U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS WASHINGTON, D.C. 20401 In the Matter of ) the Appeal of ) ) FRY COMMUNICATIONS, INC. ) Docket No. GPOBCA 30-94 Program C219-S ) Purchase Order 93674 ) Print Order 80024 ) For the Appellant: Fry Communications, Inc., 800 West Church Road, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, by Jerry Rhinehart, Appellant's representative. For the Government: Kerry L. Miller, Esq., Associate General Counsel, U.S. Government Printing Office. Before BERGER, Ad Hoc Chairman. DECISION AND ORDER Fry Communications, Inc. (Appellant), 800 West Church Road, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, by letter dated September 6, 1994, timely appealed the August 26, 1994, final decision of Contracting Officer Jack Scott of the U.S. Government Printing Office (Respondent or GPO), affirming a 25 percent reduction in the contract price for Print Order 80024, issued under the Appellant's Program C219-S contract, Purchase Order 93674. For the reasons which follow, the Contracting Officer's decision is AFFIRMED and the appeal is DENIED. I. BACKGROUND 1. On or about May 24, 1993, the Appellant was awarded a requirements contract for the printing of certain Department of Energy (DOE) publications. Specific work under the contract was to be ordered through the issuance of print orders. 2. On March 10, 1994, Print Order 80024 was issued for the printing of 30,000 copies of DOE's 1994 Education Programs Catalog. The Print Order required four-color process printing for the cover of the Catalog; the cover otherwise was to be printed in a green ink identified as PMS 3286C.1 3. When issuing the Print Order, DOE sent to the Appellant certain Government-furnished property that included a disk, board art, a photograph, and a laser print of the Catalog cover showing both the green background color and the four other required colors. Hearing Transcript (HT) 40-42 2; Gov't Exh. No. 1. 4. The Print Order specified that the Appellant was to provide one set of blueline proofs and also to "[p]rovide cromalin proof of cover." Rule 4 File, Tab D.3 The "Proofs" clause of the contract specifications required the Appellant to furnish various kinds of proofs, including, "[w]hen ordered . . . one-piece laminated (cromalin or equal) or electrophotography color proofs of four-color process pages. . . . The proofs should have color control bars, tint patches and dot gain scale . . . ." The clause also stated that the contractor "must not print prior to receipt of an 'OK to print,'" which normally would be "a notation on the proofs returned." Rule 4 File, Tab A. 5. Sometime after commencing work in response to the Print Order the Appellant sent proofs to DOE, HT 14, 46-49, 52-53, accompanied by a form captioned "Customer Proof Instructions." HT 53; Rule 4 File, Tab G. This form was completed ("Approved as corrected") and signed by a DOE senior printing specialist and returned, along with the proofs, to the Appellant.4 HT 58-60. 6. Thereafter, the Appellant printed and delivered the catalogs. The Appellant, however, did not use four-color processing on the cover; the cover was printed entirely in the specified green ink. Gov't Exh. No. 4. 7. The Appellant subsequently admitted that it had overlooked the Print Order requirement for printing, HT 13, 30; Complaint,5 but disclaimed any responsibility for reprinting and refused to agree to a price reduction because it had received an "OK to print." Rule 4 File, Tabs I, L. 8. On August 8, 1994, the Contracting Officer, with the concurrence of the Respondent's Contract Review Board, issued a contract modification reducing the Appellant's invoice billing price of $62,430.49 by 25 percent, or $15,607.63. The Contracting Officer's subsequent final decision denying the Appellant's "exception" to the price reduction is the basis for this appeal. II. DISCUSSION It is undisputed that the Appellant did not furnish a product that complied with the four-color process printing requirement of the Print Order. Thus, the primary question presented by this appeal is whether the DOE printing specialist's approval and signature on the Appellant's "Customer Proof Instructions" form was tantamount to a change in the specifications that authorized the Appellant to print the catalogs without regard to the four- color process printing requirement. The heart of the dispute concerns exactly what the Appellant furnished to DOE in the way of proofs. The Appellant asserts that it furnished two kinds of proofs: bluelines, Gov't Exh. No. 2, and a "match print," App. Exh. No. 2, HT 14, which it says is a laminated proof that is equal to or the same thing as a cromalin proof. HT 73, 78, 80, 82. It further asserts that both were returned to it with the "OK to print" authorization, HT 84, without any indication of a correction needed to the cover, HT 91, and that this gave it the right to proceed with the final printing job in accordance with the approved proofs. The Respondent's position is that DOE never received a cromalin proof, never received the match print, and never approved anything with respect to color. HT 53, 59, 75-77; Respondent's Brief 6 at 10-11. In this regard, the DOE printing specialist testified that when she received the proof package from the Appellant and saw that