accomplish this task at no additional charge to the government. Our position was, and still remains that the specifications did not require the appropriate packaging, and thus the contractor can not be held liable for the cost of appropriate packaging after the job is produced. Professional will follow your instructions, and after shrink- wrapping with chipboard, repackaging and shipping is completed, will submit a request for additional payment (contract modification) to your office. With regard to the proposed price reduction of 5% for the failure to meet specifications, Professional's position which I have already related to you by telephone, is that no price reduction is in order. First, I understand that test results indicate that there is a minor variation in smoothness on the tested stock. I do not believe that variation is uniform throughout the 2 million pieces, but even if it is, a smoothness variation of this minor and [sic] nature should not warrant any price reduction. Secondly, you have indicated that the stock does not meet the suggested stiffness proposed by the manufacturer (Bell and Howell) for use in it's [sic] equipment. Meeting those requirements was not mandated by the specifications. Rather, the specifications required the stock to meeting a specific JCP code- and to "be suitable" for use on specific equipment. Properly packaged, the stock will function now and in the future on the listed equipment. As a result, we do not believe any price reduction is in order. See App. Exh. No. 3. 9. Thereafter, on July 12, 1993, the Appellant submitted a $5,661.59 bill to cover the cost of repacking the blank forms (R4 File, Tab E).13 See also Boortz Declaration, ¶ 8; App. Exh. No. 2. Accompanying the claim was a letter from Antoun, who wrote, in pertinent part: I am sure you will recall from prior conversations and correspondence that Professional agreed, in order to create a usable product for the agency, that they would repack the job by chip boarding and shrink-wrapping, and reship it to Lowry Air Force Base. Your office's determination was that the pickup, shrink-wrapping, repackaging, and redelivery of the forms needed to be accomplished at no additional cost to the government; on the other hand, Professional Printing did not believe they should bear the cost of performing these functions, as they were not required by the specifications, and did not agree to do so at no additional cost to the government. * * * * * * * * * * With regard to the argument that the forms do not meet Bell & Howell's desired stiffness standards, the specifications did not require the forms to meet any particular suggestions of the manufacturer for stock. Rather, the specifications simply indicated that the stock must be suitable for use on the named Xerox printers and the Bell & Howell Mail Star [sic] 500 or Pitney Bows [sic] Tabletop Folder. We have tested the forms on both folding machines, and they work fine, when properly protected from moisture and climate variations by shrink- wrapping. The agency has performed the same tests, with the sample batch that was wrapped appropriately (not according to specs), and they likewise reported have no problems with the stock. . . . . As a result of doing the repacking, some new information has come to light. When the agency provided Professional's trucker with the boxes to be repacked, they inadvertently included 20 boxes from a previous job. That job was Jacket 675-993. It was the same job which the agency advised us during our test run at Lowry that they had used without difficulty, in order to establish that it was Professional's product, not the machinery, which was causing the problem. When Professional received these 20 boxes back, they opened several in order to determine if they too were sent back because they required shrink-wrapping. While doing so, they discovered that they had in fact produced Jacket 675-993. The major difference between the two Jackets is that 675-993 required the product to be shrink-wrapped in units of 500.14 This of course prevented it from curling due to moisture absorption or climate changes. As agreed by the Bell & Howell technician during our on-site review of the product, it was the curling that caused the problem with the feeding of the forms through the equipment. In light of the above, and all of the facts surrounding this matter, Professional is requesting a Contract Modification to compensate them for the pickup, shrink-wrapping, repackaging, and reshipment of the 148,000 sheets (the test) and 1,440,000 sheets completed and shipped on June 30, 1993 (the reason for the difference between the amount Professional repackaged and the contract amount appears to be the quantity that the agency had already utilized). . . . Id. 10. By letter dated July 21, 1993, the Contracting Officer issued his final decision rejecting the Appellant's equitable adjustment claim, stating, in pertinent part: . . . [T]he Government has a right to complete compliance to the specifications. As you have acknowledged, Professional Printing has not done this since the paper does not meet the specifications. You also have acknowledged, the paper is outside the recommended guidelines that Bell and Howell has for stiffness which could very well cause a problem running the paper. We have allowed Professional Printing to repack the paper to mitigate their damages and this also allowed the Government to use the paper. Allowing Professional Printing to do this was at your request during the on-site inspection. * * * * * * * * * * I could have rejected the entire shipment and told you to replace it with paper that is in compliance to the specifications. Instead you were allowed to repack the stock to minimize your costs. See R4 File, Tab F. In addition to denying the claim, Macdonald informed the Contractor that the Respondent was taking a discount of 5% on the contract price-"the smallest discount under the guidelines of GPO Contract Terms, GPO Pub. 310.1"-for accepting paper stock "which is not in complete compliance with the specifications."15 Id. See also Boortz Declaration, ¶ 8. 11. Thereafter, on August 15, 1993, the Contracting Officer issued Contract Modification No. 1, reducing the contract price by 5% "[a]s compensation for accepting the defective product," because "[a]n inspection of [paper] samples supplied from this order revealed that the product failed to meet the specifications . . ." (R4 File, Tab F). 12. The Appellant timely appealed the Contracting Officer's final decision to the Board. III. ISSUES PRESENTED Two issues are involved in this appeal: 1. Did the language in the "PACKING" specification, which told the Appellant to "[p]ack suitable per shipping container," also require the Contractor to shrink-wrap the original shipment of blank forms? Stated otherwise, could the Appellant reasonably assume from the fact that the "SHRINK FILM PACK" box on the Purchase Order was not checked that shrink-wrapping was not required, thus entitling the Contractor to an equitable adjustment for performing that additional work? 2. Was it proper for the Contracting Officer to take a 5% reduction in the order price on the ground that the paper stock used for the blank forms did not meet the contract's specifications for JCP O-61 paper?16 IV. POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES a. Appellant The Appellant advances three reasons why the Contracting Officer's final decision denying its equitable adjustment claim and taking a reduction of the contract price should be reversed. First, the Contractor says that the blank forms it produced for the DFAS conformed to the contract specifications in all respects. See Appellant's Brief, dated June 20, 1994, at 3 (App. Brf.); RPTC, at 4. In that regard, the Appellant relies on the QCTD Report to show that it furnished "White, High Quality Xerographic Copier, Laser Printer" stock, with a basis weight of 20 pounds, as required by the contract (R4 File, Tab D). See App. Brf., at 3. The Contractor maintains that the note in the QCTD Report stating that the JCP O-61 specifications apply only to 24 pound paper, and not 20 pound stock-which it calls a Government admission against interest-is dispositive of the issue regarding whether or not it supplied paper in accordance with the specifications; i.e., the Appellant's stock met all measurable requirements, and even if the paper was "too rough" (the only defect found by the GPO inspector, based on her estimation of JCP O-61 standards for 20 pound stock), that deficiency did not affect the use of the product on the Bell & Howell equipment. Id. Therefore, the Contractor submits that the "irrefutable facts" show that its paper met all of the contract's "design specifications," and, when properly shrink-wrapped for extended storage, all of the "performance specifications," as well. See App. Brf., at 4. The Appellant's second contention in support of its equitable adjustment claim is that shrink-wrapping was not required by the contract specifications, and thus repacking with shrink-wrap constituted additional compensable work. Id.; RPTC, at 5. The crux of the Contractor's argument is that when the Respondent issued the Purchase Order with instructions to "pack suitable per shipping container," but without checking the "SHRINK FILM PACK" box, it authorized the method of packaging used to ship the blank forms.17 See App. Brf., at 5; RPTC, at 5. In the Appellant's view, the plain meaning of the phrase "pack suitable per shipping container," when examined against the "Packing" language in GPO Contract Terms, refers to the number of forms to be packed in the carton used for shipping, and has nothing to do with how the forms will be packaged within the box itself. See App. Brf., at 5 (citing GPO Contract Terms, Supplemental Specifications, ¶ 2). Furthermore, the Contractor says that nothing in the relevant supplement specification requires shrink-wrapping. Id. Instead, the Appellant believes that the Respondent made a mistake when it drafted the contract specifications, and it is seeking to rectify its error by a novel interpretation of clear contract language which would shift responsibility for correcting the resulting problem to the Contractor.18 See App. Brf., at 4-5. The Appellant does not dispute the efficacy of shrink-wrapping the forms for extended storage, but it asserts that an unvoiced need for this sort of packaging cannot trump the express words of the contract itself, which do not require shrink-wrapping.19 See App. Brf., at 5. Finally, the Contractor states that the Respondent is not entitled to take a 5% price reduction in the contract price because there was nothing wrong with the paper stock it used for performance. See App. Brf., at 5; RPTC, at 4-5. In that regard, the Appellant says that GPO assessed the discount for a failure to meet Bell & Howell's paper specifications. See App. Brf., at 4. However, the Contractor objects to the Government's use of Bell & Howell's requirements on the ground that they are not incorporated in the contract, and besides it was only asked to produce a form which would run on the manufacturer's equipment.20 Id. Furthermore, the Appellant contends that GPO's own test results cannot be used as the basis for finding the stock defective, because the QCTD Report admits that JCP O-61 standards do not apply to 20 pound paper. See App. Brf., at 5-6. Moreover, the Contractor alleges that the report's conclusion that the paper was rejectable because it was "too rough" is not sustainable, because it is based on JCP O-61 criteria for 20 pound paper which was fabricated by the inspector for the express purpose of measuring and analyzing the disputed stock; i.e., the standards are post-award and not referenced in the agreement. See App. Brf., at 5. Therefore, the Appellant asserts that since it was only required to manufacture the blank forms on paper which was "White, High Quality Xerographic Copier, Laser Printer" stock, with a basis weight of 20 pounds (R4 File, Tab B), and the QCTD Report says that its product satisfied those standards, the Contracting Officer's action rejecting the forms and taking a price reduction was unjustified. Accordingly, for these reasons, the Contractor submits that: (1) it is entitled to extra compensation in the amount of $5,661.59, for the additional labor, materials, and freight costs it incurred in repacking and redelivering the blank forms to DFAS; and (2) the Respondent's reduction in the contract price should be set aside. See App. Brf., at. 6; RPTC, at 5. B. Respondent Like the Appellant, the Respondent also supports its position in this case-that the Contracting Officer's decision denying the equitable adjustment claim and assessing a 5% discount in the contract price was correct-with three arguments. First, relying on "black letter" law which holds that the Government is entitled to strictly enforce compliance with its specifications,21 GPO maintains that the Contractor is not entitled to recover the costs it sustained in repacking the blank forms so that they would run on the Bell & Howell machinery. See Res. Brf., at 3 (citing American Electric Contracting Corp. v. United States, 579 F.2d 602 (Ct. Cl. 1978); Red Circle Corp. v. United States, 185 Ct. Cl. 1 (1968); Jefferson Construction Co. v. United States, 151 Ct. Cl. 75 (1960); International Lithographing, GPO BCA 1-88 (December 29, 1989), 1989 WL 384986; Rose Printing Co., GPO BCA 2-87 (June 9, 1989), 1989 WL 384981; Fry Communications, Inc., GPO BCA 1-87 (June 1, 1989), 1989 WL 384980; Mid-America Business Forms Corp., GPO BCA 8-87 (December 30, 1988), 1988 WL 363330; Dependable Printing Co., Inc., GPO BCA 5-84 (September 12, 1985), 1985 WL 154847); RPTC, at 4. The Respondent says that strict compliance is enforced in one of two ways: (1) outright rejection and reproduction of the defective product; or, (2) accepting the nonconforming supplies at a reduced price, if that is in the Government's best interest. See Res. Brf., at 3-4. Which remedy is in invoked is totally at the procuring agency's option. See Res. Brf., at 4 (citing Famous Model Co., Inc., ASBCA No. 12526, 68-1 BCA ¶ 6902; Cherry Meat Packers, Inc., ASBCA No. 8974, 1963 BCA ¶ 3937). GPO alleges that since there is no question that the blank forms did not function as specified, the Contracting Officer properly exercised his authority and elected to have the Appellant fix the defect by repacking the forms. See Res. Brf., at 4 (citing Boortz Declaration, ¶ 7; Macdonald Declaration, ¶ 4); RPTC, at 3-4. However, because the jamming problem was a clear performance failure on the part of the Appellant, GPO expected the Contractor to bear all of the correction costs. See Res. Brf., at 4 (citing Macdonald Declaration, ¶ 5); RPTC, at 6. Second, GPO asserts that there are two relevant specifications in this