U.S. Government Printing Office Contract Appeals Board Lawrence W. Kennelly, Chairman James R. Wright, Member Morris J. Mervis, Member Panel 79-17 Appeal of Media Press Lithographers Jacket Nos. 667-095, 667-097, 667-098, 667-099, 667-100 December 28, 1979 This is an appeal filed on August 1, 1979, by Media Press Lithographers of P.O. Box 577, Dexter, Missouri, under the "Disputes" clause article 29, U.S. Government Printing Office Contract Terms No. 1, as revised July 15, 1970, which is an integral part of the contract between Media Press and the Government Printing Office (GPO) for the printing of forms. I. Statement of facts 1. An informal hearing was held on December 13, 1979, at the GPO. Appellant was represented by its President, Robert J. Diehl, and the contracting officer was represented by James C. Lane, Jr., Esq. of the GPO's General Counsel's Office. 2. Appellant was awarded a contract, Jacket Numbers 667-095, 667-097, 667-098, 667-099, 667-100, for the printing of five different sets of forms for the USDA Farmers Home Administration. 3. These five orders were accepted by the Appellant on May 8, 1979. The camera copy was received by the contractor on May 9, 1979. Delivery of all forms was made on June 14, 1979. The camera copy consisted of one piece of copy for the face, one piece of copy for the back and one sheet with the appropriate copy of the change lines for each order. 4. There was no evidence in the Rule 4 File or presented at the hearing held that Media Press ever questioned any personnel in the St. Louis Regional Printing Procurement Office of the GPO about the copy furnished, or the type of changes shown in the specifications prior to the production of these orders. There was one request that was received and it was that the Appellant requested permission to drill all parts of all orders. The customer agreed to this change in drilling specifications and the contractor was instructed by telephone to drill all parts on the five orders. 5. On June 14, 1979, the GPO Regional Printing Procurement Office was notified by USDA Farmers Home Administration that the forms on all five orders were printed with incorrect form numbers. 6. Samples of each order were brought to the St. Louis Regional Printing Procurement Office for inspection and comparison with the original copy. The contracting officer and two printing specialist compared the printed samples to the original copy. The copy for the change lines for Jackets 667-099 and 667-100 was missing. USDA-FmHA stated that copies for these form numbers were not returned by the contractor. The contracting officer was satisfied that the copy for the missing change lines was furnished to Media Press since no complaint was received from Media Press and printed samples showed the use of the form numbers from Jacket 667-100. 7. The defects were noted as follows: Jacket P.O. Forms No. Defect 667-095 57 1980-42 Wrong form No. on Part 1 667-097 58 1980-46 Wrong form No. on Parts 1 & 2 667-098 59 1980-47 Wrong form No. on Parts 1 & 2 667-099 60 1980-45 Wrong form No. on Parts 1 & 2 667-100 61 1980-49 Wrong form No. on Parts 1 & 2 The contracting officer also noted that the form numbers 1980-47 and 1980-45 did not appear on any of the sample forms from these five orders. The contracting officer determined that the correct copy had been furnished to the contractor for each order; the contractor should have been able to produce these orders with the correct form numbers because the form number was furnished on the strips of copy for the part designations. 8. On July 13, 1979, the contracting officer sent a rejection notice to the Appellant in which he notified the company that all of the orders were produced with the incorrect form numbers on one or more parts of all sets; that the original camera copy was examined and was correct when mailed to the Appellant. 9. The Appellant was requested to replace or correct all copies of the five defective orders on or before August 24, 1979. 10. The Appellant was advised that it was a final decision of the contracting officer made pursuant to the Article entitled "Disputes" in GPO Contract Terms No. 1 which is an integral part of the contract. The decision would be final and conclusive unless within 30 days from the date of the receipt of the decision a written appeal addressed to the Public Printer was mailed or furnished to the contracting officer. Pending the resolution of any such appeal, the Appellant was to proceed with the performance of the contract and in accordance with the contracting officer's decision. 11. On August 1, 1979, the Appellant wrote to the Public Printer and appealed the decision of the contracting officer. The Company claims that it performed the jobs in exact accordance with the print orders issued and the mistake occurring in the final forms was incurred due to non-specific instructions issued by the US GPO. The Appellant could not understand why the forms produced were not usable to the ordering agency taking the position that the forms could be used by referencing the transaction number much more easily than by referencing an untabled form number. II. Testimony at Hearing At the hearing, the Rule 4 File was in evidence and Mr. Diehl testified on behalf of the Appellant. Mr. Rierson of USDA-FmHA testified as to why the forms were not usable with the wrong form numbers. Mr. Diehl testified how his employee performed the camera work. He was cross-examined by Mr. Lane and among others answered the following questions: Q. You are not arguing that he did it correctly? A. I think he had good intentions, but not correctly. Q. Did he ignore part of the instructions? A. No, he made a perfunctory proofreading of them and assumed they were all the same and was not correct. Q. When he cut up the marginal changes, what did he do with the others? A. They are all there (in Rule 4 File). 