it contained only blueline proofs, she expected the cromalin proof to arrive later because there was still "plenty of time" before the delivery schedule date, in her experience printers sometimes send bluelines and cromalins separately, and the Appellant might have been sending bluelines for the text and a cromalin for the cover later "since it was a four-color process." HT 59-60, 76. She further testified that her signature and approval on the Appellant's Customer Proof Instructions form went only to the bluelines that she saw and that were identified on the Customer Proof Instructions form,7 and not to the cromalin that she was still expecting to receive, HT 59, 69-70, but that "the next thing that happened was the job actually arrived way ahead of schedule." HT 60. The Appellant cannot prevail here. First, as a matter of law, the DOE printing specialist's approval of whatever proofs she saw could not have had the effect of changing the specifications. Approval of pre-production proofs and "OK to print" authorizations are not intended to be vehicles for making changes to specifications; rather, they are related to quality assurance concerns, and in effect set "the standard by which the quality of performance will be measured." The George Marr Co., GPOBCA 31-94 (April 23, 1996), slip op. at 45, 1996 WL 273662. Under the contract, if a specification is to be changed, it is to be done through a written change order under the "Changes" clause, which allows the contracting officer to make unilateral changes, within the general scope of the contract, to drawings, designs, and specifications. GPO Contract Terms, Solicitation Provisions, Supplemental Specifications, and Contract Clauses, GPO Pub. 310.2, effective December 1, 1987 (Rev. 9-88), Contract Clauses, ¶ 4. Although there are circumstances where a formal change order is not issued but the Government will be held to have constructively changed the specifications, see News Printing Co., Inc., GPOBCA 13-94 (February 20, 1998), slip op. at 14, 1998 WL ______ (constructive change resulted from issuance of print order), or to be estopped from insisting on adherence to the original specification requirements, see Automated Datatron, Inc., GPOBCA 25-87 (April 12, 1989), slip op., 1989 WL 384974, the act or acts giving rise to the constructive change or the estoppel must be those of someone with actual or implied authority to make a change to the contract. News Printing Co., Inc., supra, at 8; Automated Datatron, Inc., supra, at 8. GPO's customer agencies have the authority to issue binding print orders under "direct- deal" contracts and to transmit copy and proofs, Handbook, Sec. IV, ¶ 2; all other authority, however, remains with the GPO contracting officer. Id. That means customer agency personnel have no authority to change contract specifications or the print orders themselves, once issued. News Printing Co., Inc., supra, at 13; United Computer Supplies, Joint Venture, GPOBCA 26-94 (January 23, 1998), slip op. at 3, 1998 WL ______; Swanson Printing Co., GPOBCA 27-94 and 27-94A (November 18, 1996), slip op. at 4, n.9, 34, 1996 WL 812958, and cases cited therein. Thus, regardless of what proofs were approved by DOE's printing specialist, since the specialist had no authority to change the Print Order, the approval could not have had the effect of changing the Print Order's printing requirement or estopping the Respondent from enforcing that requirement. See United Computer Supplies, Joint Venture, supra, at 16, 18. Second, the Board finds unpersuasive the Appellant's position that it furnished a cromalin or equal proof and received an "OK to print" on the basis of furnishing such a proof. The parties do not agree on whether the Appellant actually furnished the laminated match print claimed to be the cromalin equal. The DOE printing specialist denies having seen it, and two other DOE employees who saw the Appellant's proofs, in declarations accompanying Respondent's Brief, also assert that only bluelines were submitted, while the Appellant's customer service employee who handled this order testified that she not only sent the match print to DOE but also received it back along with the bluelines and Customer Proof Instructions form. She further testified that she remembered the match print being returned because the picture on the cover featured the image of a young girl who resembled the daughter of a coworker who asked if she could have the proof for that reason. HT 84. The Board notes, as it did during the hearing, that the blueline of the cover and the match print are both in blue and are essentially the same except for the glossy finish of the match print. HT 82. Thus, it is entirely possible that the match print was in the package sent to DOE and simply not recognized for what it was intended to be. On the other hand, it is also possible that what the Appellant's witness's coworker saw was the blueline and not the match print since the picture on both the blueline and the match print is the same. The Board does not find it necessary to resolve this factual dispute, however, because even if it assumes that the match print in fact was sent to and received and returned by DOE, the Board does not view the match print as the equivalent to the proof required by the