dispute, namely, the forms must be: (1) usable on the Xerox 4050 or 4090 printer, the Bell & Howell Mail Starr 500 inserter, and the Pitney Bowes tabletop folder; and (2) packed "suitable" for shipment. See Res. Brf., at 4; RPTC, at 5. The Respondent states that the plain language of these contract terms shows that they are "performance specifications," which, by definition, gave the Appellant total control over all aspects of the manufacturing and delivery process, and made it solely responsible for seeing that the Government received a product which met all performance requirements. See Res. Brf., at 4. Consequently, the Contractor's claim that the specifications are defective because the "SHRINK FILM PACK" box was not checked, is simply contrary to law. See Res. Brf., at 5 (citing J. L. Simmons Co., Inc. v. United States, 188 Ct. Cl. 684, 412 F.2d 1360 (1969); Frank Briscoe Co., Inc. and Huber, Hunt & Nichols, Inc. (Joint Venture),GSBCA No. 3568, 73-2 BCA ¶ 10,204; Blake Construction Co., Inc., GSBCA No. 3590, 73-1 BCA ¶ 9819; Red-Samm Mining Co., Inc. (Joint Venture), ASBCA No. 17324, 73-1 BCA ¶ 9811; Allied Contractors, Inc., ASBCA No. 5254, 60-2 BCA ¶ 2749). In other words, regardless of the technical cause of the performance failure-e.g., moisture absorption, insufficient stiffness of paper, curling of paper, or some unknown reason-once it was apparent that the paper would not run on the specified machinery, curing the problem was the Appellant's responsibility, and it chose a method (repacking with shrink-wrap) which proved successful.22 See Res. Brf., at 5; RPTC, at 5-6. Finally, the Government contends that it was entitled to take a 5% discount, or a $891.05 reduction in the contract price, for accepting forms produced on nonconforming paper.23 See Res. Brf., at 6; RPTC, at 4. GPO says that the discount was proper because the stock failed to meet JCP O-61 specifications for smoothness-a physical characteristic which is unaffected by the weight of the paper.24 See Res. Brf., at 6 (citing Subt Declaration, ¶ 4). Accordingly, for these reasons, the Respondent submits that the appeal should be denied in its entirety because the Appellant has failed to prove that it is legally entitled to an equitable adjustment for correcting the defective forms, while the Government has shown that its 5% discount was justified. See Res. Brf., at. 6; RPTC, at 4. V. DECISION This appeal leaves the Board with a feeling of deja vu. Not long ago, the Board issued an opinion in another dispute involving these same parties in which it reversed a GPO contracting officer's denial of the Appellant's equitable adjustment claim for reprinting forms which had been rejected for quality defects on the ground, inter alia, that the real reason why the original forms would not function properly could be traced to the Government's inadequate or defective design, and not to any production deficiency on the Contractor's part; thus, under the doctrine of "implied warranty of specifications," the Government bore the responsibility for nonperformance. See Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., GPO BCA 02-93 (May 19, 1995), slip op. at 62, 1995 WL 488488 (citing Colorgraphics Corp., GPO BCA 16-87 (March 31, 1989), slip op. at 22-24, 1989 WL 384970) (hereinafter Professional Printing I).25 Now, the parties, once again, have presented the Board with a controversy in which the Respondent says essentially, "I ordered forms which were to run a certain way, and the Appellant has delivered a product which does not work," and the Contractor replies in effect, "well, I followed the Government's specifications, and delivered what the contract asked for, so if the forms failed to run properly, the fault must be in the specifications."26 In so many words, this case, too, is about whether the doctrine of "implied warranty of specifications" has shifted the normal risk of nonperformance from the Contractor to the Government.27 In Professional Printing I, the Board observed that it is well- established that when the Government requires a contractor to follow detailed plans and specifications, it impliedly warrants that if the specifications are followed the result will be adequate and acceptable. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 55 (citing United States v. Spearin, 248 U.S. 132, 39 S.Ct. 59, 63 L.Ed. 166 (1918); Blake Construction Co. v. United States, 987 F.2d 743 (Fed. Cir. 1993); Hol-Gar Manufacturing Corp. v. United States, 175 Ct. Cl. 518, 360 F.2d 634 (1966); D.E.W., Inc., ASBCA No. 35896, 94-3 BCA ¶ 27,182; Santa Fe Engineers, Inc., ASBCA No. 45228, 93-2 BCA ¶ 25,555). However, if the specifications are defective and the warranty is breached, the contractor is entitled to compensation equal to the amount expended in trying to comply with the defective specifications. See Hol-Gar Manufacturing Corp. v. United States, supra, 360 F.2d at 638. The rationale for the rule is that: The Government's implied warranty of the adequacy of its specifications is based on its responsibility for the specifications rather than any presumed "superior knowledge" in the sense of greater expertise. When one of the parties to a contract undertakes to prepare the specifications, that party is responsible for the correctness, adequacy and feasibility of the specifications, and the other party is under no obligation to check and verify the work product of the party who assumed responsibility for the preparation of the specifications, even though he may be as much or more of an expert than the party who prepared the specifications. Courts have held many times that a bidder need not verify the correctness and adequacy of Government specifications prior to bidding. Ithaca Gun Co. v. United States, 176 Ct. Cl. 477 (1966); Harvey- Whipple, Inc. v. United States, 169 Ct. Cl. 689 (1965). See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 55; Colorgraphics Corp., supra, slip op. at 22 (quoting Consolidated Diesel Electric Corp., ASBCA No. 10496, 67-2 BCA ¶ 6669, at 30,951-52).28 A contractor seeking to avail itself of this "implied warranty" principle has the burden of showing that the Government's specifications were somehow defective and that they were the cause of the problems it experienced.29 See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 56; Printing Unlimited, GPO BCA 21-90 (November 30, 1993), slip op. at 17, 1993 WL 516844; Editors Press Incorporated, GPO BCA 3-90 (September 4, 1991), slip op. at 12-13, 1991 WL 439271. Accord Wornick Family Foods Co; ASBCA Nos. 41317, 41318, 41319, 94-2 BCA ¶ 26,808; Bradley Construction, Inc., ASBCA No. 39733, 91-2 BCA ¶ 23,974; AGH Industries, Inc., ASBCA Nos. 258, 26535, 85-1 BCA ¶ 17,784. Furthermore, as the Board noted in Professional Printing I, Government contracts like the one in dispute often contain both "performance" and "design" specifications. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 56 (citing Wornick Family Foods Co., supra; 94-2 BCA at 133,339; Falcon Jet Corp., DOT CAB No. 78-32, 82-1 BCA ¶ 15,477, at 76,691). There is a clear distinction in the law between these two types of specifications in determining the respective rights and obligations of the parties to a Government contract. Therefore, the starting point of the Board's analysis cases like this, where the doctrine of "implied warranty of specifications" is at issue, is a determination of the type of specification involved. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 56 (citing Aleutian Constructors v. United States, 24 Cl. Ct. 372 (1992)). Generally, design specifications explicitly state how the contract is to be performed and permit no deviations, while performance specifications focus on the results to be obtained, and leave it to the contractor to determine how to achieve that objective. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 57 (citing Neal & Co. v. United States, 19 Cl. Ct. 463, 468 (1990), aff'd, 945 F.2d 385 (Fed. Cir. 1991); Stuyvesant Dredging Co. v. United States, 834 F.2d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1987); J.L. Simmons Co., Inc. v. United States, supra, 188 Ct. Cl. at 684, 412 F.2d at 1360). As the Board has explained: [There are] DESIGN specifications which set forth precise measurements, tolerances, materials, in process and finished product tests, quality control, inspection requirement, and other specific information. Under this type specification, the Government is responsible for design and related omissions, errors, and deficiencies in the specifications and drawings. PERFORMANCE specifications set forth operational characteristics desired for the item. In such specifications, design, measurements and other specific details are not stated or considered important so long as the performance requirement is met. Where an item is purchased by a performance specification, the contractor accepts general responsibility for design, engineering, and achievement of the stated performance requirements. The contractor has general discretion and election as to detail but the work is subject to the Government's reserved right of final inspection and approval or rejection. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 57; Colorgraphics Corp., supra, slip op. at 23 (quoting Monitor Plastics Co., ASBCA No. 14447, 72-2 ¶ 9,626 (1972)). [Original emphasis.] See also Big Chief Drilling Co. v. United States, 26 Cl. Ct. 1276, 1294 (1992) ("Design specifications set forth in detail the materials to be employed and the manner in which the work is to be performed, and the contractor is 'required to follow them as one would a road map.' [Citation omitted.] Whereas, performance specifications simply set forth an objective or end result to be achieved, and the contractor may select the means of accomplishing the task. [Citation omitted.]"). This distinction is important because, while the Government is entitled to performance in strict compliance with design specifications, performance specifications are not as rigidly enforced since the contractor is expected to exercise his ingenuity and select the means for achieving the standard of performance required. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 58 (citing Carmon Construction, Inc., GSBCA No. 11227, 92-2 BCA ¶ 25,001, at 124,615; Falcon Jet Corporation, supra, 82-1 BCA at 76,691-92). Accord J.L. Simmons Co., Inc. v. United States; supra; Centre Manufacturing Co. v. United States, 183 Ct. Cl. 115, 392 F.2d 229 (1968); J.D. Hedin Construction Co. v. United States, 171 Ct. Cl. 70, 347 F.2d 235 (1965); R&M Mechanical Contractors, Inc., DOT CAB No. 75-51, 76-2 BCA ¶ 12,084; Santa Fe Engineers, Inc., ASBCA No. 22950, 79-2 BCA ¶ 14,084. Three specifications-the contract requirements for "PAPER" and "PACKING," and the "DESCRIPTION NOTE"-are involved in this case. In that regard, the "PACKING" specification is clearly central to the first question presented in this appeal, while the "PAPER" requirement goes to the heart of the second issue. The "DESCRIPTION NOTE," on the other hand, overlaps both issues. When the Board considers these specifications in light of the applicable law, it draws the following conclusions: A. The "PACKING" specification, as supplemented by GPO Contract Terms, is a mixture of design and performance elements. However, the relevant language is clearly performance in nature, making the Appellant totally responsible for ensuring that the order of blank forms was "suitably" packed not only for transportation, but for "preservation" and "required storage," as well. The decision to use shrink-wrap or some other packing material for that purpose rested with the Contractor. Accordingly, the post- delivery shrink-wrapping of the forms in this case was not a "constructive change" in the contract, and the Appellant is not entitled to an equitable adjustment for performing that additional work. The dispute involving the "PACKING" specification concerns the meaning of one word-"suitable"-in the contractual requirement "[p]ack suitable per shipping container," the terms relating to palletizing and labeling apparently having been performed satisfactorily (R4 File, Tab B). See GPO Contract Terms, Supplemental Specifications, ¶¶ 3, 7. More to the point, the parties are divided over whether "suitable" packing excluded the requirement for shrink-wrapping the ordered forms before placing them in the shipping containers, especially since the specification's "SHRINK FILM PACK" box was not checked, as the Appellant claims, see App. Brf., at 4-5; RPTC, at 5, or whether the provision for "suitable" packing was a "performance" requirement, which even without that box being checked, nonetheless obligated the Contractor to shrink-wrap the forms to ensure their subsequent usability by the DFAS, as the Respondent alleges, see Res. Brf., at 4-5; RPTC, at 5-6. Clearly, if the Appellant is correct, then its after-delivery shrink-wrapping of the forms is a compensable "change," within the meaning of the "Changes" clause. See GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses, ¶ 4(a)(2). However, if GPO is right, then the Contractor failed to provide "suitable" packing for the original shipment, and the subsequent shrink-wrapping of the forms merely rectified the Appellant's previous poor performance, for which the Government could not be charged. Id., ¶¶ 14(f), 15(b)(2)(i). In the Board's view, the Government has the better argument. As near as the Board can determine from its own research, the question concerning the "PACKING" specification presents a matter of first impression. On the other hand, even though the Board is in uncharted waters, settled principles of contract interpretation provide the "philosophical compass for navigating a way through the shoals of this . . . dispute." See Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 29; Banta Co., GPO BCA 03-91 (November 15, 1993), slip op. at 25, 1993 WL 526843. Suffice it to say that the Appellant's allegation during the prehearing conference that the "PACKING" specification is ambiguous,30 see RPTC, at 5, triggers a family of special interpretive rules which the Board will apply to the "four corners" of the parties' agreement to determine which of the two conflicting meanings is correct, or whether both readings may be reasonably derived from the contract terms.31 See Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 29; MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 42; The George Marr Co., GPO BCA 31-94 (April 23, 1996), slip op. at 40-41, 1996 WL 273662; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 47; Web Business Forms, Inc., GPO BCA 16-89 (September 30, 1994) slip op. at 17, 1994 WL 837423; Universal Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 26, n. 27; RD Printing Associates, Inc., GPO BCA 2-92 (December 16, 1992), slip op. at 