U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS GREAT LAKES LITHOGRAPH COMPANY GPO BCA 18-84 May 22, 1985 MICHAEL F. DiMARIO, Administrative Law Judge OPINION This appeal arises under the disputes clause of the U.S. Government Printing Office ("GPO") Contract Terms No. 1, GPO Publication 310.2, dated October 1, 1980, which by reference was incorporated in and made a part of the contract between Great Lakes Lithograph Company ("GLL"), Cleveland, Ohio, appellant, and the U.S. Government Printing Office, Purchase Order 31515, Jacket Nos. 416-825, 416-826, 416-827, and 416-828. GLL timely appealed the final decision of Jack G. Marken, Contracting Officer, GPO, denying GLL's claim for $32,840 in additional compensation for work actually performed; the claim being based upon a post-award claim of error in bid. Initially, the appellant requested an informal hearing of the matter in dispute. However, at a prehearing conference held February 19, 1985, appellant's President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. George Schultz, advised that he did not intend to offer any evidence in addition to the administrative record already before this Board. Therefore, with the concurrence of Mr. Schultz and Government counsel that the appeal should be decided on the record, a single witness was called at the prehearing conference. That testimony, the record of the prehearing conference itself, and the administrative record previously submitted, form the basis for this opinion. Background 1. On October 20, 1983, the respondent issued certain "display specifications" as an Invitation to Bid ("IFB") on a contract for the printing of a certain highly complex lithographic product entitled, "U.S. Marine Corps Uniforms 1983 Plates," requiring lithographic conformance of the final product with Level I of the GPO Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program (GPO Publication 110.1) pursuant to the requisition of the Department of the Navy. 2. The specifications described the product as "12 lithographs, one 28-page pamphlet (saddle-wire stitched); one folded and embossed form (portfolio); 2 envelopes; and 1 mailing board; printing gathered, and packaged into 2 kit configurations identified as category A and category B" (Exhibit 2, page 1). The specifications in pertinent part required that the lithographs be printed "one side only in 4-color process" (Exhibit 2, page 5), on two different paper stocks; one for "category A and additional quantities of lithos 7 & 8" and one for Category B (Exhibit 2, page 5). The Category A stock was described as "white dull coated cover, basis size 20 x 26", 80 lbs per 500 sheets, equal to JCP Code L-60." The successful bidder had the option of producing the Category B requirements on any of the following stocks: "Monadnock Dulcet cover, smooth white finish, basis 80 lb; Curtis Colophon Cover, white, basis 80 lb; Mohawk Superfine Cover, Bright White Plate Finish, basis 80 lb" (Exhibit 2, page 5). The specifications called for "the contractor to make all films required" from Government furnished "artist's originals" having "a priceless historical value" (Exhibit 2, page 2) and to submit "three sets of full color proofs and three progressive proof books of each lithograph" (Exhibit 2, page 3) to the GPO for approval prior to printing (Exhibit 2, page 4). The specifications "cautioned" that "these proofs must be made from the final films (used for this printing) that are to be delivered to the Government." Moreover, the specifications required that the lithographs "must be printed on a press capable of printing four colors in a single pass through the press (minimum four printing units)" (Exhibit 2, page 5). The bidders were also advised by the specifications that they were not limited to four colors but could "use additional color(s) as required to match the original art" (Exhibit 2, page 5). The specifications provided other cautions with respect to the submission and approval of paper samples "prior to the commencement of production" (Exhibit 2, page 4). The specifications listed specific quantities to be produced of the lithographs, pamphlets, folded form (portfolio), mailing board, envelope (Category A), and envelope (Category B) (Exhibit 2, page 1). The lithograph quantity was stated as: "22,904 copies of each of lithos 1-6 and 9-12; 26,904 copies of litho 7; and 24,904 copies of litho 8 (280,848 total lithos)." The specifications advised bidders that: Offers must include the cost of all materials and operations for each item listed in accordance with these specifications. Award will be based on the lowest total price for the jackets listed. Prices for additional quantities must be based on a continuing run, exclusive of all basic or preliminary charges and will not be a factor for determination of award. J.416-825 5,000 Category A and 4,804 Category B kits $____. J.416-826 10,100 Category