PEAKE PRINTERS, INC. GPO BCA 12-85 November 12, 1986 MICHAEL F. DiMARIO, Administrative Law Judge This appeal, timely filed by Peake Printers, Inc. 2500 Schuster Drive, Cheverly, MO 20781 (hereinafter Peake or Appellant), is from the final decision of Alice S. Jennings, Contracting Officer, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20401 (hereinafter GPO or Respondent), dated July 19, 1985 (Official File, Exhibit 1), denying Appellant's request of July 15, 1985 (Rule 4 File, hereinafter R4 File, Tab 9), to modify certain contracts between them known as Program 315-S, Jacket Nos. 381-611, 421-611, and 420-813. The decision of the Contracting Officer is affirmed and the appeal is denied for the reasons set forth hereinbelow. BACKGROUND Invitation for Bids (IFBs) on Program B315-S, a requirements type term contract, to produce various booklets, guide books, and handbooks as might be ordered by the Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, from time to time during the period April 1, 1983 through March 31, 1984 (R4 File, Tab 2), were sent by Respondent to 33 potential printing contractors with 10 responding thereto; seven with "no bids" and 3 with bids as follows: 1. Peake Printers $172,155.30 -1%- $170,434.74 2. Waverly Press 187,709.52 -1%- 185,832.42 3. Garamond Pridemark 209,827.10 -1%- 207,728.83. Among its requirements, the IFB specified that bidders make their bids on a line-item basis for certain portions of the required work. Appellant, with respect to the line-item for work identified on the "Schedule of Prices" as: IV. BINDING: Per 1,000 Copies a. . . . b. Smyth sewing $ 210.00, bid $210.00 (R4 File, Tab 3, page 13 of 14) as contrasted with Waverly Press at $363.69 and Garamond at $249.00. After bid opening, Appellant, the low bidder, was asked by Respondent to review and confirm its bid and did so as originally submitted. (R4 File, Tab 4) Thereafter, Respondent, by Purchase Order No. 27459 dated April 4, 1983, notified Appellant that it had been awarded the program contract "[i]n strict accordance with your Quotation No. 311207 [d]ated 3-14-83 and our specifications." (R4 File, Tab 5) Appellant was then issued several print orders under the contract, produced the required products, and invoiced the Respondent for the work performed. The invoices included billing for Smyth sewing work on a per 1,000 32-page signature basis rather than a per 1,000 copy basis. Respondent paid Appellant for such work in accordance with 3 invoices. However, on another of the invoices, one of Respondent's Voucher Examiners determined that payment per 1,000 32-page signature was not in accordance with the terms of the contract. Thereafter, Respondent notified Appellant of the error and Respondent's corrective action respecting the vouchers. Appellant disagreed with such action and by letter dated July 15, 1985, requested that Respondent issue a contract modification making Smyth sewing billable on a "price per thousand 32-page signatures and parts thereof" basis. (R4 File, Tab 9) Respondent's Contracting Officer telephonically conferred with Appellant and then in a letter dated July 19, 1985, advised Appellant in pertinent part that: This letter is sent to confirm our telephone conversation of July 17, 1985 regarding Program B315-S. The contract pricing structure is such that we asked for a binding cost per 1,000 copies of the books, regardless of the number of pages. For this reason, I cannot modify the contract to allow you to bill the binding costs on a signature basis (32 pages or parts thereof). Although the first two vouchers were billed and paid in error, this does not prohibit the government from recovering the overpayment. While your statement that the cost of Smyth sewing an 80 page book is less than the cost of sewing a 224 page book is correct, it does not have any bearing on the contract (April 1, 1984 thru March 31, 1985) at hand. We have used this pricing structure for a number of years, as well as in our current contract which became effective on April 1, 1985 and have had no problems in requesting prices in this format. However, since you have raised this issue, we will certainly give it consideration when we rewrite the contract next time. If I can be of any further assistance, please contact me. Official File, Exhibit 1. Appellant, by letter of July 29, 1985, appealed this decision to