9, 13, ns. 9 and 15, 1992 WL 516088; R.C. Swanson Printing and Typesetting Co., supra, slip op. at 41; General Business Forms, Inc., GPO BCA 2-84 (December 3, 1985), slip op. at 16, 1985 WL 154846. Those "ambiguity" principles have been set forth at length in numerous past cases, including the parties' previous dispute, see Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 47-48, and are well- known.32 However, the rules governing ambiguous contract language only apply if the meaning of the disputed terms are not susceptible to interpretation through the usual rules of contract construction, the most basic of which is that the document should be interpreted as a whole. See Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 32; MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 45; The George Marr Co., supra, slip op. at 43; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 49; Webb Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 19-20; McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., supra, slip op. at 16; R.C. Swanson Printing and Typesetting Co., supra, slip op. at 42; General Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 16. See also Hol-Gar Manufacturing Corp. v. United States, 169 Ct. Cl. 384, 388, 351 F.2d 972, 975 (1965). Hence, all provisions of a contract should be given effect and no provision is to be rendered meaningless. See Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 33; MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 45; The George Marr Co., supra, slip op. at 43-44; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 49-50; Webb Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 20; General Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 16 (citing Raytheon Co. v. United States, 2 Cl. Ct. 763 (1983)). See also Fortec Constructors v. United States, 760 F.2d 1288, 1292 (Fed. Cir. 1985); Pacificorp Capital, Inc. v. United States, 25 Cl. Ct. 707, 716 (1992), aff'd 988 F.2d 130 (Fed. Cir. 1993); Avedon Corp. v. United States, 15 Cl. Ct. 771, 776 (1988); United States v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 713 F.2d 1541, 1555 (Fed. Cir. 1983); Martin Lane Co. v. United States, 193 Ct. Cl. 203, 215, 432 F.2d 1013, 1019 (1970). In other words, a contract should be interpreted in a manner which gives meaning to all of its parts and in such a fashion that the provisions do not conflict with each other, if this is reasonably possible. See Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 33; MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 46; The George Marr Co., supra, slip op. at 44; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 50; Webb Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 20. Accord Granite Construction Co. v. United States, 962 F.2d 998 (Fed. Cir. 1992); B. D. Click Co. v. United States, 614 F.2d 748 (Ct. Cl. 1980). That is, an interpretation which gives a reasonable meaning to all parts of a contract will be preferred to one which leaves a portion of it "useless, inexplicable, inoperative, void, insignificant, meaningless, superfluous, or achieves a weird and whimsical result." See Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 33; MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 46; The George Marr Co., supra, slip op. at 44-45 (citing Gould, Inc. v. United States, 935 F.2d 1271, 1274 (Fed. Cir. 1991), quoting Arizona v. United States, 216 Ct. Cl. 221, 235-36, 575 F.2d 855, 863 (1978)); Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 50-51. See also ITT Arctic Service, Inc. v. United States, 207 Ct. Cl. 743, 524 F.2d 680, 684 (1975) (contract interpretation should be "without twisted or strained out of context [and without] regard to the subjective unexpressed intent of one of the parties. . ."). An interpretation that effectively deletes a major portion of the contract cannot and will not be sanctioned.33 See Avedon Corp. v. United States, supra, 15 Cl. Ct. at 776 (citing W.G. Cornell Co. v. United States, 179 Ct. Cl. 651, 666-67, 376 F.2d 299, 309 (1967)). As indicated above, because the Respondent relies on the "strict compliance" rule, the Board's analysis begins with an identification of the kind of requirement-"design" or "performance"-at issue. At first blush, the Purchase Order's "PACKING" language, to the extent that it is in controversy, looks deceptively simple; i.e., "[p]ack suitable per shipping container" (R4 File, Tab B). However, when the packing specifications contained in GPO Contract Terms are also considered, the contract's overall packing requirements are extremely detailed. See GPO Contract Terms, Supplemental Specifications, ¶ 2. Furthermore, it is also clear that when the provisions are viewed in the aggregate, the packing specification is composed of both design requirements (e.g., that each packing unit be of a uniform size and quantity; each shipping container not exceed 45 pounds when fully packed, unless otherwise indicated; only new corrugated or solid fiberboard containers conforming to Federal Specification PPP-B-636 and any amendments, may be used; containers shall have a bursting strength of 275 pounds per square inch minimum, etc.) and performance elements (e.g., allowing the contractor to choose packaging which conforms to either the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) or the Uniform Freight Classification (UFC) tariff; to select packing material "of such quality as to insure arrival of the printed matter at its destination in a satisfactory and usable condition;" to seal containers with tape, provided that the butted edges of the flaps are completely covered and extend at least 2 inches on the ends of the containers, etc.). Id. Indeed, the Purchase Order's "[p]ack suitable per shipping container" appears to be nothing more than a paraphrase of the supplemental specification's "[s]olid pack in suitable paperboard boxes," and that language is clearly performance in nature. Id., ¶ 2 (d) (Boxing) However, despite the aforementioned design elements, the Board is persuaded that the contract's packing specification is, by and large, a performance requirement in which operational goals predominate over precise measurements, tolerances, and materials. Cf. Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 37-38 (specification predominantly design in nature); Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 59 (same) (citing Neal & Co. v. United States, supra, 19 Cl. Ct. at 468; Falcon Jet Corp., supra, 82-1 BCA at 76,691). Consequently, except for the need to meet certain design characteristics with respect to packing materials, the Appellant had full discretion, and was totally responsible, for planning and achieving the stated performance objectives for packing. Id. Accord Big Chief Drilling Co. v. United States, 26 Cl. Ct. 1276, 1294 (1992). Thus, the dispute over the "PACKING" specification boils down to two questions: (1) what were the performance objectives which the Appellant was expected to accomplish; and (2) was its method of packing "suitable" for that purpose?34 The Contractor has the burden of proof on the "suitability" issue. See Braceland Brothers, supra, slip op. at 26; a & E Copy Center, supra, slip op. at 22, 1996 WL 812881; Web Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 13-14; Printing Unlimited, supra, slip op. at 18. Accord Clean Sweep Janitorial and Law Service, ASBCA Nos. 35442, 35568, 91-3 BCA ¶ 24,089 (landscaping services contractor did not prove willow oak trees called for in the contract were unsuitable for planting). The first inquiry essentially involves determining what packing costs the Contractor was required to incur under the contract. See Unicom Systems, Inc., ASBCA No. 29468, 84-3 BCA ¶ 17,675, at 88,162. In that regard, the Appellant reads the contract as requiring nothing more than packing the forms in shipping containers which were strong enough to ensure that the boxes would arrive at the DFAS without loss or damage to the contents. No one disputes that the Appellant used shipping containers which adequately protected the forms on their way to the customer- agency, and there is no suggestion in the record of any loss or damage to the forms in transit. Since the Appellant apparently believes that the scope of its packing responsibilities began in its shipping room and ended at the DFAS' receiving dock, it contends that it did all it was required to do under the contract, and that its boxes met the contractual test of "suitability." However, the Contractor's view of its responsibilities is too narrow, and it completely misapprehends the performance nature of the packing specification in toto. The performance objectives of the contractual packing requirements are clearly spelled out in the first three sentences of the supplemental specification: The method of packing indicated in the specifications must be accomplished in accordance with the following interpretations. The method and manner of packaging for preservation and required storage and/or transportation shall be in accordance with either the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) or the Uniform Freight Classification (UFC) tariff. The material used in packing must be of such quality as to insure arrival of the printed matter at its destination in a satisfactory and usable condition. . . . . See GPO Contract Terms, Supplemental Specifications, ¶ 2. [Emphasis added.] From the above, it can be seen that "suitable" packing under the contract is not simply confined to protecting the supplies for shipment, but also extends to taking whatever steps are necessary for their preservation and required storage, based on the realistic assumption that delivered supplies might not be used immediately. Only packing which accomplished all three aims-transportation, preservation, and storage-can be considered "suitable" under the contract. Thus, under the specification, the Respondent expected the Appellant to consider not only the method of packing before the forms were handed over to its freight agent for delivery to DFAS, but also any additional protection which might be needed for preservation and required storage. The Appellant frankly admits that "shrink-wrapping the product may be necessary to cause it to function at maximum efficiency if stored in a non-climate controlled facility over an extended period of time," and concedes that by shrink-wrapping the forms in this case the performance problems on the Bell & Howell inserter were resolved. See App. Brf., at 5. Its reason for not shrink-wrapping the original shipment of forms was that the "PACKING" specification's "SHRINK FILM PACK" box was not checked. However, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) has held that in a contract based on a performance specification, the contractor's expertise is central to the bargain. See Fairfield Machine Co., Inc., ASBCA No. 22704, 85-2 BCA ¶ 17,969. Thus, in that case the ASBCA reasoned, in pertinent part: Appellant's second basis for claiming the second 10-ring test to be a constructive change is not as readily disposed of. The Arsenal insisted that the machine demonstrate "an acceptable degree of reliability" by completing a 10-ring test "without interruption caused by machine breakdown." [Finding omitted.] That requirement is not set forth in the specifications nor does the contract explicitly prescribe the level of reliability to be attained and demonstrated by the machine. The absence of an explicit provision does not necessarily preclude the existence of a contractual requirement relating to reliability of operation. Where, as here, the Government enters into a contract for supplies on the basis of a performance specification, the know-how of the contractor is a critical element of the transaction. The contractor, in those circumstances, is expected to apply its knowledge and experience to producing a product that will not only render the performance called for but also will operate with the degree of reliability and dependability generally expected of such equipment. C.L.M. Sales Co., DOT CAB No. 77-32, 79-1 BCA ¶ 13,852. The specification told appellant that the machine to be procured would replace existing equipment performing a described function. Appellant actually observed the existing equipment in operation and noted the surrounding operations and circumstances. With that knowledge and its accumulated know-how in design and construction of special machines, it was obliged to construct and deliver a machine that not only met the specified performance requirements but operated at a level of reliability appropriate for the breech ring manufacturing process in which it would be utilized. Id., 85-2 BCA at 90,084. [Emphasis added.] See also Intercontinental Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. United States, 4 Cl. Ct. 591, 599-600 (1984) (". . . [W]ith an end-product specification such as is here involved, . . . it is incumbent upon the aggrieved contractor to explain why, . . . it would have been beyond its properly expected skills and abilities to have foreseen the manufacturing problems that were encountered and the solutions they demanded. . . . One who is in the business of understanding and applying the machining techniques and skills necessary to translate a drawing design into a fabricated end product must be held to be aware of the limiting characteristics of those common materials he may be called upon to work with. To have it any other way would oblige every buyer to become his own expert-hardly a plausible idea."). Measured against these principles, the Appellant's claim that the contract only required it to place nonshrink-wrapped forms in shipping cartons because that the Government's failed to mark the "SHRINK FILM PACK" box on the Purchase Order, is without merit. This is not a situation where the parties discussed the packaging arrangements prior to award and the Government later changed its mind and asked for something else. See Unicom Systems, Inc., supra.35 Here, the express terms of the contract also required the Appellant to incorporate the preservation and storage of the blank forms into its packing plans. See GPO Contract Terms, Supplemental Specifications, ¶ 2. The Contractor, after all, was working under a performance requirement, and had full discretion with respect to the materials and means for achieving the packing specification's stated ends. Thus, if the Appellant thought shrink-wrapping was the best method for preserving and protecting the forms, then it was expected to perform that task as part of the contract, in accordance, of course, with the "shrink-film wrapping" clause of the supplement specification. Id., ¶ 2(c). No special direction from the Respondent was necessary. In the Board's opinion, any other interpretation of the packing specification here carries the