4 Q. What did he do with the balance? A. File 13. Q. Was any question raised on these? A. No, not until they were received (USDA-FmHA). It was also bought out at the hearing that all five jobs were received in one envelope. There was a sheet with each print order indicating the change. The combining of the copy and the marginal change took place when one shot was made to save film. The man doing the work believed he had made the marginal changes. What he did was make a perfunctory proofreading and assumed the numbers were the same for the first copy of each form, and another for the second copy. He made one shot for all five sets and the result was the numbers were not the correct ones, and not the ones submitted with the copy. The missing numbers evidently were thrown away. III. Argument of Contractor The changes were marginal changes and the definition of a marginal change in the Simplified Procurement Contract Program 349M, Section III 3.2.(b) reads: "Item 3" Marginal (mar) changes are defined as the change or deletion of one line of words, phrases, designating letters or numbers, etc; usually but not necessarily, appearing in the margin; not affecting the spacing of the base form. Marginal words or phrases changes will be restricted to one line." The marginal change is one line and here there were two lines requiring change. The Appellant read the definition of minor change in the contract which in effect provides a minor change is two marginal changes per part. Apparently the argument being made is that a minor change was required here, and the copy that read "Type of change - Face - Marginal" was incorrect. The Appellant also argues that there was no indication the changes requested were form numbers, because there was a different transaction number on each. When a form number is involved it usually is proceeded by "FmHA Form". The Appellant also argues that the Agency could use the forms that were printed by referencing the transaction number. IV. Position of Government 1. The contract was specific as to what the Government wanted done. 2. The camera copy was clear that the changes were marginal and an extra sheet was sent indicating the marginal changes. 3. The Agency uses the form numbers for referencing and could not use forms that have the wrong number. 4.. The job must be reprinted. V. Opinion We have a contract entered into between a contractor and the United States Government Printing Office for the printing of forms for the USDA-FmHA. Copy was supplied by the GPO and certain marginal changes were requested. If the Appellant had any question on this matter, an inquiry should have been made as to what was not clear in the specifications. If this had been done, then there would have been no error made. In this case, the Appellant made a mistake and did not put the proper form numbers on each set of forms. The contract is clear as to what the obligation of the Appellant is. Article 2 US GPO Contract Terms No. 1 provides: "No change can be made by the contractor in any provision, term, quantity, cost or operation under any order except on written authorization from the contracting officer." The Appellant made a change without such authorization. The law is clear on the subject that the Government is entitled to strict compliance with specifications. In Ideal Restaurant Supply Co., Inc., VACAB 67-1 BCA ¶ 6237 at 28,847, the Board states: "The Board must decide if Appellant was justified in not following strictly the provisions of the specifications, relying on custom and precedent, if the Government was correct in demanding exact compliance with the specifications. Contracting Officers have the right to insist upon strict compliance with specifications. There is no legal requirement that material or equipment offered by contractor not wholly in accordance with specifications be accepted in substitution for the item specified notwithstanding such substitute may be equivalent of that specified. Slingerland Drum Co., ASBCA 2131, 6 CCF ¶ 61,658, 30 Comp. Gen. 509; 36 id. 251; Bain Roofing Co., ASBCA 2688, 6 CCF ¶ 61.830; Farwell Company v. U.S., 137 Ct. Cl. 832; A. E. Minstein Construction Company, VACAB 174 (June 27, 1956). In Farwell Co. v. U.S., cited above, the Court held it is a well established basic principle that the Government is ordinarily entitled to get construction features it has specified and it is not within the province of the contractor to substitute his judgment by determining that something different is suitable." Also see: Consolidated Airborne Systems, Inc., ASBCA 10602, 11154, 66-1 BCA ¶ 5582 (1966); Polyphase Contracting Corp., ASBCA No. 11787, 68-1 BCA ¶ 6759 (1967). In American Electric Contracting Corp. v. United States, 579 F.2d 602 (1978) at 608, it provides: "It is settled that the Government is entitled to obtain precisely what it contracts for as long as it does not mislead the contractor. Rixon Electronics Inc. v. United States, 536 F.2d 1345, 1351, 210 Ct. Cl. 309, 320 (1976); Henry Spen & Co. v. United States, 153 F.Supp. 407, 139 Ct. Cl. 613 (1957); Farwell Co. v. United States, 148 F.Supp. 947, 137 Ct. Cl. 832 (1957); Octagon Process, Inc. v. United States, 141 Ct. Cl. 599, 604 (1958)." In the instant case, the specifications were clear and they were not lived up to. The Government had the right to obtain what it had contracted for and it did not receive it. The argument that a marginal change is one line and in this case there was more than one line does not detract from the obligation of the Appellant to supply what had been contracted for. The Appellant had an obligation to contact the contracting officer if there were any question. When the Appellant went ahead on his own and printed the forms the way he thought they should be printed, he did so at his peril. The Government may reject the offered product and default the contractor. VI. Decision The Appeal is denied. The contracting officer was within his rights in rejecting the forms that were submitted because they did not conform with the specifications.