the Board noting in pertinent part that: By her own admission, Ms. Jennings agrees that our interpretation on the binding clause is correct. Yet, she maintains that past practice takes precedence over correctness. Conversely, we don't agree. Over the years, Peake Printers has produced a large number of contracts for the U. S. Government Printing Office. They almost universally allowed variable binding costs for variable page counts. We feel very strongly that these numerous contracts take precedence over this single Program B315-S. Therefore, our opinion is that Ms. Jennings' interpretation is contrary to established standards. Official File, Tab 1. Subsequently, a prehearing conference was held whereat it became clear that there were no factual disputes between the parties and that the only issue was whether or not the contract should be modified as requested by Appellant. Testimony was elicited from the parties respecting whether or not a mistake in bid had occurred. Respondent indicated that, as stated above, Appellant had been requested to review and confirm its bid. This was done as a matter of routine and not as a result of any indication that Appellant's bid was disproportionately lower than other bidders. Indeed, as to Smyth sewing, Respondent's Contracting Officer stated that it had compared Appellant's line item entry with other bids and with is own in-house estimate of costs for such services and found that Appellant's bid was not out-of-line. Appellant, in turn, stated that at the time of bid it had worked up a base contract price and then estimated its binding costs on a per 1,000 32-page signature basis. Appellant's representative added that he believed one of the other bidders had in fact "padded" additional binding expenses over and above its Smyth sewing line-item entry into other elements of its pricing but offered no evidence to support this allegation. At the close of the prehearing conference, Respondent, through counsel, made a Motion for Summary Judgment stating that since there were no factual disputes between the parties, Respondent was entitled to a decision in its favor as a matter of law based upon the unambiguous plain language of the contract. Appellant did not respond to the motion by objection but did ask that the undersigned orally rule upon the motion at that time. The undersigned then ruled in favor of the Respondent granting the Motion for Summary Judgment subject, however, to modification if upon his review of the written record, such modification was warranted. DISCUSSION As stated above, the Board finds that the only issue in this case is whether or not the contract should be modified as requested by Appellant. The Board holds that it should not be so modified. To properly understand the issue and decision in this case, one must understand the nature of the authority of this Board. The Board is not a creature of statute; thus, it has no powers which arise under law as do courts. Instead, it derives all its powers by virtue of the so-called disputes clause of the contract itself. That clause, Article 2-3 of GPO Contract Terms No. 1, gives a contractor the contractual right to appeal any dispute with the Contracting Officer which is "related to the contract" to the Public Printer who is in fact the Officer of the United States authorized by statute to contract on behalf of the United States (44 U.S.C. 502). The disputes clause in turn gives the Public Printer the authority to delegate his appeal authority to his designee which he has done by GPO Instruction 110.12 dated September 17, 1984, designating this Board his agent for that purpose. Thus, the Board's authority is purely derivative and contractual. As such, it is constrained by the terms of the contract itself. Since this is the case, the Board cannot enlarge the very agreement between the parties from which it derives its authority merely because it deems such action to be equitable, but will be constrained to deciding disputes within the parameters of the contract itself. Examining the specifications in this light, the Board finds that while it cannot modify the contract by way of unilateral reformation of its terms, the "Disputes Article" phrase "related to the contract" is broad enough in its scope to give authority to the Board to deal with questions of post-award discovery of mistake in bid. Examining the facts of