distinct risk of elevating substandard performance into a contractual norm. See Intercontinental Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. United States, supra, 4 Cl. Ct. at 599. Accordingly, the Board finds that the limited meaning given to the "PACKING" specification by the Contractor effectively reads the supplemental requirements of GPO Contract Terms out of the agreement, and hence is unreasonable. On the other hand, the Government's interpretation of the "PACKING" specification, because it focuses on the performance nature of that requirement, encompasses all of its goals-transportation, preservation, and storage-and is the only reasonable interpretation of the contract. As the Board has stated on numerous occasion, when a contract admits to only one construction, it is not ambiguous.36 See e.g., The George Marr Co., supra, slip op. at 55; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 54; Webb Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 21; R.C. Swanson Printing and Typesetting Co., supra, slip op. at 48. Accord Falcon Jet Corp., supra, 82-1 BCA at 76,693 (citing Martin Lane Co. v. United States, supra; General Dynamics Corp., DOT CAB 76-29, 79-1 BCA ¶ 13,858). In light of the Board's holding with regard to the performance requirements of the "PACKING" specification, the question concerning whether the Appellant "suitably" packed the forms is easily disposed of. The record leaves no doubt that the Contracting Officer's primary interest in how the blank forms were packed was in ensuring that they were usable on the equipment specified after delivery. See Macdonald Declaration, ¶ 4. Indeed, the supplemental packing specification expressly requires that ordered supplies be received "in a satisfactory and usable condition." See GPO Contract Terms, Supplemental Specifications, ¶ 2 . Furthermore, it is undisputed that when the forms were used after a period of storage they failed to operate properly on the Bell & Howell inserter, as required by the contract (R4 File, Tab B). The record evidence is conclusive that the reason the forms jammed on the inserter was that they were not properly protected for "required storage." Moreover, there is nothing in the record to indicate that the forms failed for reasons attributable to the Respondent and/or DFAS. See B&L Construction Co., Inc., ENG BCA No. 5708, 91-2 BCA ¶ 23,840, at 119,475 (citing Robert McMullin & Son, Inc., ASBCA No. 21455, 77-1 BCA ¶ 12,456). Since the "PACKING" specification made the Appellant responsible for packing the blank forms with their preservation and storage in mind, and gave the Contractor full discretion to choose whatever materials were appropriate to achieve those ends, the product's failure to run on the Bell & Howell inserter must be laid at its doorstep. See Bradley Construction, Inc., ASBCA No. 39733, 91-2 BCA ¶ 23,974; AGH Industries, Inc., supra. Indeed, the Government had a right to expect that the Appellant, who had produced these and similar forms in the past, would use its expertise in packing them, and to put it bluntly, the Contractor did not do so. In a sense, this dispute is similar to the situation facing the ASBCA in Service Engineering Co., where the contractor maintained that stanchions and other supports not shown in the contract's Guidance Plan constituted changed work. The contract, however, made the contractor responsible for omitted details necessary to fulfill the intent of the specification. The ASBCA found the contractor responsible for the omitted stanchions and supports, stating, in pertinent part: SECO was an experienced contractor, having overhauled a number of Navy vessels. [Finding omitted.] It had experienced estimators. [Finding omitted.] We simply cannot accept the notion that SECO could have been so naive as to believe that what was shown in the Guidance Plans constituted the total scope of its work, particularly in view of the above-cited specification provision. See Service Engineering Co., ASBCA No. 40272, 92-3 BCA ¶ 25,106, at 125,183. See also Northwest Marine, Inc., ASBCA No. 43502, 94-1 BCA ¶ 2,521, at 131,999 (". . . [W]e cannot conclude that a contractor as experienced as appellant was misled into believing it was not responsible for foundation materials, particularly in light of the several bid, contract, and Master Agreement statements . . . making appellant responsible for all but Government-furnished materials."). Therefore, under these circumstances, it cannot be said that the Respondent breached its implied warranty that its specifications were adequate, id., at 131,998 (citing Natus Corp. v. United States, 371 F.2d 450, 458 (Ct. Cl. 1967), or that the Contractor "suitably" packed the blank forms-the product's failure to run properly on the Bell & Howell inserter is proof enough of that fact, see Fairfield Machine Co., Inc., supra, 85-2 BCA at 90,085. Under the "PACKING" specification's supplemental provisions, as well as the "Warranty" clause, the Contracting Officer was expressly authorized to direct the Appellant to correct the problem at its own expense. See GPO Contract Terms, Supplemental Specifications, ¶ 2; Contract Clauses, ¶¶ 15(a)(1)(ii(b))(2), (b) (2)(i). Accordingly, the Appellant is not entitled to an equitable adjustment for performing the necessary additional work. See Northwest Marine, Inc., supra; Service Engineering Co., supra; Bradley Construction, Inc., supra. Rather, liability for the cost of bringing the forms into conformance with the requirements of this fixed-price contract is the Contractor's alone. See New South Press, supra; Web Business Forms, Inc., supra. Accord B&L Construction Co., Inc., supra; Kilgore Corp., supra; DK's Precision Machining and Manufacturing, supra; Chevron U.S.A., Inc., supra. B. The Purchase Order's "PAPER" specification allowed the Appellant to use 20 pound stock for the blank forms. Therefore, the JCP O-61 standards for smoothness are inapplicable, and the determination that the paper was nonconforming is without contractual support. Furthermore, and the doctrine of "implied warranty of specifications" shifted the risk of any performance problems which might have been due to the roughness of the paper to the Respondent. Moreover, under the agreement's "Warranty" clause, the Contracting Officer had the option of directing the Appellant to correct the performance problem with the paper, or taking a discount in the contract price, but he could not do both. Accordingly, there is no legal basis for imposing a 5% reduction in the contract price under the circumstances of this case. Although the Respondent has prevailed on the "PACKING" specification question, a different result is warranted on the issue of whether it was entitled to take a 5% discount, totalling $891.05, in the contract price on the ground that the paper stock failed to meet JCP O-61 standards for smoothness. See Res. Brf., at 6; RPTC, at 4. The Appellant claims that its paper fully satisfied the contract's the paper requirements, and besides the standards used to disqualify its stock were formulated "out of whole cloth" in the QCTD laboratory. See App. Brf., at 5-6; RPTC, at 4-5. In the Board's view, the Contractor has the better argument. There are two specifications in the contract relating to the paper stock-one "design" and the other "performance." The "design" specification sets forth four paper characteristics; i.e., the stock must: (1) be white, high quality xerographic copier, laser printer paper; (2) conform to JCP Code No. O-61; (3) have a sheet size of 17" x 22"; and (4) have a basis weight (500 sheets) of 20 or 24 pounds (R4 File, Tab B). Meanwhile, the "performance" requirement says that the paper "must be suitable for use on a Xerox 4050 or 4090 printer, and will process on a Bell and Howell Mail Starr 500 or Pitney Bowes table top folder." It is unclear whether the Respondent's position on the "discount" issue makes a connection between the two, i.e., the roughness of the paper caused the jamming problems on the Bell & Howell inserter, or whether its 5% reduction in the contract price is based solely on the technical inadequacy of the stock with respect to smoothness, as determined by QCTD (R4 File, Tab D). Stated otherwise, given the time which passed between delivery of the forms and their use by the DFAS, the Board cannot tell from this record whether the Government's claim relies on the "latent defects' provision of the "Inspection and Tests" clause, see GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses, ¶ 14(k) ("Acceptance shall be conclusive, except for latent defects . . ."), or the warranty protections of the "Warranty" clause which override the conclusiveness of acceptance, id., ¶ 15(a)(1)(i) ("Notwithstanding inspection and acceptance by the Government of supplies furnished or any condition concerning the conclusiveness thereof, the contractor warrants that for 120 days from the date of the check tendered as final payment-(i) All supplies furnished will be free from defects in material or workmanship and will conform to all requirements; . . .").37 However, in either case GPO's discount claim cannot be sustained. In the first place, it is undisputed that but for Respondent's contention that the stock failed to measure up to the smoothness standards of JCP O-61, the Appellant's paper conformed to every other aspect of Purchase Order's "PAPER" specification; i.e., it was correct as to color (white), kind (high quality xerographic copier, laser printer paper), size (17" x 22"), and basis weight (20 pounds). Furthermore, GPO cannot escape the legal ramifications of its own test report which states that JCP O-61 specifications did not apply because they were written for 24 pound stock only, and thus the finding that Contractor's paper was too rough was based on the analyst's estimation of "what 20 lb. O-61 might be" (R4 File, Tab D, QCTD Report). While the Government alleges that the smoothness of paper is a quality unaffected by its basis weight,38 the fact remains the stock in this case was not measured against JCP O-61 specifications, as written, but rather by some ad hoc standard formulated in the laboratory for the express purpose of testing the 20 pound paper. That "smoothness" is an important paper quality for printing cannot be denied. See POCKET PAL: A Graphic Arts Production Handbook, at 166 (14th ed. 1989) (POCKET PAL).39 So is "runnability" for that matter. Id., at 164.40 However, there is no indication in the record that the Appellant's paper failed to run satisfactorily on either of the Xerox printers specified in the contract, or even the Pitney Bowes table top folder, but rather the jamming occurred afterwards when the forms were processed through the Bell & Howell inserter. Furthermore, the Respondent has not offered any evidence which would tend to show that the roughness of the paper was responsible for the runnability problems on that machine, while there is ample proof in the record that the jamming was caused by the paper curling either from ambient moisture or an extensive period of storage without shrink-wrapping. See App. Exh. Nos. 1 and 3; Williams Letter. Consequently, the GPO's insistence on stock which meets the smoothness standards of JCP O-61 would appear to have no better purpose than to simply enforce those paper specifications for their own sake. No one questions the Government's right to require complete or perfect performance in its specifications. See Custom Printing Co., Inc., supra, slip op. at 79; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 64; McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., supra, slip op. at 19-20; Shepard Printing, supra, slip op. at 19-20; Stephenson, Inc., supra, slip op. at 20-21; Copigraph, Inc., GPO BCA 20-86 (May 25, 1989), slip op. at 2, 1989 WL 385174. Accord Thermal Electronic, Inc. v. United States, 25 Cl. Ct. 671, 673 (1992). On the other hand, the law is also clear that before the Government can reject a contractor's product, either as a prelude to default or some lesser action, it must first establish specific, quantifiable, objective, and firm criteria indicating the level of quality which the product is expected to meet.41 See Custom Printing Co., Inc., supra, slip op. at 70; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 68 (citing Wornick Family Foods Co., supra; Shirley Contracting Corp. and ATEC Contracting Corp., ENGBCA No. 4650, 85-3 BCA ¶ 18,214; John L. Hall dba Taiga Resource Consultants, AGBCA No. 92-217-1, 93-3 BCA ¶ 26,212; Chandler-Wilbert Vault Co., VACAB No. 1444, 80-2 BCA ¶ 14,682; Mid-American Engineering and Manufacturing, supra). See also Elgin Business Forms, GPOCAB 10-84 (October 19, 1984), slip op. at 5-8, 1984 WL 148108; Electronic Composition, Inc., (GPOCAB, December 22, 1978), slip op. at 34, 1978 WL 22339 (citing Elgin National Watch Co., ASBCA Nos. 10421, 10589, 10698, 10730, 11721, 67-2 BCA ¶ 6400; ITT Arctic Services, Inc. v. United States, supra).42 Usually, such standards are spelled out in the parties' contract. However, where the contract fails to establish acceptance criteria, the standard against which contract work is measured is the standard customary within the industry. See Total Reproductions, Inc., GPO BCA 16-88 (February 2, 1990), slip op. at 17, 1990 WL 454979. Accord WRB Corp. v. United States, 183 Ct. Cl. 409, 445 (1968); Max J. Kuney Co.,DOT BCA No. 2759, 94-3 BCA ¶ 27,245, at 135,751; D.E.W., Inc., ASBCA No. 37232, 93-1 BCA ¶ 25,444, at 126, 712. The parties have traveled this road before. In Professional Printing I, as in this case, the Respondent rejected a shipment of forms because they did not function properly on the customer-agency's equipment. The forms in question were prescription forms containing two main security features; i.e., sequential numbering and a "Void" pantograph which was supposed to appear when the form was reproduced on a copy machine. Although the Appellant tested the copying quality of the first installment of forms prior to shipment with satisfactory results, the customer-agency (the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) complained that the "Void" pantograph would not reproduce on its copiers. When GPO's test of the forms also failed to produce the "Void" pantograph, the Contracting Officer rejected the shipment and required the Contractor to reprint to order with a changed "drop out" pattern. After it had complied with the reprint request, the Appellant filed an equitable adjustment claim, which the Contracting Officer denied. However, the Board found that the Contractor was entitled to extra compensation for two reasons: (a) the operational failure stemmed from a defective Government design, not any performance problem, and thus, the doctrine of "implied warranty of specifications" applied, see Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 