B kits $____. J.416-827 3,000 Category A kits $____. J.416-828 Lithos only: 4,000 Litho 7 and 2,000 Litho 8 $____. TOTAL price per specifications $____. Additional 100 Category A sets $____. Additional 100 Category B kits $____. Additional copies either litho $____. Indicate stock to be used on Category B Lithos _____. Contractor is required, when billing, to itemize the shipping cost." (Exhibit 2, page 9.) The specifications, original artwork, and other elements of the job were on public display for prospective bidders in respondent's central office, Washington, DC, from October 19, 1983 until the date of bid opening on October 26, 1983. Nine contractors known to respondent to have the technical capability of producing the required product were sent Invitations to Bid. However, other bids were encouraged by bid posting and formal advertising. Appellant, although not among the original invitees, did avail itself of the opportunity to bid and had its representative, Mr. Richard Findlay, view the display during this period, although there is some dispute as to the facts of that occurrence which I will discuss more fully herein below. On October 26, 1983, appellant, through Mr. Findlay, filed its bid with the respondent as follows: J. 416-825 5,000 Category A and 4,804 Category B $69,775.00 J. 426-826 10,100 Category B kits $75,164.20 J. 416-827 3,000 Category A kits. $29,414.40 J. 416-828 Lithos Only: 4,000 Litho 7 and 2,000 Litho 8 $2,005.80 Total price as per specifications $167,359.40 Additional 100 Category A kits $665.00 Additional 100 Category B kits $ 730.00 Additional copies of either litho $ .32 Indicate stock to be used on Category B Lithos Mohawk Superfine Cover (Exhibit 7). That same day, bids were opened and it was determined that six responsive bids had been received ranging in price from $115,845 to $268,814. Subsequently, the two lowest bidders at $115,845 and $126,700, respectively, were declared to be nonresponsible. The third lowest bidder, Gateway Press, Inc., at $140,250, by telephone call of November 8, 1983, prior to award, advised respondent that it had made an error in its bid which it substantiated to the satisfaction of respondent's Contracting Officer and Contract Review Board by affidavit of its representative, Mr. Kit Georgehead dated November 11, 1983. Gateway claimed error because it had not examined the displayed materials and had based its estimate on printing the lithographs 2-up, using the same color separations and plates resulting in a bid error of some $26,970 for a corrected bid of $167,215. The contracting officer's analysis of the affidavit and Gateway's worksheets and statement from respondent's Quality Assurance Section that the lithographs must be printed l-up in order to get the required quality were deemed to be clear and convincing evidence of the error claimed but not of the bid actually intended. Thus, Gateway's bid was withdrawn from consideration (Exhibit 5). GLL was the fourth lowest bidder and next in line for the award. Because of the substantial difference between GLL's bid and the next higher bid, however, the Contracting Officer suspected that GLL might also have made an error in its bid. Accordingly, Mr. Findlay was requested to review and confirm the GLL bid (Exhibit 4 & 6). The price discrepancy between GLL's bid and the next lowest bid was pointed out to GLL at this time. (The next lowest bid was by Peake Printers, Cheverly, Maryland, at $259,416 followed by French/Bray Printers, Glen Burnie, Maryland, at $268,814, Exhibit 25). Mr. Richard Findlay conveyed his review and confirmation of the prices as being correct as submitted to "SMC" on November 9, 1983 (Exhibit 6). In addition, respondent, by standard letter of November 9, 1983, advised GLL that it "may be in line for contract award on Jacket 416-825 thru 828" and that it (should) carefully read certain conditions set forth in the letter, signify acceptance in writing, and return the acceptance to respondent. Among the conditions was the statement "1. I have reviewed the specifications and confirm my bid." The acceptance was signed "Wm. A. Meyer, Senior Vice- Pres., Great Lakes Lithograph 11/10/83" (Exhibit 3). On November 18, 1983, a preaward survey of Great Lakes was conducted by respondent (Exhibit 7) with a determination being made on November 22, 1983, that the firm was "capable of producing printing and binding products that meet the quality level I requirements of GPO's Quality Assurance Through Attributes Program (GPO Pub. 310.1 rev. 6/1/81) (Exhibit 6). Subsequent to the review and confirmation (R&C) of bid and the favorable preaward survey the contracting officer on November 21, 1983, recommended to the respondent's Contract Review Board that the award be made to Great Lakes finding that the bid prices were "fair and reasonable based upon the corrected bid from Gateway Press, and R&C from Great Lakes Litho (Exhibit 6). The Board unanimously concurred in the award on November 22, 1983. The award was made on November 29, 1983. Great Lakes executed a performance bond in accordance with the contract and began work on or about December 2, 1983. By December 7 the contractor had sent in paper samples for approval and on December 12 was telephoned by respondent that the samples were OK (Exhibit 11). This was followed by a confirming letter on December 14, 1983, which stated that the samples were equal to specifications. On December 14, 1983, GPO received dylux and envelope proofs from the appellant. The full color proofs and progressive proofs for the lithographs were not, however, supplied to respondent with either of these submissions and when respondent made inquiry with appellant on December 15, 1983 (Exhibit 13), it was told that GLL had sent the paper samples, dylux, and envelope proofs first so that GLL could prepare for the manufacture of the required envelopes, and that the full color proofs and progressive proofs would be shipped by January 13, 1984. The 4-color and progressive proofs were received in fact by the respondent on January 9, 1984 but were not acceptable and apparently generated discussion by telephone on January 10, 11, and 12, 1984, between appellants Mr. Meyer and Mr. Nakonek; and respondents Mr. Richard Lee, Superintendent, Purchase Division; Mr. Jack Marken; and Mr. Walter Burroughs, Chief, Technical Review Section, Printing Procurement Department (Exhibit 30). The extent of each conversation or exact participants is not clear from the record. What is clear, however, is that it is at this point that appellant apparently discovered its claimed mistake in bid since there was discussion of the need for a second set of separations for uncoated stock. This was followed by some additional telephone conversations between January 16 and 20 "concerning interpretation of the bid and contract and possible errors in bid" (Exhibit 30). The contractor in a letter dated January 20, 1984, asserts that on one of these days (January 17) "we heard from Messers. Dick Lee and Walt Burroughs of GPO that they desire separate color separations, etching, proofs and make ready and final printing for the original lithographs to be printed on Category B." The contractor then asserts that "this is an addition to the specifications and the contract stating that the cost to do 12 additional 5 color sets, etching, press proofing, and separate make readies will run an additional $32,840." Moreover, the contractor claims that "due to absorption and dot spread on an uncoated sheet of Mohawk Superfine cover stock, we will never achieve the degree of brilliance and sheen that is in our proofs on the white dull coated cover" (Exhibit 15). On January 26, 1984, respondents Mr. J. G. Marken and Mr. Walter Burroughs met with appellants Messers. George Schultz, Michael Nakonek, and Richard Findlay to go over proofs (Exhibit 16). At the meeting the appellant indicated it would proceed with the contract but wished to claim a post-award error in bid (Exhibit 16). On January 27, 1984, in response to a letter dated January 20, 1984, Mr. J. G. Marken, the contracting officer, wrote to Mr. William Meyer of GLL and advised him that "We don't require 12 additional color separations, if you can match the art with one set of films you may do so. However, we do believe it will be necessary to make separate color separations for each type of paper, to meet the quality standards required. Our specifications do not advise contractors how to achieve our requirements. They merely set standards to be maintained." The appellant completed the job and by letter of February 9, 1984, made formal claim for the $32,840 supported by affidavit of Mr. George E. Schultz dated February 9, 1984, indicating that "the error occurred because the specifications did not indicate separate separations were required and although it is a Level I job with high quality required, we felt ink on press, pressures and press manipulation would suffice on the uncoated sheet, since the Mohawk sheet will never show the finish or brilliance of the dull coat paper part of the contract." The affidavit, Attachment X, and estimate sheets attached thereto supported appellant's contention that it had not included the additional 12 separations in its bid preparation and that had it done so its bid would have been $200,199.40 rather than $167,359.40 (Exhibit 21). The record also contains the administrative findings and determination of the contracting officer pursuant to Printing Procurement Regulation Chapter IV, Section 6-4 and GPO Instruction 910.1 that the evidence provided by GLL was "in support of their claim. Not what bid they intended." He concluded that "No change should be made in the contract as awarded." (Exhibit 23) Mr. J. A. Markley, Contract Specialist, submitted the Findings and Determination to the