the case respecting the question of mistake, the Board finds that this in fact is what Appellant alleges has occurred, i.e., that Appellant, contrary to the plain meaning of the "per 1,000 copies" language mistakenly read into that phrase a meaning of "per 1,000 copies of 32 page signatures." Accepting that a claim of post-award discovery of mistake in bid has been made out, the Board next turns to the law respecting such matter. This Board recently reviewed such law in the appeal of Valley Forms, Inc., Docket No. GPO BCA 1-84, Jan. 15, 1986. In Valley Forms, Inc., we cited Manistique Tool and Manufacturing Company, ASBCA No. 29164, Aug. 13, 1984, 84-3 BCA ¶ 17,599, as clearly summarizing such law wherein at page 87,677 it said: As a general rule, neither a Board of Contract Appeals or the Claims Court is authorized to relieve a bidder from its obligations under a contract unless it is subject to invalidation on recognized legal grounds, such as mutual mistake, or a mistake of which the contracting officer was on notice or should have been on notice. Aydin Corporation v. United States [29 CCF ¶ 82,129], 229 Ct.Cl. 309, 669 F.2d 681 (1982); Wender Presses, Inc. v. United States [10 CCF ¶ 72,978], 170 Ct.Cl. 483, 343 F.2d 961 (1965); Holway Oil Company, ASBCA No. 27862, 83-2 BCA ¶ 16,684. Moreover, before relief by reformation or rescission is available to relieve a contractor of the effect of its mistake, the mistake must be a "clear cut clerical or arithmetical error, or misreading of the specifications" and such relief does not extend to mistakes of judgment. Aydin Corporation v. United States, supra; National Line Co. v. United States [26 CCF ¶ 83,394, 221 Ct.Cl. 673, 607 F.2d 978 (1979); Ruggiero v. United States [14 CCF ¶ 83,352], 190 Ct.Cl. 327, 420 F.2d 709 (1970); Michael Chernick v. United States [12 CCF ¶ 80,938], 178 Ct.Cl. 498, 372 F.2d 492 (1967). [A]ppellant is entitled to relief in contract reformation or rescission for a unilateral mistake in bid claimed after contract award only where the contracting officer knew or should have known of the mistake at the time the bid was accepted. Figgie International, Inc., ASBCA No. 27541, 83-1 BCA ¶ 16,421; Paragon Energy Corp. v. United States [28 CCF ¶ 81,290], 227 Ct.Cl. 176, 645 F.2d 966 (1981). In Valley Forms, Inc., we further cited Aerospace Components, Inc., ASBCA No. 28606, June 27, 1984, 84-3 BCA ¶ 17,536, respecting the question of post-award mistake in bid wherein at page 87,339 the ASBCA said: [F]or a unilateral mistake in bid (discovered or alleged after award), to be remediable, the contracting officer must have had actual knowledge or been on constructive notice of a possible clerical or careless error in the bid. Wender Presses, Inc.v. United States [10 CCF ¶ 72,978], 170 Ct.Cl. 483, 343 F.2d 961 (1965); Walter Straga, ASBCA No. 26134, 83-2 BCA ¶ 16,611. Here, the only potential indication would have been a substantial price disparity between the Texas Aerospace bid and the next lowest offers. Given that this disparity with the next lowest offer was only 3 percent and the next two offers were 13.4 and 18.8 percent, respectively, higher than Texas Aerospace's bid, we are unable to conclude that the contracting officer should have been deemed to have been on constructive notice of an error. As in Valley Forms, Inc., we believe that the facts at hand in this case do not support a finding that the Contracting Officer suspected or should have suspected such mistake in bid given the history of prior use of the language, the Respondent's own analysis of estimated costs, and the competitive range of Smyth sewing bids between the first, second, and third bidders. Moreover, we believe that the kind of mistake made by Appellant in reading into the "per 1,000 copies" language the 32-page signature intention is a mistake in judgment and not a mere misreading of the specification. In such cases the courts, as we cited in Great Lakes Lithograph Company, Docket No. GPO BCA 18-84, May 22, 1985, have long held that " . . . an agreement cannot be revised to reflect a plaintiff's subjective understanding the defendant does not and should not know of." Benjamin v. United States, 348 F.2d 502, 172 Ct. Cl. 118 (1965). Accordingly, this Board can find no basis for granting the appeal. Thus, the appeal is denied and the decision of the Contracting Officer is affirmed.