62; and (b) the evaluation standards used by the Contracting Officer in reaching his conclusion that the forms were defective was not disclosed in the record-"a fatal defect," id., slip op. at 80-81. In the latter regard, the Board relied heavily on the ad hoc panel's decision in Elgin Business Forms, for its conclusion that in the absence of such testing or measurement criteria in the specifications, elsewhere in the contract, or in GPO's quality assurance regulations, the basis for rejection could not be established.43 Id., slip op. at 71-73 (citing Elgin Business Forms supra, slip op. at 5-6). Accord Wornick Family Foods Co., supra; Shirley Contracting Corp. and ATEC Contracting Corp., supra; Chandler-Wilbert Vault Co., supra; Mid-American Engineering and Manufacturing, supra. See also Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 74-75; Electronic Composition, supra, slip op. at 34. As an analytical matter, the Board sees no distinction between the parties' former dispute and this one. In the Board's opinion, no logical difference exists between the total absence of clear and objective evaluation standards in the previous case, and the attempt to apply nonapplicable paper specifications in this one. In each situation there is a measurement void, which the Respondent tried to fill with an ad hoc solution based on the subjective viewpoint of the Contracting Officer and/or the Government inspector (usually both). However, as the prior controversy makes clear, the Board has consistently required that before GPO imposes its subjective judgment on otherwise unsuspecting contractors, the specifications must alerted them to the standards they will be expected to meet. See Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 79; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 75. See also RD Printing Associates, Inc., supra, slip op. at 23-24. In this case, that simply means the Respondent cannot unilaterally apply the JCP O-61 paper specification, or any portion of it, to 20 pound stock, because that amounts to an impermissible rewriting of the contract. See Unicom Systems, Inc., supra, 84-3 BCA at 88,163. Secondly, if GPO is contending that the roughness of the Appellant's paper somehow caused the jamming problems on the Bell & Howell inserter, then its argument is undermined by the contract specifications themselves. In that regard, the Purchase Order's "PAPER" specification gave the Appellant the option of using either 20 or 24 pound stock (R4 File, Tab B). The Appellant selected 20 pound paper for the forms, and thus satisfied the specification to that extent (R4 File, Tab D). The contract also said that whichever basis weight was used, the paper had to satisfy JCP O-61 standards ("PAPER" specification), and run on certain specified machinery, including the Bell & Howell inserter ("DESCRIPTION NOTE"). However, as indicated above, that the JCP O-61 paper specifications do not apply to 20 pound stock, and, of course, the paper did not operate on the Bell & Howell equipment. Consequently, the issue boils down to whether the risk of nonperformance can be shifted to the Government even where, as here, a performance specification ("DESCRIPTION NOTE") is involved? Applying accepted principles of law to the facts in this case, the answer to that question is "Yes." It is well-settled that the "implied warranty of specifications" extends to all contract alternatives as a "special application" thereof. See Bart Associates, Inc., supra, 96-2 BCA at 142,235-4; Wornick Family Foods Co., supra, 94-2 BCA at 133,339. See generally, John Cibinic, Jr. & Ralph C. Nash, Jr., Administration of Government Contracts 283-84 (3d ed. 1995) (and cases cited therein) (hereinafter Cibinic & Nash). The rule is that when the Government provides for two alternative methods of performance, a contractor has a right to assume that either method is feasible, and that either method will achieve the desired result without further investigation into its acceptability, regardless of whether a "design" or "performance" specification is involved. See Bart Associates, Inc., supra, 96-2 BCA at 142,235-4 (citing Neal & Co., Inc. v. United States, supra; Harrison Wester/Franki-Denys, Inc., ENGBCA No. 5523, 92-1 BCA ¶ 24,582; S & M-Traylor Brothers, ENGBCA No. 3852, 78-2 BCA ¶ 13,495; Southern Paving Corp., AGBCA No. 74-103, 77-2 BCA ¶ 12,813; Detweiler Brothers, Inc., ASBCA No. 17897, 74-2 BCA ¶ 10,858). See generally Cibinic & Nash, at 283. Thus, in a recent case, the Department of Energy Board of Contract Appeals (EBCA) decided that a power line contractor who was allowed to choose between polymer and porcelain insulators was not liable for using polymer insulators which subsequently failed, and dismissed the agency's argument that the performance-nature of the specifications allocated the risk of failure to the contractor, with the following reasoning: In the Board's view, however, determination of the issue before us rests on broader considerations than the narrow focus of Appellant and Respondent, on the nature of the specifications. Thus, whether design, performance, or mixed is neither conclusive nor determinative. [Footnote omitted.] Instead, . . . the extent of any Government implied warranty does not turn alone in some purely mechanical fashion on whether various elements that may characterize a specification as design, performance, or mixed are present or absent. Specifications do not stand alone but must be considered in the context of all the accompanying circumstances. Johnson Electronics, Inc., 65-1 BCA ¶ 4628 (ASBCA 1964), at 22,106; Whittaker Corporation, [Power Sources Division, 79-1 BCA ¶ 13,805 (ASBCA), at 67,696.] . . . Accordingly, the particular facts of a case govern whether reliance on specification-type alone and the absence or presence of various details therein are appropriate as a risk allocation device. The surrounding circumstances here must be considered to see if the parties start on an equal footing or if, by reason of such circumstances, the risk has been shifted, making the author of the specifications the "root cause" of problems that Bart could not reasonably foresee. See Greenbriar Indus., Inc., 81-1 BCA ¶ 14,982, at 74,135 (ASBCA) recons. denied, 81-1 BCA ¶ 15,057. See Bart Associates, Inc., supra, 96-2 BCA at 142,235-3. The EBCA added that: By offering equivalent alternative methods of performance, any distinction in assumption of risk between design and performance- type specifications was subsumed, and Respondent changed the risk factor in favor of the Appellant. Cf., Johnson Electronics, supra. Even if the specifications were performance type, the assumption of risk that Respondent sought to impose upon Appellant thereby no longer applied. See S & M-Traylor Bros., at 66,054. Thus, even if as Respondent contends, Division 6 of the specifications set forth operational characteristics, objectives and standards to be met, they were adequate for porcelain insulation and inadequate for polymer insulators. Respondent is hoist on its own petard. Id., at 142,235-4.44 See also S & M-Traylor Brothers, supra, 78-2 BCA at 66,054 ("[The "assumption of risk" doctrine] has no place in the case of an owner-generated design, where the contractor's only discretion is to choose between two specified procedures. Nor do we agree that a clause which, on its face, appears to enlarge the contractor's range of alternatives, can be construed as a warning that the specified alternative may be infeasible. The rule is exactly the opposite; by providing two methods of performance the contract implies that either will achieve the desired result."). See generally Cibinic & Nash, at 283-84. In the Board's view, the EBCA's statement of the law in Bart Associates, Inc., is equally applicable to this case. Thus, even though the Purchase Order's "DESCRIPTION NOTE" is technically a performance specification, because the "PAPER" requirement allowed a choice between 20 or 24 pound stock, the Appellant could assume, without further investigation, that usable blank forms would result from the lesser weight paper. Furthermore, the legal effect of providing for equivalent alternative methods of performance in the contract was to eliminate the normal risks which the Contractor would have shouldered under a performance- type specification, and shift that burden to the Respondent. Therefore, the Appellant is entitled to the benefit of the "implied warranty of specifications" on the paper issue. See Bart Associates, Inc., supra, 96-2 BCA at 142,235-4; Wornick Family Foods Co., supra, 94-2 BCA at 133,339; S & M-Traylor Brothers, supra, 78-2 BCA at 66,054. Finally, given the fact that nearly four months passed between delivery of the forms to DFAS and their ultimate use by the customer-agency, it is clear that the Contracting Officer handled the jamming problem as a warranty matter.45 The "Warranty" clause provides the Government with two possible remedies for contractor breaches of warranty-directing the contractor to correct or replace the defective supplies, or retaining the supplies at an appropriate discount in the contract price. See GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses, ¶¶ 15(b)(2)(i), (ii). The plain meaning of the remedy provision, which is expressed in the disjunctive, is that a Contracting Officer may do one or the other, but not both. However, in this case the Contracting Officer invoked both remedies-he ordered the Appellant to fix the jamming problem at its own expense, and he reduced the contract price by 5% "[a]s compensation for accepting the defective product," as determined by the QCTD Report (R4 File, Tab F). The Board has already stated its reasons for rejecting the test results in the QCTD Report as the basis for finding that the 20 pound stock used by the Appellant failed to meet JCP O-61 paper standards. Furthermore, the simple answer to the Respondent's contention that its 5% discount tracks the guidelines in QATAP, see R4 File, Tab F; Boortz Declaration, ¶ 8, and indeed, could have been even larger under that regulation, see Res. Brf., at 6, n. 1, is that QATAP is not part of this contract; i.e., as the Board has pointed out above, the QATAP box on the Purchase Order is not checked. In the Board's view, once the Contracting Officer allowed the forms to be shrink-wrapped, which the parties agree corrected the jamming problem, he effectively made an election of remedy under the "Warranty" clause, and foreclosed the Government's right to take a discount as the price for accepting the product. Imposition of a 5% discount under these circumstances amount to contractual "double jeopardy."46 Accordingly, reducing the contract price in this case was an erroreous act, and the Respondent owes the Contractor a $891.05 refund. ORDER Considering the record as a whole, the Board finds and concludes that: (1) under the relevant provisions of the "PACKING" specification, as supplemented by GPO Contract Terms, "suitable" packing encompassed "transportation," "preservation" and "required storage;" (2) the pertinent parts of the specification are clearly performance in nature, making the Appellant totally responsible for accomplishing the contractual objectives; and (3) thus, the Contractor is not entitled to an equitable adjustment for its post-delivery shrink-wrapping of the forms in this case. THEREFORE, and the Contracting Officer's final decision rejecting its claim in the amount of $5,661.59 is hereby AFFIRMED, and that portion of the appeal is DENIED. FURTHERMORE, the Board also finds and concludes that: (1) because the "PAPER" specification authorized the use of 20 pound stock for the blank forms, JCP O-61 is inapplicable, and there are no standards in the agreement for determining that the paper was nonconforming; (2) the contractual option which allowed the Contractor to select either 20 or 24 pound paper also shifted the risk of any performance problems because of roughness to the Respondent under the doctrine of "implied warranty of specifications;" (3) the "Warranty" clause gave the Contracting Officer the right to either direct the Appellant to correct the performance problem with the paper, or take a discount in the contract price, but he could not do both; and (4) thus, the Government's 5% reduction in the contract price has no legal basis. ACCORDINGLY, to this extent the Contracting Officer's final decision is REVERSED, the appeal is ALLOWED, and the Respondent is directed to refund $891.05 to the Contractor. It is so Ordered. September 16, 1997 STUART M. FOSS Administrative Judge _______________ 1 With the Appellant's Notice of Appeal was another document entitled "Election to Proceed Under Small Claims Procedure." The Small Claims (Expedited) Procedure requires a Board decision, wherever possible, within 120 days after the Board receives written notice of the appellant's election. See GPO Instruction 110.12, Subject: Board of Contract Appeals Rules of Practice and Procedure, dated September 17, 1984, Rule 12.1(a) (Board Rules). However, during the conference, the Appellant withdrew its request for processing the appeal as a small claims matter. See Report of Prehearing Telephone Conference, dated May 6, 1994, at 2, n. 1 (hereinafter RPTC). 2 The Contracting Officer's appeal file was assembled pursuant to Rule 4 of the Board's Rules of Practice and Procedure, and delivered to the Board on November 8, 1993. 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 contains six (6) documents, identified as Tabs A-F. Furthermore, based on the discussions at the prehearing conference held on April 26, 1994, the Board asked the parties to supply certain additional information. See RPTC, at 6-7. Thereafter, by letter dated May 24, 1994, the Appellant sent the following documents to the Board: (a) Counsel for the Appellant's file notes (hereinafter App. Exh. No. 1); (b) a copy of Counsel's letter to Steve Boortz, the DRPPO's Compliance Officer, dated July 12, 1993, including the Appellant's itemized costs for repacking the forms (hereinafter App. Exh. No. 2) (same as R4 File, Tab E); (c) a copy of Counsel's letter to Boortz, dated June 16, 1993 (hereinafter App. Exh. No. 3); (d) a copy of a letter from the Appellant to its Counsel, dated June 29, 1993, and signed by Jan W. Gallagher (hereinafter App. Exh. No. 4); and (e) a verified transcription of Gallagher's file notes concerning his telephone conversation with Boortz on April 6, 1993 (hereinafter App. Exh. No. 5). As for the Respondent, by Notice of Filing, dated May 23, 1994, GPO furnished the Board with: (a) a declaration from Contracting Officer Macdonald (hereinafter Macdonald Declaration); (b) a declaration from Compliance Officer Boortz (Boortz Declaration); and (c) a letter, dated May 20, 1994, from Wanda Williams, Chief, Administration Services Branch, Directorate of Support Services at the customer-agency, to Contracting Officer Macdonald (hereinafter Williams Letter). Subsequently, with their briefs both parties submitted further documentation: (a) the Appellant provided a copy of Jacket No. 675-993, Purchase Order M-7447, dated August 4, 1992 (hereinafter App. Exh. No. 6); and (b) the Respondent furnished a declaration from Sylvia S. Y. Subt, Chief, Paper and Physical Testing Division, Quality Control and Technical Department at GPO (hereinafter Subt Declaration). 