GPO Contract Review Board by memo of March 6, 1984, asking concurrence that no change should be made in the contract price. The memorandum stated that the contracting officer believed that "The specifications clearly indicated that the 12 lithos are to be produced on two different stocks and it is up to the contractor to bid accordingly;" that Mr. Schultz's affidavit of February 9, 1984, supra, indicated that "the error claimed is in the way the contractor was going to produce the job and not in the bid submitted." That the award was made to appellant "only after having the contractor (Mr. Findlay) and Mr. Meyer review and confirm their bid," that "the alleged error was unilateral" and [the contracting officer's] obligation was fulfilled when Great Lakes Litho was asked (sic) to review and confirm the bid price and the price was confirmed as correct." (Exhibit 23) Mr. James Smith, Chairman of the Contract Review Board, concurred with the determination on March 8, 1984 (Exhibit 23). By final decision letter dated March 12, 1984, the Contracting Officer summarized the findings hereinabove recited advising the appellant that "There is no evidence to suggest the Government contributed in any way to the asserted error . . . " and that "Under the circumstances, the award consummated a valid and binding contract which fixed the rights and liabilities of the parties. There is consequently no legal basis for increasing the price as requested." (Exhibit 25) By letter of June 4, 1984, the appellant appealed the final decision to the Public Printer (Exhibit 37) stating in pertinent part that: As the bid was understood by our firm, we felt our bid price was correct and so stated in our acceptance letter. It was later after proofs were submitted and rejected, we found that the U.S. Government Printing Office expected us to make separate separations of the same 12 originals to print the second sheet of paper specified. In our fifty three years in business, we never had to do this and since it was not mentioned in the bid (sic), and this being our first Level One job, we could not anticipate this requirement . . . . [When] we were questioned to review our figures, . . . we were still only working with the information on the bid (sic) . . . due to lack of definitive information in the bid (sic), an error in bid was made. (Exhibit 37) Mr. Walter Burroughs, by memorandum of June 14, 1984, to Mr. James Markley, Contract Specialist, Printing Procurement Department, Purchase Division, in response to the appeal letter of June 4, 1984, supra, states: We cannot ascertain then or now whether Great Lakes understood the specifications or not, but after they had reviewed and confirmed their bid price and our specifications, we have to assume that it was a competent bid. The fact that most of the bid prices were considerably higher, does not mean that the other contractors read more into the specifications then (sic) Great Lakes. However, you do have to consider it. . . . I don't believe we have bought any job with such a wide difference in printing surfaces and characteristics. The information in the specifications was the same to all contractors and I don't know of any inquiries about this subject while out on bid. . . . when any color separator inquires . . . about the type of stock . . . the job will print on, he will adjust his methods of color separation . . . for the stock. . . . proofs were rejected by GPO . . . . It was at this time that I informed Great Lakes that in my judgment the same color separated films for the dull coated stock could not be used for the uncoated stock, and I pointed out the problems. Cameramen have been adjusting negatives for the difference between stocks and printing equipment for years. Any technical camera operation book or training program will teach this fact. At this time, Great Lakes knew that they had not understood the requirements of the specifications or what Quality Level I involved. . . . I have made some inquiries concerning this camera operation for different stock with some disinterested parties, and they have confirmed my judgment that two different sets of color separated films would have been necessary and that the specifications clearly stated this situation. This is not to state that the original art would be easy to color separate, but that many tests would be necessary to find the correct techniques and screen range for each and every piece of art. Mr. R. E. Lee, Jr., by memo to File dated June 12, 1984, asserted that: Great Lakes representative Mr. Findlay was in to review the copy and specifications before bid opening. I covered the entire specification with him, pointing out each phase in detail, especially the fact that the lithos each were to be printed on two different kinds of stock, which would require two sets of separations because of stock change, obvious dot gain, and the quality level