contract. The Print Order required the Appellant to submit two types of proofs: bluelines, and a cromalin.8 The DOE printing specialist testified that bluelines are used for positioning and to ensure that the pictures (there were more than 130 in the Catalog) and their captions matched, HT 55, while the cromalin is used as a "proofing mechanism when you are doing four-color process printing," HT 54, enabling the agency to tell "whether the four- color process was indeed done" and also to reflect "the background PMS." HT 56. The Appellant admits that had it not overlooked the requirement for printing, on the match print it prepared there "would have been a four-color picture in the center . . . instead of being in blue," and that the blueline "would have had a four-slice seal on the photograph stating that that was four-color . . . ." HT 83. The Appellant explains that since it overlooked the four-color requirement, it prepared the match print in response to the requirement of which it was aware, the PMS 3268 ink color. However, it further explains that the match print was in blue, instead of the green color corresponding to PMS 3268, because, given the multitude of PMS colors, the blue was "as close as we could come to the green" when making a match print. HT 81. Thus, what the Appellant claims to have furnished to satisfy the cromalin or equal requirement showed neither the four-color process nor the specified PMS ink color. The Appellant's witness testified that the purpose of a cromalin or match print is to "show the clarity of a material that is being printed, registration, position," HT 86-87, but denied that it is used to check color. HT 87, 88. That, of course, is not consistent with its admission that had it not overlooked the printing requirement the match print would have had a four-color picture in the center. It is also not consistent with the requirements of the Print Order which, by imposing a requirement for the cromalin proof as well as the bluelines, obviously sought something in the way of proofs that went beyond what the bluelines would show. In this connection, the Board noted during the hearing, without meaningful contradiction by the Appellant, that the match print essentially was a laminated copy of the Appellant's blueline. HT 83. It is not readily apparent how clarity, registration, and position are more clearly shown by the Appellant's match print than by the blueline. Moreover, given that bluelines do not show color, the Board has little doubt that the purpose of the cromalin or equal requirement was to ensure that the Respondent and its customer agency obtained appropriate color indicia9 from the Appellant before an "OK to print" was provided, regardless of whether it was imposed in connection with four-color process printing, as DOE's printing specialist believes, or, as the Appellant purports to have believed, solely in connection with the PMS ink color designations. Indeed, the "Proofs" clause requirement that the cromalin or equal proofs have "color control bars, tint patches and dot gain scale" leave little room for any other interpretation. In short, the Board does not view the Appellant's match print as the equal of what the contract required in the way of a cromalin or equal proof and on this record finds no basis for the Appellant to have reasonably believed that the match print could satisfy the requirement. Accordingly, the Appellant, having failed to furnish a required cromalin or equal proof, could not under the terms of its contract consider the printing specialist's approval of the bluelines to be the equivalent of an "OK to print." The Appellant therefore must bear the consequences of proceeding before obtaining proper authorization to do so. The George Marr Co., supra, at 54; McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., GPOBCA 25-92 (April 11, 1994), slip op. at 21-22, 1994 WL 275093. In light of the Appellant's failure to deliver a product conforming to the printing required, the Contracting Officer elected to discount by 25 percent the Appellant's invoice price. Rule 4 File, Tab K. The Contracting Officer testified that he arrived at that figure by applying the provisions of the Respondent's Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program (QATAP), HT 97, see GPO Contract Terms, Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program, GPO Pub. 310.1, effective May 1979 (revised December 1992) (hereafter QATAP Manual), which were incorporated into the contract by reference. Rule 4 File, Tab A. The Board has discussed the QATAP at length, see, e.g., Custom Printing Co., GPOBCA 28-94 (March 12, 1997), slip op., 1997 WL 128720; The George Marr Co., supra; Professional Printing of Kansas, Inc., GPOBCA 2-93 (May 19, 1995), slip op., 1995 WL 488488, and need not do so again here. Suffice it to say that the QATAP is a quality assurance program that provides for the use of objective measurements to determine whether printed products are defective and, if so, whether they should be rejected or whether the contract price should be discounted and by how much. Printing Procurement Regulation, Chap. XIII, Sec. 1, ¶ 3.a. The Contracting Officer testified that because the inside of the Catalog cover page described the cover page photograph in terms of the "different