3 When the contract was awarded, the name of the Appellant was "Professional Printing Center." See R4 File, Tab B. However, its name was changed to "Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc." by the time of the appeal. See R4 File, Tab A. In such cases, GPO's printing procurement regulation requires that the parties execute a simple change of name agreement. See Printing Procurement Regulation, GPO Publication 305.3 (Rev. 10-90), Chap. XII, Sec. 3, ¶ 3 (PPR). The Board assumes that such an agreement is on file with the DRPPO. In any event, the Board's jurisdiction is certain because, despite the name change, there is no doubt but that the appeal was filed by the same entity with which the Government had contracted. See Plum Run, Inc. d/b/a Plum Run Corp., ASBCA Nos. 46091, 49203, 49207, 97-1 BCA ¶ 28,770; Adelaide Blomfield Management Co., GSBCA No. 13125, 95-2 BCA ¶ 27,865. 4 Whether or not the Contractor had produced the previous order of such forms is disputed in the record. Compare Williams Letter (a different contractor) with R4 File, Tab C (Memorandum from Jo Ann Schitzer, Chief, Contractual Services Section, Directorate of Support Services (DFAS), to John Louie, Printing Specialist, Defense Printing Service, Detachment Branch Office, Denver (March 1993 date illegible) (Schitzer Memorandum), and App. Exh. No. 6. In the Board's judgment, however, it is unnecessary to resolve that question in this decision. First, the two agreements are sufficiently different with respect to their paper and packing specifications so that the previous contract is irrelevant to the issues in this case; e.g., the previous contract does not contain a note requiring the paper ordered to run on any particular brand name equipment. See notes 6 and 7 infra. Besides, the parties' "prior course of dealings" is not involved in this appeal. Cf. Custom Printing Co., GPO BCA 28-94 (March 12, 1997), slip op. at 49-51, 1997 WL _____; Swanson Printing Co., GPO BCA 27-94 and 27A-94 (November 18, 1996), slip op. at 29-30, 1996 GPO LEXIS 38; Olympic Graphic Systems, GPO BCA 1-92 (September 13, 1996), slip op. at 32, 1996 WL 812957; MPE Business Forms, Inc., GPO BCA 10-95 (August 16, 1996), slip op. at 59, 1996 GPOBCA LEXIS 31; Publishers Choice Book Manufacturing Co., GPO BCA 4-84 (August 18, 1986), slip op. at 10-11, 1986 WL 181457. 5 See GPO Contract Terms, Solicitation Provisions, Supplemental Specifications, and Contract Clauses, GPO Publication 310.2, Effective December 1, 1987 (Rev. 9-88) (GPO Contract Terms). 6 This paper specification was a change from the previous order for these blank forms. In that regard, Jacket No. 675-993, Purchase Order M-7447, signed by Contracting Officer Macdonald, and issued on August 4, 1992, provides: "PAPER-COLOR AND KIND: White writing. JCP Code No.: D-10. Basis-500 sheets: 17" X 22" (size) and 20 pounds." See App. Exh. No. 6. 7 The following five check boxes under "Packing" were left blank: (a) "Wrap;" (b) "Shrink Film Pack;" (c) "Box; (d) "Suitable;" and (e) "in units of ___." See R4 File, Tab B. By contrast, the previous contract, while also specifying "suitable" packing per shipping container and requiring pallets, additionally provides "Shrink Film Pack . . . in units of 500." See App. Exh. Nos. 4 and 6. 8 GPO Contract Terms, Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program for Printing and Binding, GPO Publication 310.1, Effective May 1979 (Revised November 1989). 9 The DPS contacted the DRPPO because of a complaint by the DFAS (R4 File, Tab C, Schitzer Memorandum). In that regard, the customer-agency told the DPS that because it had experienced major running problems with the last batch of paper from the previous order, it had asked Bell & Howell to test the stock. Bell & Howell's report indicated that the paper had a basis weight of 18 pounds, which would have made it nonconforming (R4 File, Tab D, Bell & Howell Internal Memorandum, dated March 12, 1993 (Bell & Howell Memorandum). See also R4 File, Tab C (Memorandum from John Louie, Printing Specialist, Defense Printing Service, Detachment Branch Officer, Denver to Manger, DRPPO, dated March 29, 1993). Since the DFAS believed that the new paper had been supplied by the same contractor-the Appellan- it asked the DPS to have the paper retested to ensure that it was 20 pounds (R4 File, Tab C, Schitzer Memorandum). It should be noted that Bell & Howell also found the paper substandard with respect to porosity and stiffness, and suggested that 20 pound paper would eliminate those defects (R4 File, Tab D, Bell & Howell Memorandum). 10 It is obvious that the initials "FGA" in App. Exh. No. 5 stand for "Frederic (Fred) G. Antoun." 11 There is no explanation in the record for the 2 pound weight difference between the Government's tests and Bell & Howell's. See note 9 supra. On the other hand, the weight of the paper per se was not the problem according to GPO's inspectors, instead porosity and thickness or stiffness (or rather the lack of those qualities) was (R4 File, Tab D). See also Subt Declaration, ¶ 4 ("As the basis weight of paper increases and decreases, it has a direct effect on some technical qualities such as thickness and stiffness. However, the slight difference between 20 lb. and 24 lb. basis weight would have no effect on other qualities such as porosity and smoothness."). Furthermore, the record indicates that porosity and smoothness are paper characteristics which are not dependent on the weight of the stock. Id., ¶ 4. Thus, even if a contract requires paper that meets JCP O-61 standards, as here, the stock should be as smooth at 20 pounds as at 24 pounds. Id., ¶ 5. 12 According to Boortz, the Appellant was asked to "suggest an appropriate equitable price reduction" for the Government's acceptance of its nonconforming product. See Boortz Declaration, ¶ 7. 13 The breakdown of the Contractor's claim is as follows: (a) for the April 28, 1993, first "test" repack (148,000 sheets), Labor-$262.12; Materials-$48.10; Freight-$614.16, for a total of $924.38; and (b) for the June 30, 1993, second repack (1,440,000 sheets), Labor-$2,579.41; Materials-$457.80; Freight-$1,700.00, for a total of $4,737.21, giving a grand total of $5,661.59. See R4 File, Tab E; App. Exh. No. 2. 14 See note 7 supra. 15 Apart from the merits of the claim, the final decision letter also addressed a procedural matter raised by the Appellant, namely whether GPO had waived its right to insist on correction of the paper problem at no cost to the Government by waiting too long to use the forms; i.e., whether the warranty period had expired? See App. Exh. No. 5. In that regard, the contract's "Warranty" clause establishes a 120-day warranty period beginning from the date the final payment check is tendered. See GPO Contract Terms, Contract Clauses, ¶ 15(a). As mentioned previously, the Contractor delivered the forms, as required, on December 1, 1992 (R4 File, Tab B). There is nothing in the record to indicate either when the Appellant submitted its payment voucher or when the Respondent paid it. However, it is safe to say, based on the Board's experience in other cases, that DPS' complaint of March 29, 1993 (R4 File, Tab C), and the DRPPO's call to the Contractor regarding that complaint on April 6, 1993 (App. No. 5), occurred within the contract warranty period. Indeed, even if the Respondent had tendered final payment the day after delivery-a highly unlikely scenario-the warranty period would have lasted until March 31, 1993. The Appellant has not challenged the Contracting Officer's finding that the Government timely asserted its rights under the "Warranty" clause, and this record provides the Board with no reason to find otherwise. 16 At the prehearing conference on April 26, 1994, the Board identified the following three issues: (a) did the blank forms supplied by the Appellant conform in all respects to the contract specifications, and if not, was the 5[%] price reduction imposed by the Contracting Officer an appropriate exercise of his discretion; (b) was the "Packing" clause ambiguous, or, stated otherwise, should the Contractor have reasonably assumed that shrink wrapping was included in the instruction to "pack suitable per shipping container," even though the "Shrink Film Pack" box was not checked; and (c) is the Appellant entitled to additional compensation for repacking the blank forms with shrink wrap, either as a "constructive change" or under the theory of quantum meruit, and if so, what should be the amount of equitable relief? See RPTC, at 6. Those questions are subsumed in the two issues set forth above. 17 The Appellant also points to a prior contract-Purchase Order M-7447, Jacket No. 675-993-in which GPO ordered the forms shrink- wrapped by checking the appropriate boxes, as proof that the Government's failure to do so in this case meant that shrink- wrapping was not required here. See App. Brf., at 4 (citing App. Exh. No. 6) . However, the Board has already indicated that the previous agreement is irrelevant to this dispute. See note 4 supra. 18 The Contractor also alleges that some unidentified employee of the DRPPO has said that "all future requisitions of this order will require shrink-wrapping," as evidence that the Government knows it made a drafting error. See App. Brf., at 4. Such a statement is clearly hearsay, which is defined as "a statement made by the out-of-court declarant which is offered into evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted." See Asa L. Shipman's Sons, Ltd., GPO BCA 06-95 (August 29, 1995), slip op. at 12, n. 16, 1995 WL 818784 (citing Taylor Air Systems, Inc., ASBCA No. 25526, 84-1 BCA ¶ 17,141, at 85,396; FED. R. EVID. 801), reconsid. denied, 1996 WL _____ (February 13, 1996). Generally, credible hearsay is admissible in administrative proceedings, including those of the Board. See Vanier Graphics, GPO BCA 12-92 (May 17, 1994), slip op. at 36, n. 29, 1994 WL 275102 (hearsay evidence is admissible in administrative proceedings provided it is relevant and material, and otherwise reliable, adequate, probative, and fundamentally fair. [Citations omitted.]). Accord Southwest Marine, Inc., DOTBCA No. 161, 93-3 BCA ¶ 226,168; Rocky Mountain Trading Co., GSBCA No. 8671-P, 87-1 BCA ¶ 19,406; Johnson & Son Erector Co., ASBCA No. 23689, 86-2 BCA ¶ 18,931; Hof Construction, Inc., GSBCA No. 7012, 84-1 BCA ¶ 17,009. However, setting aside the fact that the employee who spoke is unknown, the statement is the "rankest sort of hearsay," more in the nature of a prediction or speculation, and therefore, entitled to no credence whatsoever. See Asa L. Shipman's Sons, Ltd., supra, slip op. at 12, n. 16 (citing Amdahl Corp. v. Department of Health and Human Services, GSBCA No. 11998-P, 93-2 BCA ¶ 25,612, at 127,488). 19 During the prehearing conference, Antoun stated his belief that the "PACKING" specification was left ambiguous on purpose, because the precise type of "suitable"packing depended upon several unknown factors, including whether the blank forms were to be used immediately, or were to be kept in storage for an indefinite time, perhaps even beyond the 120-day warranty period. See RPTC, at 5. The thrust of his contention was that the DRPPO intentionally used fuzzy language as an "insurance policy" just in case extended storage of the paper caused changes affecting its running properties. Antoun's claim is not only pure speculation, but his assertion is tantamount to an accusation that the Government was guilty of bad faith in drafting its specifications. See Hurt's Printing Co., Inc., GPO BCA 27-92 (January 21, 1994), slip op. at 11, n. 15, 1994 WL 275098 (allegation that the Government purposely wrote the specifications to give the previous contractor unfair advantage in the bidding process). As the Board has said on numerous occasions, an allegation of bad faith must be established by "well-nigh irrefragable proof" because there is a strong presumption that Government officials properly and honestly carry out their functions. See e.g., Rose Printing, Inc., GPO BCA 32-95 (December 16, 1996) slip op. at 25, 1996 GPOBCA LEXIS 34; Big Red Enterprises, GPO BCA 07-93 (August 10, 1996), slip op. at 36-37, 1996 GPOBCA LEXIS 26; MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 27-28, n. 34; New South Press & Assoc., Inc., GPO BCA 14-92 (January 31, 1996), slip op. at 36, 1996 WL 112555; Asa L. Shipman's Sons, Ltd., supra, slip op. at 12, n. 16; Universal Printing Co., GPO BCA 9-90 (June 22, 1994), slip op. at 24, n. 24, 1994 WL 377586; Hurt's Printing Co., Inc., supra, slip op. at 11, n. 15; B. P. Printing and Office Supplies, GPO BCA 14-91 (August 10, 1992), slip op. at 16, 1992 WL 382917; Stephenson, Inc., GPO BCA 2-88 (December 20, 1991), slip op. at 54, 1991 WL 439274; The Standard Register Co., GPO BCA 4-86 (October 28, 1987), slip op. at 12-13, 1987 WL 228972. Accord Claude R. Smith v. United States, 34 Fed. Cl. 313, 321-22 (1995); Brill Brothers, Inc., ASBCA No. 42573, 94-1 BCA ¶ 26,352; Karpak Data and Design, IBCA No. 2944, 93-1 BCA ¶ 25,360; Local Contractors, Inc., ASBCA No. 37108, 92-1 BCA ¶ 24,491. "Irrefragable" proof simply means evidence which is incapable of being refuted; i.e., indisputable evidence. See Rose Printing, Inc., supra, slip op. at 25, n. 26; Stephenson, Inc., supra, slip op. at 54 (citing WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY 714 (3d coll. ed. 1988)). The key to such evidence is a showing of specific intent on the part of the Government to injure the contractor. See Rose Printing, Inc., supra, slip op. at 26; Big Red Enterprises, supra, slip op. at 37; MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 27-28, n. 34; New South Press & Assoc., Inc., supra, slip op. at 36, n. 52; Stephenson, Inc., supra, slip op. at 54. Accord Claude R. Smith v. United States, supra, 34 Fed. Cl. at 322; Kalvar Corp. v. United States, 211 Ct. Cl. 192, 199, 543 F.2d 1298, 1302 (1976), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 830, 98 S.Ct. 112, 54 L.Ed.2d. 89. In the Board's view, no such "irrefragable proof" of the Respondent's bad faith exists in this record. Certainly, there is absolutely no evidence which would show that GPO by itself, or in concert with the DFAS, specifically set out to harm the Appellant. See e.g., Rose Printing, Inc., supra, slip op. at 26; Big Red Enterprises, supra, slip op. at 37; Asa L. Shipman's Sons, Ltd., supra, slip op. at 12, n. 16; Hurt's Printing Co., Inc., supra, slip op. at 11, n. 15; Stephenson, Inc., supra, slip op. at 57. 