requirement. I again went over these same facts twice with Mr. Findlay after Great Lakes Litho was the apparent low bidder. (Exhibit 38) By letter dated June 29, 1984, a list of exhibits presented by the Contracting Officer in support of respondent's position, was furnished to the appellant by R. J. Garvey, Chief, Support Services Division, GPO, then the administrator responsible for Board of Contract Appeals support services, with advice that the exhibits were available for examination by appellant. Appellant apparently availed itself of this opportunity, for by letter of July 26, 1984 it was furnished copies of certain exhibits it had requested from Mr. Garvey including a copy of Mr. Lee's memorandum to File, supra. This exhibit was reviewed by Mr. Findlay at the request of Mr. Schultz and by letter of August 1, 1984, Mr. Findlay advised Mr. Schultz in pertinent part that: Perhaps Mr. Lee spoke to a number of potential bidders and thought he met with me. As I recall, Mr. Emerson Suneuga (sic), the spec writer, first reviewed the material for display in Mr. Lee's office. This was before the awarding of the contract and at this time neither verbally nor in any written form was there mention made or even a suggestion that the contractor would be required to make an additional set of separations for a different stock, in order to meet any requirements set forth by the contract. Prior to the bid award and after we appeared to be low bidder Mr. Lee did speak to me in regard to quality and performance of the contract. However, no mention was made regarding two sets of seprations (sic) . . . . . . . The first time I heard this requirement was after Mr. Burroughs rejected the first set of proofs and Mr. Lee made mention that in order to meet specs Great Lakes Litho would be required to produce a double set of seprations (sic) to be done (sic). This was my interpretation and all of my professional associates involved with the preparation of the bid. (Unnumbered Exhibit submitted by Mr. Schultz.) On February 19, 1985, a prehearing conference was held between the parties and the undersigned. At that conference Mr. James Markley, in response to the question of whether the Government, after receiving GLL's bid, had been alerted that GLL's bid was based upon doing only 12 separations, responded "that if the solicitation had called for a line item bid quotation as opposed to a single bid quotation for the entire contract, the Government might have been able to detect that there was a problem in specification interpretation by GLL, but such was not the case in this matter (Prehearing Conference Report, pages 3 and 4). Mr. Markley was asked to look at Government's Exhibit 5 (from Mr. Marken) and asked whether Gateway withdrew because of the two sets of color separations. Mr. Markley answered affirmatively. The date of withdrawal by Gateway was pointed out to Mr. Markley to be November 8, 1983. Mr. Markley was then asked to state the date GLL was contacted by GPO with respect to their bid. He stated the date as November 9, 1983. He then confirmed that the error in bid from Gateway was because they misread the specification as to the number of separations they would be required to make but that this specific information was not conveyed to GLL at the time of its review and confirmation of bid (Prehearing Conference Report, pages 4 and 5). With the concurrence of both parties the discrepancy between Mr. Findlay's version and Mr. Lee's memo as to the specific information conveyed to Mr. Findlay prior to bid opening was explored by calling Mr. Richard Lee as a witness, after his first being cautioned concerning the penalties under Federal law for the giving of any false official statement. Mr. Lee was asked a series of questions relating to his conversation with Mr. Findlay. The essence of his response was that he definitely spoke to Mr. Findlay before bid opening and that it was in his office where the original artwork was on display. He "told Mr. Findlay that the job was Level I, the highest level in the GPO system" and "went over the requirements of the job with Mr. Findlay, as I do with each bidder. Because Mr. Findlay was new to me and GLL new to GPO, I felt the need to go into more detail about the job; specifically, the two different papers and the type of equipment at GLL." When asked if he had told Mr. Findlay that there was a need for double color separations because of the need for two papers he first said "yes" but after questioning by Mr. Schultz as to whether he specifically told Mr. Findlay double color separations he responded: "Not in so many words. We cannot tell the contractor how to do the job. I told Mr. Findlay of dot gain before award and before bid opening." Mr. Lee was not certain as to whether there was anyone else present during the conversation (Prehearing Conference, pages 6 and 7). The appeal comes to the Board for decision in