UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
CONTRACT APPEALS BOARD

Appeal Gem Business Forms, Inc.
Jacket 328-299
Appeal dated February 20, 1981
Decision dated August 29, 1981

PANEL 81-5
THOMAS O. MAGNETTI, Chairman
EDWIN P. DOLAN, Member
JAMES K. MEHAN, Member

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

This is a decision on a timely appeal filed by Gem Business
Forms, Inc.  (hereafter referred to as the contractor).  The
appeal disputes the final decision of the Contracting Officer
terminating the contractor for default.  The appeal is taken in
accordance with Article 2-3 (the "Disputes" clause) of the
Government Printing Office (GPO) Contract Terms No. 1, GPO
Publication 310.2, revised October 1, 1980.  GPO Contract Terms
No. 1 was incorporated by reference into the specifications for
this contract.  Exhibit 1 of the Appeal File (hereafter the
A.F.).  The contract required the contractor to produce for the
General Services Administration (GSA) a specific form titled
"Laboratory Report Display." The form was to contain pressure
sensitive adhesive strips.  The final decision of the Contracting
Officer held that the contractor failed to produce the form
according to the specifications within the schedule requirements
of the contract.

The jurisdiction of the Board of Contract Appeals was established
by GPO Instruction 110.10A, titled "Board of Contract Appeals
Rules of Practice and Procedure." In accordance with that
Instruction, the decision is based upon the record which consists
of the documents and exhibits constituting the Appeal File.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

On December 19, 1980, in accordance with the standard GPO award
procedures, Purchase Order No. 16799 for the procurement of
Standard Form 545, titled "Laboratory Report Display" was awarded
to the contractor after it placed a telephonic bid on the
contract.  Exhibit 4, A.F.  The forms were to contain two
3-15/16" x 3/8" strips of H.B. Fuller's SC 1341 permanent-type
pressure-sensitive adhesive (or equal in all respects).  The
adhesive was to be covered with either a suitable.flexible
plaster protecting material or a suitable flexible paper
covering.  This paper was to be prepared from non-densified 28-32
lb kraft paper that has been siliconized on one side only.  Id.,
pg. 2.  The contractor was supplied a sketch of the form on page
4 of the specifications.  Delivery was to be effected on or
before February 9, 1981.  The form was to be produced in strict
accordance with the specifications.  Exhibit 4, A.F.

On January 15, 1980, the contractor contacted the GPO in order to
obtain guidance concerning the positioning of the adhesive
strips.  Exhibit 10, A.F.  In the course of this conversation,
the contractor was questioned concerning what material was being
used to fabricate these strips.  The contractor stated that the
material was similar to transfer tape and was siliconized on both
sides.  It was then notified that these strips would probably be
unacceptable and to forward.to the GPO suitable samples.  See
also, Exhibit B, A.F.  The samples were forwarded to the GPO that
same day.  Exhibit 6, A.F.

The forms with the strips were tested for compliance with the
specifications by the GPO Quality Control and Technical
Department.  Exhibit 7, A.F.  The test revealed that the paper
used in the adhesive protecting strips was silicone-coated on
both sides.  This was not considered to be equal to the plastic
or paper adhesive protection standards that were set forth in the
contract specifications.  See, Exhibit A, A.F.

By letter dated January 19, 1981, the contractor was informed by
the GPO that its failure to produce in accordance with the
specifications of the contract was considered to be a condition
endangering performance of the contract in accordance with its
terms.  Exhibit 8, A.F.  The contractor was warned that if it
"did not cure the endangering condition within 10 days the GPO
might terminate the contract." The contractor provided an answer
to this cure notice on January 29, 1981.  Exhibit 9, A.F.  In
this letter, it did not deny that it had not complied with the
specifications, but rather, interposed its own objections to the
specifications as originally written.  The grounds for this
objection were that only one company (the Beekley Corp.) was
capable of producing the order under the specifications and that
the product that this contractor provided was superior to the one
required by the contract.

Because the contractor did not cure the condition which
endangered performance, and the delivery date (February 9, 1981)
had passed, the Government terminated the contract.  The
contractor was notified of this by letter dated February 11,
1981, which stated that termination for default was necessary
because the contractor "failed to produce the requirement with
the protective strips specified, within the schedule requirements
of the contract." Exhibit 11, A.F.