20 The Appellant notes that nothing in the record indicates that the forms were defective when delivered, but rather the evidence shows that the product shipped to the DFAS only failed to run on the Bell & Howell inserter after it had been stored for four months. See App. Brf., at 4. However, it is also true that DFAS made no attempt to use the forms in question when the order was delivered, because it was still using forms from the previous order (R4 File, Tab C, Schitzer Memorandum). Indeed, the trigger for this dispute was the failure of the last batch of forms from the previous order to work on the Bell & Howell equipment, which prompted the customer agency's request to have the forms in question tested to ensure that the paper was the correct weight. Id. 21 The Respondent notes that a major purpose of this rule is to ensure that the integrity of the bidding system will not be compromised. See Respondent's Brief, dated June 22, 1994, at 3 (citing Ideal Restaurant Supply Co., VACAB No. 570, 67-1 BCA ¶ 6237) (Res. Brf.). 22 See also Macdonald Declaration, ¶ 7 ("From the Government's standpoint, the cause of the problem is immaterial, as it is the contractor's obligations to provide a product which will run on the equipment specified in the contract."). 23 GPO notes that it could have taken a maximum reduction of 23.4% under QATAP. See Res. Brf., at 6, n.1. 24 Accordingly to the Government, the smoothness requirements for JCP O-61 paper is 100 units. The Appellant's paper had an average smoothness of 137.5 units. See Res. Brf., at 6. 25 The forms in dispute, which were to be shipped in two installments, were prescription forms containing two main security features; i.e., sequential numbering and a "Void" pantograph which was supposed to appear when the form was reproduced on a copy machine. Although the contractor tested the copying quality of the first installment of forms prior to shipment with satisfactory results, the customer-agency complained that the "Void" pantograph would not reproduce on its copiers. When GPO's test of the forms also failed to produce the "Void" pantograph, the contracting officer rejected the shipment and required the contractor to reprint to order with a changed "drop out" pattern. After it had complied with the reprint request, the contractor sought an equitable adjustment for the first shipment. 26 It should be noted that one way in which this appeal differs from the parties' former dispute is that here the contract specified the types of equipment which the forms were to be used on, while in the other case GPO had failed to identify which brands of photocopiers would be used to reproduce the forms in question. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 75. 27 In effect, the doctrine of "implied warranty of specifications" modifies two other black letter principles. The first, which the Respondent relies on, is that the Government is entitled to strict compliance with its specifications. See e.g., Sterling Printing, Inc., GPO BCA 20-89 (March 28, 1994), slip op. at 26, 1994 WL 275104, reconsid. denied, 1994 WL 377592 (July 5, 1994); Shepard Printing, GPO BCA 23-92 (April 29, 1993), slip op. at 19, 1993 WL 526848; International Lithographing, supra, slip op. at 20; Rose Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 6; Fry Communications, Inc., supra, slip op. at 5; Mid-America Business Forms Corp., supra, slip op. at 18; Dependable Printing Co., Inc., supra, slip op. at 23-24. See also Mega Construction Co., Inc. v. United States, 25 Cl. Ct. 735, 741; Wholesale Tire and Supply Co., Ltd., ASBCA No. 42502, 92-2 BCA ¶ 24,960. The second is that a contractor who enters a firm fixed-price contract with the Government, bears the risk of increased performance costs, absent facts or a clause allowing otherwise. See e.g., New South Press, GPO BCA 45-92 (November 4, 1994), slip op. at 14, 1994 WL 837425; Web Business Forms, Inc., GPO BCA 16-89 (September 30, 1994), slip op. at 23, 1994 WL 837423. Accord Kilgore Corp., ASBCA No. 31899, 90-3 BCA ¶ 23,226, at 116,560-61; DK's Precision Machining and Manufacturing, ASBCA No. 39616, 90-2 BCA ¶ 22,830; Chevron U.S.A., Inc., ASBCA No. 32323, 90-1 BCA ¶ 22,602; Nedlog Co., ASBCA No. 26034, 82-1 BCA ¶ 15,519. It should be noted that at one time the "strict compliance" rule was considered absolute in supply contracts. See Cherry Meat Packers, Inc., supra; Melrose Packaging Corp., ASBCA No. 9045, 1963 BCA ¶ 3769). However, in 1966 the Court of Claims created a limited exception to this principle for situations where a contractor timely shipped nonconforming goods which deviated from the specifications in only minor respects. The so-called "substantial compliance" rule affords defaulting contractors a reasonable opportunity to correct minor defects in shipments to the Government. See Radiation Technology, Inc. v. United States, 177 Ct. Cl. 227, 366 F.2d 1003, 1005-06 (1966). The Radiation Technology doctrine is clearly an encroachment on the Government's right to terminate. However, it is also apparent that the rule merely stays that right for a reasonable period, and does not affect the Government's right to insist on totally conforming goods; i.e., the doctrine concerns time, not the supplies themselves. See Shepard Printing, supra, slip op. at 20, n. 25; Stephenson, Inc., supra, slip op. at 50-51, n. 54. 28 The Board has also observed that specifications serve the purpose of eliciting and defining the essential qualities necessary in the procured product, and that the Government has a right to get exactly what it asked for in the solicitation. See Automated Datatron, Inc., GPO BCA 25-87 and 26-87 (April 12, 1989), slip op. at 3, 1989 WL 384974 (citing Nichols & Co. v. United States, 156 Ct. Cl. 358 (1962), cert. denied, 371 U.S. 959 (1963); Rohr Industries, Inc., ENG BCA No. 4058, 82-1 BCA ¶ 15,732). 29 By contrast, where the Government insists on strict enforcement of the specifications, it must prove that the product does not meet the requirements of the contract; i.e., it bears the initial "burden of persuasion" of showing that the rejected work does, in fact, deviate from the specifications. See Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. 72, n. 63; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 64; McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., GPO BCA 06-91 (May 6, 1994), slip op. at 23-24, 1994 WL 377581; International Lithographing, supra, slip op. at 20; Stabbe Senter Press, GPO BCA 13-85 and 19-85 (May 12, 1989), slip op. at 49, 1989 WL 384977; Mid-America Business Forms Corp., supra, slip op. at 18-19. Accord ABM/Ansley Business Materials, GSBCA No. 9367, 93-1 BCA ¶ 25,246; Goal Chemical Sealants Corp., GSBCA Nos. 8627, 8628, 88-3 BCA ¶ 21,083; Churchill Chemical Corp., GSBCA Nos. 4321, 4322, 4346, 4353, 77-1 BCA ¶ 12,318, at 59,5000, aff'd, Churchill Chemical Corp. v. United States, 221 Ct. Cl. 284, 602 F.2d 358 (1979); Ramar Co., ASBCA No. 16060, 72-2 BCA ¶ 9644; Pams Products, Inc., ASBCA No. 15847, 72-1 BCA ¶ 9401; Hardeman- Monier-Hutcherson, ASBCA No. 11785, 67-1 BCA ¶ 6210. The Government usually meets this burden by advising the contractor of the results of the inspection it has conducted. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 65; McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., supra, slip op. at 24; Stabbe Senter Press, supra, slip op. at 49. The burden then shifts to the contractor to prove the Government's findings are invalid for one reason or another. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 65; McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., supra, slip op. at 24; Stabbe Senter Press, supra, slip op. at 49; International Lithographing, supra, slip op. at 21. Accord Nuclear Research Corp. v. United States, 814 F.2d 647, 650 (Fed. Cir. 1987); Riverport Industries, Inc., ASBCA Nos. 28089, 28090, 28091, 29577, 86-2 BCA ¶ 18,835, reconsid. den., 86-3 BCA ¶ 19,050; Continental Chemical Corp.,, GSBCA No. 4483, 76-2 BCA ¶ 11,948; Shamrock Industrial Maintenance, DOT CAB No. 72-11, 72-2 BCA ¶ 9482; C.W. Roen Construction Co., DOT CAB No. 75-43, 76-2 BCA ¶ 12,215. Otherwise, the presumption that the Government's tests are conducted correctly will prevail. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 66. Accord Astro Science Corp. v. United States, 200 Ct. Cl. 354, 471 F.2d 624 (1973); Integrated Systems Group, Inc., GSBCA No. 11602-P, 92-1 BCA ¶ 24,762; Donald R. Stewart & Associates, AGBCA Nos. 84-226-1, 84-227-1, 84-228-1, 84-239-1, 84-240-1, 84-241-1, 85-168-1, 89-222-1, 89-223-1, 89-224-1, 89-225-1, 92-1 BCA ¶ 24,705; Goal Chemical Sealants Corp., supra; Horn Waterproofing Corp., DOT CAB No. 73-24, 74-2 BCA ¶ 10,933. On the other hand, if the contractor comes forward with evidence that casts doubt on the Government's test results, or somehow dilutes or neutralizes their impact, and the Government presents no additional evidence in support of its findings, then the so-called "validity" issue will be decided against it. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 79-80 (citing Unlimited Supply Co., Inc., GSBCA No. 12371, 94-3 BCA ¶ 27,170, at 135,393; Praoil, S.r.L., ASBCA Nos. 41499, 44369, 94-2 BCA ¶ 26,840; Air-O-Plastik Corp., GSBCA 4802, 4870, 4925, 4965, 81-2 BCA ¶ 15,338; Communications, Ltd., ASBCA Nos. 23261, 80-1 BCA ¶ 14,368). Simply stated, the rule is: "[W]here there is proof of differing tests results and no additional evidence is presented, the issue of conformity with specification must be decided against the party having the burden of proof." See Praoil, S.r.L., supra, 94-2 BCA at 133,502 (citing Lisbon Contractors v. United States, 828 F.2d 759, 764-65 (Fed. Cir. 1987); Universal Steel Strapping Co., ASBCA No. 13686, 69-2 BCA ¶ 7799 at 36,212). 30 See note 19 supra. 31 The United States Claims Court has observed that: "[a] mere dispute over the terms does not constitute an ambiguity, and an interpretation which is merely possible is not necessarily reasonable." See Ceccanti, Inc. v. United States, supra, 6 Cl. Ct. at 528. An ambiguity must have two or more reasonable interpretations and the intent of the parties must not be determinable by the normal rules of interpretation. See McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., GPO BCA 25-92 (April 11, 1994), slip op. at 14, n. 12, 1994 WL 275093; R.C. Swanson Printing and Typesetting Co., GPO BCA 31-90 (February 6, 1992), slip op. at 42, 1992 WL 487874, aff'd, Civil Action No. 92-128C (Cl. Ct. October 2, 1992). See also International Business Investments, Inc. v. United States, 17 Cl. Ct. 122 (1989), aff'd, 895 F.2d 1421 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (contract terms are not rendered ambiguous by the mere fact that the parties disagree as to their meaning; there must be reasonable uncertainty of meaning); Perry & Wallis, Inc. v. United States, supra, 192 Ct. Cl. at 315, 427 F.2d at 725 (quoting Bishop Engineering Co. v. United States, 180 Ct. Cl. 411, 416 (1967)). Furthermore, a contractor claiming an ambiguity in drafting does not have to prove its interpretation is more reasonable than the Government-the test is whether or not the contractor's interpretation standing alone is reasonable. See George Bennett v. United States, 178 Ct. Cl. 61, 371 F.2d 859, 861 (1967) ("To prevail . . . it is not essential that [the contractor] demonstrate his position to be the only justifiable or reasonable one. a specification susceptible to more than one interpretation, found to be consistent with the contract's language and the parties' objectively ascertainable intentions becomes convincing proof of an ambiguity; the burden of that ambiguity falls solely upon the party who drew the specification." Citing Peter Kiewit Sons' Co., 109 Ct. Cl. 390, 74 F.Supp. 165 (1947)). 32 The seven key rules are: (a) two different interpretations of the same contract language raise the possibility that the specifications may be ambiguous; (b) contractual language is ambiguous if it will sustain more than one reasonable interpretation; (c) the courts and contract appeals boards place themselves in the shoes of a reasonably prudent contractor in analyzing disputed contract language, and give the words that meaning which a reasonably intelligent contractor acquainted with the circumstances surrounding the contract would ascribe to them; (d) a dispute over contract language is not resolved simply by a determination that an ambiguity exists-it is also necessary to decide whether the ambiguity is latent or patent; (e) a latent ambiguity exists where the disputed language, without more, admits of two different reasonable interpretations; (f) if the ambiguity is latent, the doctrine of contra proferentem applies and the disputed language will be construed against the drafter, provided the non-drafter can show that he/she relied on the alternative reasonable interpretation in submitting his/her bid; (g) a patent ambiguity exists if the contract language contains a gross discrepancy, an obvious error in drafting, or a glaring gap, as seen through the eyes of a "reasonable man" on an ad hoc basis; and (h) if the ambiguity is patent, the contractor has an affirmative obligation to ask the contracting officer to clarify the true meaning of the contract language before submitting its bid. See Fry Communications, Inc./InfoConversion Joint Venture v. United States, 22 Cl. Ct. 497, 503-04, 510 (1991); Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 30-32; MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 42-45; The George Marr Co., supra, slip op. at 41-43; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 47-49; Webb Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 17-19; McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., supra, slip op. at 13-14; R.C. Swanson Printing and Typesetting Co., supra, slip op. at 41, n. 22; General Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 16-18. See also Fruin- Colon Corp. v. United States, 912 F.2d 1426, 1430 (Fed. Cir. 1990); Lear Siegler Management Services Corp. v. United States, 867 F.2d 600, 603 (Fed. Cir. 1989); Edward R. Marden Corp. v. United States, 803 F.2d 701, 705 (Fed. Cir. 1986); Neal & Co. v. United States, supra, 19 Cl. Ct. at 471. (1990); Salem Engineering and Construction Corp. v. United States, 2 Cl. Ct. 803, 806 (1983); Enrico Roman, Inc. v. United States, 2 Cl. Ct. 104, 106 (1983); Newsom v. United States, 230 Ct. Cl. 301, 303, 676 F.2d 647 (1982); S.O.G. of Arkansas v. United States, 212 Ct. Cl. 125, 546 F.2d 367 (1976); William F. Klingensmith, Inc. v. United States, 205 Ct. Cl. 651, 657 (1974); Norcoast Constructors, Inc. v. United States, 196 Ct. Cl. 1, 9, 448 F.2d 1400, 1404 (1971); Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. v. United States, 195 Ct. Cl. 21, 30, 444 F.2d 547, 551 (1971); Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. v. United States, 183 Ct. Cl. 358, 372 (1968); Max Drill, Inc. v. United States, 192 Ct. Cl. 608, 626, 427 F.2d 1233 (1967); WPC Enterprises, Inc. v. United States, 163 Ct. Cl. 1, 6, 323 F.2d 874 (1963). 