colors in the beakers of liquid that this girl is mixing," the absence of those colors from the Catalog printed by the Appellant was a "loss of information" because "[w]ithout the color it loses all its meaning." HT 98. The QATAP Manual identifies Finishing Attribute F-17 as "Loss of Information," defines it as "any omission of or damage to the printed image which impairs the transmission of the intended information," and describes it as a "Critical" defect. QATAP Manual 44. The Contracting Officer stated that 200 copies of the Catalog were sampled, that they all had this same defect, and that the discount table in the QATAP Manual provides for a 25 percent discount for a critical defect in those circumstances. HT 100-101.10 The Board finds the Contracting Officer's approach to be reasonable. While loss of information typically will involve missing words, see Stabbe Senter Press, GPOBCA 13-85 and 19-85 (May 12, 1989), slip op., 1989 WL 384977; International Lithographing, GPOCAB 15-84 (March 22, 1985), slip op., 1985 WL 154875, the absence of intended visual color images can also be an informational loss where the color is intended to convey some knowledge or understanding. Here that is clearly the case-the inside cover of the Catalog describes the cover photograph as "Red Drop, Green Drop, an introduction to the chemistry and physics of water " and goes on to identify a fifth grade student in a physical sciences study center. That statement is essentially meaningless in the absence of the appropriate colors in the photograph, and the photograph itself conveys considerably less when printed in the same background color as the remainder of the cover page than if it contained the distinct colors intended to represent the different liquids in the beakers in front of the student. The Board therefore finds no basis to disagree with the Contracting Officer's decision that the Appellant's printed product was defective under Attribute F-17. Since the Contracting Officer also correctly calculated the discount amount from the discount table in the QATAP Manual (Appendix A), the Board finds the 25 percent reduction to be reasonable. III. ORDER For the foregoing reasons, the Contracting Officer's final decision is AFFIRMED and the appeal is DENIED. It is so Ordered. March 30, 1998 Ronald Berger Ad Hoc Chairman GPO Board of Contract Appeals _______________ 1In this case that meant that a picture in the center of the cover was to be printed in various colors while the basic cover itself was to be in the specified green color. PMS refers to the Pantone Matching System, which is a system of inks, specifications, and color guides used for specifying and reproducing colors. 2 A hearing was held in this matter on March 28, 1995. The transcript of the hearing will hereafter be referred to as HT with appropriate page citations. Exhibits introduced into evidence at the hearing are identified as either App. Exh. or Gov't Exh. followed by the appropriate number. 3 The Contracting Officer's appeal file, assembled pursuant to Rule 4 of the Board's Rules of Practice and Procedure, was delivered to the Board on October 14, 1994. It will be referred to as the Rule 4 File, with an appropriate Tab letter also indicated. The Rule 4 File consists of 13 tabs identified as Tab A through Tab M. 4 These direct contacts between the Appellant and DOE reflected the fact that this was a "direct-deal" contract, under which customer agencies are authorized to issue print orders directly to a GPO contractor. HT 96; see GPO Agency Procedural Handbook, GPO Pub. 305.1 (rev. January 1992) (hereafter Handbook), Sec. IV. 5 The Board considers the Appellant's letter of October 12, 1994, as the Complaint in this case. 6 Although the parties were given an opportunity to file a post- hearing brief, HT 112-14, only the Respondent did so. 7 In a box captioned "Press Run" located at the top of the form there appears the handwritten notation "1 thru 12." Rule 4 File, Tab G. This appears to correspond to the bluelines which consist of the cover and the different sections of the Catalog which are marked R-2 through R-12. Gov't Exh. No. 2. 8 Although the Print Order referred only to a cromalin proof, the contract was less restrictive and allowed a cromalin or equal. The Respondent does not challenge the Appellant's right to submit a proof equal to a cromalin. 9 A review of prior cases of the Board and its predecessor panels (the decisions of which the Board cites as GPOCAB, see Rose Printing, Inc., GPOBCA 32-95 (December 16, 1996), slip op. at 27 n.28, 1996 WL 812880) indicates that a requirement for cromalin or equivalent proofs typically is imposed in connection with a color requirement, usually when four-color process printing is called for, and is used to evaluate color at the proof stage. See, e.g., Artisan Printing Inc., GPOBCA 15-93 (February 6, 1998), slip op., 1998 WL ______; The Wessell Co., Inc., GPOBCA 8-90 (February 28, 1992), slip op., 1992 WL 487877; Bay Printing, Inc., GPOBCA 16-85 (January 30, 1987), slip op., 1987 WL 228975; F.C.L. Graphics, Inc., GPOCAB 13-79 (January 25, 1980), slip op., 1980 WL 119661. 10 He further testified that he also considered the cover to be defective in terms of Printing Attribute P-9, Solid or Screen Tints Color Match. HT 101.