The contractor's appeal of this decision, dated February 20,
1981, challenged the.Contracting Officer's final decision to
default the contract.  Exhibit 12, A.F.  The contractor contended
that it provided a product which conformed to all but one of the
specifications.  The contractor pointed out that the protective
strip with both sides coated with bleached kraft silicone that it
was willing to supply was used in over 8,000 hospitals and
clinics throughout the United States and reiterated that use of a
protective covering with only one side silicone-coated would have
made this a sole-source procurement.

DISCUSSION

in determining the rights of the Government, this Board notes
that the Government is entitled to enforce strict compliance with
the specifications found in its contracts.  American Electric
Contracting Corp. v. United States, 579 F.2d 602, 608 (1978);
H.L.C. & Associates Construction Co. v. United States, 176 Ct.
Cl. 285, 367 F.2d 586, 589 (1966); Decatur Realty Sales,  HUD BCA
No. 75-26, 77-2 BCA   12,567.  The determination of whether a
product conforms with the contract specifications must rest with
the Contracting Officer, as this determination is within his/her
discretion in administering a contract.  Thomas W. Yoder Co.,
VACAB 997, 74-1 BCA   10,424 (1974).  Where the specifications
contain an imprecise statement of the contract requirements, the
standard for rejection of the contractor's work becomes more
subjective.  However, this appeal has raised no claim that the
specifications were ambiguous or imprecise so as not to indicate
what the contractor had to do in order to produce a conforming
protective strip.  Rather, the contract specifications set out
what the contractor had to do to be in compliance with the
contract.

In the instant case, the evidence clearly demonstrated that the
product produced by the contractor did not conform with the
contract specifications.  The specifications require that the
adhesive strip be covered with either plastic material or a
flexible paper covering prepared from paper that had been
siliconized on one side only.  (Emphasis added.) Exhibit 1, A.F.
Proof of this defect was illustrated in a sample of the work
itself.  Exhibit A, A..F.  The protective strip, as supplied by
the contractor was silicone-coated on both sides.  The
contractor, in his appeal letter, did not dispute this evidence.
It recognized that the contract called for paper siliconized on
one side and that it produced an adhesive strip siliconized on
both sides.  Exhibit 12; see also, Exhibit 9, A.F.  The
contractor alleged that its product was used throughout the
health industry.  But trade practice does not override an
unambiguous contract provision such as the one in this contract.
W.R.B.  Corp. v. United States, 183 Ct. Cl. 409 (1968).

Therefore, the Board holds that the contractor tendered a product
which did not comply with the specifications within the time
allotted by the contract, and the Contracting Officer was well
within his discretionary powers to terminate the contractor for
default.

The contractor contends that the specifications were written to
favor "one company in the entire graphic arts industry", and it
should be allowed to substitute its product for the product
outlined in the specifications.  Exhibit 9, A.F.  In answer to
this, it should be mentioned that the contractor knew or should
have known of the specification requirements before it submitted
its bid.  The contractor should have been aware of the
availability of the proper paper adhesive strip and should have
notified the Contracting Officer of the impossibility of
performance of the contract as it was written before the
submission of its bid.  However there is no record of the
contractor bringing its objections to the attention of the
Contracting Officer until it responded to the cure notice.  Id.
Since it submitted its bid with knowledge of the silicone
requirements and the state of the industry, it can not now
attempt to evade those responsibilities by stating that it could
not produce the contract as written.

The Board has been provided with an explanation from GSA
concerning the development of the specification standards for the
Laboratory Report Display form.  Exhibit C, A.F.  The rationale
for the use of adhesive strips siliconized on just one side
evolved after complaints were received by GSA that forms using
strips siliconized on both sides were troublesome to use because
the top silicone surface was difficult to grasp.  Moreover the
specifications for these adhesive strips were developed not only
to produce a more useful form but to maximize competition.  A
prospective contractor had two alternative methods for producing
this strip and would be in compliance with the contract.  It
could use a plastic material to protect the adhesive or use a
paper covering that was siliconized on one side only.  Although
the contractor contends that the specification was written for
the one company who could produce in accordance with it, the
latter alternative was added to expand the competitive range of
possible bidders.  Id.  The bare allegations contained the
contractors appeal letter concerning the availability of this
siliconized material lack probative value and cannot be used as a
basis for granting relief.  E.G. & G, Inc., ASBCA No. 14051, 71-1
BCA   18,867.

DECISION

Based upon the above reasoning, the decision of the Contracting
Officer to terminate the contractor for default is upheld.
Accordingly, the contractor's appeal is hereby denied in its
entirety.