33 The purpose of any rule of contract interpretation is to carry out the intent of the parties. See Hegeman-Harris & Co., 194 Ct. Cl. 574, 440 F.2d 1009 (1971). The test for ascertaining intent is an objective one; i.e., the question is what would a reasonable contractor have understood, not what did the drafter subjectively intend. See Corbetta Construction Co. v. United States, 198 Ct. Cl. 712, 461 F.2d 1330 (1972). See also Salem Engineering and Construction Corp. v. United States, supra, 2 Cl. Ct. at 806. The provisions of the contract itself should provide the evidence of the objective intent of the parties. 34 The dictionary defines "suitable" as something "that suits a given purpose, occasion, condition, propriety, etc., fitting, appropriate, apt." See WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY 1339 (3d coll. ed. 1988). This is essential the same meaning of the word applied by the Board when dealing with questions concerning the suitability of Government-furnished material; i.e., was the material appropriate for use in producing the end items called for in the contract. See e.g., Braceland Brothers, Inc., GPO BCA 01-93 (August 8, 1997), slip op. at 26, 1997 WL _____; A & E Copy Center, GPO BCA 38-92 (September 25, 1996), slip op. at 22, 1996 WL 812881; Web Business Forms, GPO BCA 31-89 (July 22, 1994), slip op. at 13-14, 1995 WL 488523; Printing Unlimited, GPO BCA 21-90 (November 30, 1993), slip op. at 18, 1993 WL 516844. 35 Unicom Systems, Inc. involved a contract calling for standard packaging of procured items which required cushioning of items shipped but did not require separate packaging of individual components. After award, the Government issued a unilateral modification requiring packaging of individual components, which was a costlier method, and argued that no price adjustment was required because the parties had allegedly agreed to individual packaging. However, the ASBCA held that the contract provision was clear and unambiguous, and was not the result of a mutual mistake so as to permit reformation. See Unicom Systems, Inc., supra, 84-3 BCA at 88,163. Furthermore, applying the "parol evidence" rule, the ASBCA determined that since the contractor had not made any misrepresentation to induce the Government's assent to the disputed contract provision, the specification discharged any prior alleged agreement with respect to the more expensive method of packaging because it was intended as a complete and exclusive statement of the parties' agreement. Id., 84-3 BCA at 88,162-63. In rejecting the Government's argument predicated on the "strict compliance" doctrine, the ASBCA explained, in pertinent part, that: "Although Unicom questioned the suitability of commercial packaging for the eventual overseas shipments indicated by the solicitation documents and, therefore, initially proposed to "over-pack" the system, the contract as awarded required only commercial packaging in accordance with MIL-STD-1188A and made no provision for extra protection of the system or its associated components in contemplation of shipment to the ultimate overseas destination. . . . To now allow the Government to require a more expensive method of packaging at no extra cost would deprive appellant of the benefit of its bargain and leave appellant in a less favorable position than if the contract had not been changed. Cf. N.G. Adair, Inc., ASBCA No. 25961, 83-2 BCA ¶ 16,887 (advertised contract)." Id., 84-3 BCA at 88,163. 36 Indeed, even if the Board had found that the "PACKING" specification was ambiguous, it also would have concluded that the ambiguity was patent, not latent, which would have required the Appellant to seek a clarification from the Contacting Officer. See Fry Communications, Inc./InfoConversion Joint Venture v. United States, supra, 22 Cl. Ct. at 504, 510 (1991); MPE Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 64-65; The George Marr Co., supra, slip op. at 42-43, n. 34; Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 48-49, n. 65; Webb Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 19; General Business Forms, Inc., supra, slip op. at 17. Accord Enrico Roman, Inc. v. United States, supra, 2 Cl. Ct. at 106; Newsom v. United States, supra, 230 Ct. Cl. at 303; S.O.G. of Arkansas v. United States, supra, 212 Ct. Cl. at 131; Max Drill, Inc. v. United States, supra, 192 Ct. Cl. at 626; WPC Enterprises, Inc. v. United States, supra, 163 Ct. Cl. at 6. 37 These two contract mechanisms, essentially operate independently of each other, and neither reduces any rights under the other by which GPO can avoid the finality of acceptance. The Respondent's burden of proof differs depending on whether it seeks to recover under the "Warranty" clause or for alleged latent defects under the "Inspections and Tests" clause. Under the "Warranty" clause, the Government must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that: (a) the defective material, workmanship, or nonconformance with the specifications was the most probable cause of the insulator failures when considered with any other possible clauses; and (b) it did not cause or contribute to the failures or the defects. See ABM/Ansley Business Materials, supra, 93-1 BCA at 125,748; Joseph Penner, GSBCA No. 4647, 80-2 BCA ¶ 14,604, at 72,019. It is not necessary for GPO to show precisely what acts or omissions by the Appellant caused the defects. On the other hand, a "latent defect" claim is much broader and can cover defects that arose both in the warranty period and afterward (post-warranty). However, to sustain such a claim, the Respondent must prove a definite nexus between the defect and the product failure; i.e., it is not enough for the Government simply to allege an array of possible defects or even to establish the existence of a defect in the hope that something will stick. Merely because post- acceptance failures occurred does not mean that defects existed at the time of acceptance. See ABM/Ansley Business Materials, supra, 93-1 BCA at 125,749-50. In other words, an item that fails to function cannot be said to be ipso facto latently defective-proof of the defect that caused the failure must be direct and not left to inference. Failure alone is not proof of a nonconformity or defect, much less a latent defect. See Bart Associates, Inc., EBCA Nos. C-9211144, C-9312163, 96-2 BCA ¶ 28,479, at 142,235. 38 While the Government's argument is clear enough, its record evidence on this issue somewhat confusing. Thus, the GPO analyst who performed the paper test admittedly based her roughness findings for 20 pound paper on a standard derived from the JCP O-61 specification (R4 File, Tab D, QCTD Report). On the other hand, the subsequent declaration of the Chief, Paper and Physical Testing Division, QCTD, implies that JCP O-61 itself could still be used to evaluate the smoothness of 20 pound paper. See note 11 supra (Subt Declaration, ¶ 4). However, the Board notes that while Subt is critical of the extrapolation technique employed by the analyst, calling it "misleading," id., the record shows that on April 16, 1993, she endorsed the test report ( (R4 File, Tab D, QCTD Report). 39 In printing, smoothness is more important for letterpress and gravure but has little effect on offset, and the major impact of this paper quality is that as smoothness decreases, solids and halftones get sandy and rough in appearance. See POCKET PAL, at 166. 40 Runnability means nothing more than "the ability to get the paper through the press." See POCKET PAL, at 164. It is interesting to note that one factor which can affect runnability is the equilibrium moisture content or RH in the pressroom. Id. Depending on whether the moisture content is too high or too low, paper can develop wavy edges, or tight edges, either of which can cause wrinkles and/or misregister in printing, especially in offset. Id. 41 This is not to say that a subjective evaluation is suspect per se. The law also recognizes that there is always an element of subjectivity in the appraisal of any product, and boards of contract appeals will sustain the subjective findings of an inspector or contracting officer as long as the test method used is reasonable. See Interstate Reforesters, Dale Whitley, AGBCA No. 87-374-3, 89-1 BCA ¶ 21,375. In that regard, any test which conforms to generally accepted industry practice is usually considered reasonable. See M.J.W. Enterprises, ENGBCA No. 5813, 93-1 BCA ¶ 25,405; DiCecco, Inc., ASBCA No. 11994, 69-2 BCA ¶ 7821. Furthermore, the law allows the application of subjective standards to enforce contract specifications expressing a requirement in absolute or imprecise language because such terms are not suited for application of the strict compliance doctrine- absolute requirements especially cannot be literally attained. See Mid-American Engineering and Manufacturing, ASBCA No. 20939, 78-1 BCA ¶ 12,870; Canon Construction, Inc., GSBCA No. 11227, 92-2 BCA ¶ 25,001; Bonny Products, Inc., GSBCA No. 4577, 76-2 BCA ¶ 12,158; Dirigo Compass & Instrument Co., ASBCA No. 9162, 65-2 BCA ¶ 4938. Moreover, Board precedent recognizes that just because a judgment is subjective it is not necessarily it invalid, since the qualifications of the person making the evaluation is relevant and must always be taken into consideration. See Fry Communications, Inc., GPO BCA 22-84 (February 20, 1986), slip op. at 17-18, 1986 WL 181462. Accord Interstate Reforesters, Dale Whitley, supra. Where a contractor challenges the results of an inspection on the ground that the test was subjective, the main focus of the Board's inquiry is on whether or not the evaluator applied the appropriate or correct standards, not whether his judgment was right or wrong. See Fry Communications, Inc., supra, slip op. at 18-20. 42 The Board was created by the Public Printer in 1984. See GPO Instruction 110.10C, Subject: Establishment of the Board of Contract Appeals, dated September 17, 1984. Before then, ad hoc panels considered disputes between contractors and GPO. Elgin Business Forms and Electronic Composition, Inc. are ad hoc panel cases. The Board cites the decisions of these ad hoc boards as GPOCAB. While the Board is not bound by ad hoc panel rulings, its policy is to follow them where applicable and appropriate. See e.g. Custom Printing Co., supra, slip op. at 24, n. 38; Big Red Enterprises, supra, slip op. at 22, n. 22; The George Marr Co., supra, slip op. at 50, n. 40; New South Press & Assoc., Inc., supra, slip op. at 32, n. 45; Shepard Printing, supra, slip op. at 14, n. 19; Stephenson, Inc., supra, slip op. at 18, n. 20; Chavis and Chavis Printing, GPO BCA 20-90 (February 6, 1991), slip op. at 9, n. 9, 1991 WL 439270. 43 The regulatory foundation for the Board's reasoning was the PPR, which it said establishes the basic framework for the inspection and testing of procured products. See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 66. In that regard, the Board said that: "[ a]part from providing the foundation for QATAP, and establishing the program as an integral part of most procurement contacts, the PPR also states that such inspection and testing 'shall be performed in accordance with article 14 'Inspection and Tests' of Contract Clauses in GPO Contract Terms (Pub. 310.2).' [Footnote omitted.] See, PPR, Chap. XIII, Sec. 1, ¶¶ 3(a),(b), 4(c)(2),(g). Furthermore, the PPR, inter alia: (1) provides guidance for gathering inspection samples; (2) sets forth basic inspection procedures; (3) makes special provisions for the inspection of departmental random copies (blue label copies); and (4) requires that appropriate records and documentation of all quality assurance actions be maintained. See, PPR, Chap. XIII, Sec. 1, ¶¶ 4(g)(1)-(4), h." See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 66-67. As the Board read the PPR, the various QATAP manuals incorporated by reference therein, and the "Inspections and Tests" article of GPO Contract Terms, it was clear that: ". . . the proper inspection and testing of procured products consists of three things: (1) a sample which is randomly selected and adequate enough to be representative of the lot; (2) the use of proper testing procedures and techniques; and (3) the presence of objective standards by which to measure the procured product. [Citations omitted.] . . . [a] contracting officer who shows that he has adhered to the testing and inspection requirements of the contract is entitled to have his determination of product quality upheld. [Citation omitted.]" See Professional Printing I, supra, slip op. at 67. [Emphasis added.] 44 The EBCA observed that the contract only required that the polymer insulators be equal to the porcelain insulators in terms of mechanical strength and electrical characteristics. In fact, the Government's tests showed that the polymer insulators were indeed equal to the porcelain insulators in those properties. Therefore, the EBCA stated that since the polymer insulators were equal, the contractor "had every right to assume that use of polymer insulators as specified would achieve the desired result." See Bart Associates, Inc., supra, 96-2 BCA at 142,235-4. 45 See note 15 supra. 46 Even though the Contracting Officer improperly applied the remedy provisions of the "Warranty" clause in this case, the Board finds no basis for holding that he also abused his discretion. He clearly misread the "Warranty" clause, but his action, while erroneous, cannot be said to be so unreasonable as to warrant an abuse of discretion finding. See Questar Printing, Inc., GPO BCA 19-94 (June 12, 1997), slip op. at 73-74, n. 76, 1997 WL _____ (misapplication of the procedural requirements of the "Default" clause). Moreover, the Board cannot emphasize too strongly that an abuse of discretion finding is not to be taken as a personal criticism of the contracting officer. As the Board pointed out in Questar Printing, Inc., "[w]hile it is customary to speak in terms of a contracting officer's abuse of discretion, in reality the abuse of discretion is committed by the contracting agency because the authority to terminate is vested in 'the Government,' rather than the 'Contracting Officer,' per se." Id. (citing PLB Grain Storage Corp., AGBCA Nos. 89-152-1, 89-153-1, 89-154-1, 91-205-1, 92-1 BCA ¶ 24,731; Sol O. Schlesinger, dba Ideal Uniform Cap Co. v. United States, 182 Ct. Cl. 571, 390 F.2d 702 (1968)).