this form. Discussion. The question presented by this appeal is whether or not the facts substantiate a claim of mistake in bid such as in equity should cause the contract to be reformed in order to compensate appellant for work in excess of that contemplated in its bid. Appellant claims that its mistake in bid was based upon misleading specifications drawn by respondent which caused it to misread the requirements of the contract as to the number of lithographic separations which it would have to make in order to produce the required printed product. The respondent does not contest the fact that appellant made a mistake but claims that it was one of judgment as to the method by which it could meet the requirements of the specifications which it believes were clear and unambiguous. The significance of these two differing positions is that under one set of facts the appellant may be lawfully compensated for its work while under the other it may not since "it is well established that an erroneous bid based upon a mistake in judgment does not entitle the contractor to reformation of its contract." 7/ United States v. Hamilton Enterprises Inc., 711 F.2d 1038(1983) at 1048, citing Aydin Corp. v. United States, supra; American Ship Building Co. v. United States, 654 F.2d 75 (Ct. Cl. 1981); National Line Co. v. United States, 607 F.2d 978 (Ct.Cl. 1979); Tony Downs Foods Co. v. United States, 530 F.2d 367 (Ct.Cl. 1976). While on the other hand "a clear cut clerical or arithmetical error, or misreading of specifications" may be compensated in certain circumstances. Ruggiero, 190 Ct.Cl. 335, 420 F.2d 713. "The question depends not alone on whether the bidder made a mistake but on the application of certain legal principles to the established facts in the particular case ...." 17 Comp. Gen. 817 (1938), at 818. The authority to decide cases of mistake in bid were at one time closely controlled by the Comptroller General but since that time have been delegated to the heads of purchasing agencies. 38 Comp. Gen. 177 (1958). The authority and procedure for such correction in the GPO is set forth on page 46 of its Printing Procurement Regulations (GPO Publication 305.3, 1980 as revised). Those regulations in pertinent part provide that: SECTION 6 MISTAKES IN BID 1. GENERAL. After the opening of bids, the Contracting Officer shall examine all bids for mistakes. In cases of apparent mistake and in cases where the Contracting Officer has reason to believe that a mistake may have been made, the bidder shall be advised of the suspected mistake and requested to verify the bid. . . . 2. APPARENT CLERICAL MISTAKES. Any clerical mistake, apparent on the face of a bid, may be corrected by the Contracting Officer prior to award, if the Contracting Officer has first obtained verification, in writing, of the bid actually intended from the bidder. . . . 3. OTHER MISTAKES DISCLOSED BEFORE AWARD. a. The Chairperson, Contract Review Board, is authorized . . . to make the administrative determinations described below. . . . The authority is limited to bids . . . responsive to the IFB. . . . (1) A determination . . . to withdraw the bid where . . . clear and convincing evidence established the existence of a mistake. (2) . . . if . . . clear and convincing as to . . . mistake and as to the bid actually intended and if the bid, . . . uncorrected and corrected, is the lowest . . . correct the bid and not permit . . . withdrawal. (3) A determination may be made permitting . . . bidder to correct where . . . clear and convincing evidence establishes both the existence of a mistake and the bid actually intended. However, if . . . correction . . . result in displacing . . . lower acceptable bids, the determination shall not be made unless the existence of the mistake and the bid actually intended are ascertainable substantially from the invitation and bid itself. . . . 4. DISCLOSURES OF MISTAKE AFTER AWARD. a. . . . the mistake may be corrected . . . if correcting . . . would make the contract more favorable to the government . . .. b. In addition . . . Contracting Officers, with the approval of the Chairperson, Contract Review Board are authorized to . . .. (1) . . . delet[e] the item . . . involved in the mistake or (2) increas[e] the price if . . . , as corrected, [it] does not exceed that of the next lowest acceptable bid under the original invitation for bids. c. [if] clear and convincing evidence that a mistake . . . was made, and . . . was mutual or that the unilateral mistake . . . by the contractor was so apparent as to have charged the Contracting Officer with notice of the probability of mistake. These regulations comport with the general rule in [g] overnment contract law . . . that if a bidder has made a mistake in submission of a bid that was neither induced nor shared by the Government and the bid has been accepted, the bidder must bear the consequences of the mistake unless the contracting officer knew or should have known of the existence of the mistake at the time the bid was accepted. Doke, Mistakes in Government Contracts - Error Detection Duty of Contracting Officers, 18 S.W.L.J. 1, 10 (1964). The principles of law to be applied in "mistake in bid" cases have been judicially fashioned (Aydin Corp. v. United States, 669 F.2d 681, 685 (Ct.Cl. 1982)) based upon the view that: Although an award normally results in a binding contract fixing the parties' rights and obligations (United States v. Purcell Envelope Co., 249 U.S. 313, 39 S.Ct. 300, 63 L.Ed. 620 (1919)), so that ordinarily no relief will be granted to a party to an executory contract in the case of a unilateral mistake, Saligman v. United States, 56 F.Supp. 505, 507 (E.D. Pa., 1944), nevertheless an acceptance of a bid containing a palpable, inadvertent, error cannot result in an enforceable contract. Moffett, Hodgkins & Clarke Co. v. City of Rochester, 178 U.S. 373, 20 S.Ct. 957, 44 L.Ed. 1108 (1940); United States v. Metro Novelty Manufacturing Co., 125 F.Supp. 713 (S.D. N.Y. 1954); Kemp v. United States, 38 F.Supp. 568 (D.Md., 1941).  . . . [However,] plaintiff may recover only if defendant's responsible officials knew or should have known of the mistake at the time the bid was accepted. Allied Contractors, Inc. v. United States, 310 F.2d 945, 159 Ct.Cl. 548 (1962); Alabama Shirt & Trouser Co. v. United States, 121 Ct.Cl 313 (1952); Hyde Park Clothes, Inc. v. United States, 84 F.Supp. 589, 114 Ct.Cl. 424 (1949); Massman Construction Co. v. United States, 60 F.Supp. 635, 102 Ct.Cl. 699, cert. denied, 325 U.S. 866, 65 S.Ct. 1403, 89 L.Ed. 1985 (1945); Dougherty & Ogden v. United States, 102 Ct.Cl. 249 (1944); Rappoli Co., Inc. v. United States, 98 Ct.Cl. 499 (1943); Alta Electric & Mechanical Co. v. United States, 90 Ct.Cl. 466 (1940). Wender, supra at 962. [Moreover, where] . . . there is no showing of any actual knowledge, the only question is whether defendant's officials should have known of the mistake. Included in this problem is the question of whether, even though they could not have known with certainty from the bid data that a mistake had been made, there nevertheless was enough to have reasonably cast upon defendant's officials the duty to make inquiry, which inquiry would have led to the requisite knowledge. See Doke, Mistakes in Government Contracts - Error Detection Duty of Contracting Officers, 18 S.W.L.J. 1 (1964). Wender, supra at 962.  The task of ascertaining what an official in charge of accepting bids "should" have known or suspected is, of course, not always an easy one. . . . the test here, as in so many areas, must be that of reasonableness, i.e., whether under the facts and circumstances of 'the particular case there were any factors which reasonably should have raised the presumption of error in the mind of the contracting officer', Welch, Mistakes in Bids, 18 Fed.B.J. 75, 83 (1958), Wender, supra at 963. . . . where it is obvious from the range of bids itself that a mistake must have been made, or that there is a real possibility of such error, and the Government has done nothing by way of making appropriate inquiry, relief will be afforded. Universal Transistor Products Corp. v. United States, 214 F.Supp. 486 (E.D.N.Y. 1963); Alta Electric & Mechanical Co. v. United States, supra; Kemp v. United States, supra; Saligman v. United States, supra; C. N. Monroe Manufacturing Co. v. United States, 143 F.Supp. 449 (E.D.Mich. 1956). Wender, supra at 963. Where, as in the case at hand, the Government surmises that there may be a mistake in bid, "[t]here is authority that a mere general request for verification would not suffice; it should invite attention to the reason for surmising error." United States v. Metro Novelty Mfg. Co., 125 F. Supp. 713 (S.D.N.Y. 1954) at p. 714. (See also Doke, Mistakes in Government Contracts - Error Detection Duty of Contracting Officers, 18 S.W. L.J. 1, 30 (1964) and United States v. Hamilton Enterprises, Inc., 711 F.2d 1038 (Ct.Cl. 1983)). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in reviewing the law affecting the adequacy of the Government's Verification of Contractor's Bid in Hamilton, supra, states: The landmark case on the adequacy of the Government's verification of bids in which mistakes are or should have been suspected is United States v. Metro Novelty Mfg. Co., 124 F.Supp. 713 (S.D.N.Y. 1954). There the court held that the request for verification was inadequate because it failed to put the bidder on notice of the mistake which the contracting officer surmised. In applying the rule in Metro, the Comptroller General has issued several decisions in which he has held that where a disparity, . . . is brought to the notice of the contracting officer, the bidder must be placed on notice of the nature and extent of the mistake which is suspected. See, e.g., 44 Comp. Gen. 383 (1965). In unpub. Comp.Gen. B-177405, Nov. 29, 1972, . . . the Comptroller General stated that in order for a request for verification to conform with the good faith dealings expected of the Government's contracting officials, the request should be as fully informative as possible concerning the pertinent factors indicating to the contracting officer that an error might have been made in the bid. 5/ . . .. In addition . . . In applying the Metro principle, Doke states that . . . a request for verification is insufficient if the contracting officer fails to put the bidder on notice of the reasons why a mistake is surmised [18 S.W.L.J. at 34]. The contracting officer must consider all of the circumstances involved in the acquisition, not just the prices offered by the low and next low bidder. The full range of bids, as well as the Government estimate, should be considered in deciding whether or not a verification request is necessary . . . citing Hagberg, Mistake in Bid, Including New Procedures Under Contract Disputes Act of 1978, 13 Pub.Contract L.J. 257 (1983). [Moreover,] . . . when a bidder has made an error in its bid price and the contracting officer has reason to know of the error, but took advantage of it, and the bidder performed in accordance with the award, the price will be corrected upon presentation of evidence clearly and convincingly establishing what the price would have been but for the error. (37 Comp. Gen. 706, 707 (1958); Hamilton, supra, 1046, citing Bromley Contracting Co. v. United States, 596 F.2d 448 (Ct.Cl. 1979); and Chernick, supra. In Ruggiero v. United States, 190 Ct.Cl. 327, 420 F.2d 709 (1970), the Court at 715 and 716 said: . . . As we pointed out in Chernick v. United States, 372 F.2d 492, 178 Ct.Cl. 498 (1967), what we are really concerned with is the overreaching of a contractor by a contracting officer when the latter has the knowledge, actual or imputed as something he ought to know, that the bid is based on or embodies a disastrous mistake and accepts the bid in face of that knowledge. The correction of the mistake, perhaps in the teeth of general conditions or specifications, by recision or reformation, represents an application of equitable principles in a legal action. The mistake, to invoke such principles, must be, as in the cases cited, a clear cut clerical or arithmetical error, or misreading of specifications, and the authorities cited do not extend to mistakes of judgment. . . . 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). The law of mistaken bids is made for those mistakes, among others, which are perfectly inexplicable. Anyone who has ever turned into a street in face of a sign that clearly said 'one way, do not enter' and tried to explain his action to a policeman, will have a fellow feeling for [a mistaken contractor]. The policeman, of course, thinks it is natural iniquity, as the contracting officer, and GAO thought here, but the rest of us know better. Public policy may require that the erring driver be treated as if he were iniquitous, but its command here is to the contrary. If persons seeking to do business with the Government are decently treated by it, there will be more of them and they will offer more favorable terms, while experiences such as [plaintiffs] have undergone, will, if common, cause many to take their business elsewhere. Decision. While we are in general agreement with the respondent that the specifications merely spell out the Government's requirements and not the method by which they are to be achieved, we believe the specifications are drafted in such a way as to be susceptible to the reading given them by appellant and thus to result in substantial underbidding by those in error of the true technical requirements of the contract. We believe that appellant's statement in Exhibit 21 (Mr. Schultz's affidavit of February 9, 1984), that "we felt ink on press, pressures and press manipulation would suffice on the uncoated sheet" was an explanation of its reading of the specifications to require only one set of separations rather than an admission of a mistake in judgment as to the method to be used in producing the product. Moreover, we believe the very fact of having the job displayed and Mr. Lee's testimony as to his conversation with Mr. Findlay, establishes the Government's own concern that potential bidders might not realize the necessity for double the number of color separations. In addition, while comprehending the Government's reluctance to tell a contractor how to perform, we nevertheless hold that when the Government itself believes that suitable performance can only be achieved by doing double separations as the Government does in this case, there is an affirmative duty upon the Government to so notify bidders. Even if the Government were to claim it was unaware of this limitation in method of performance at the time of the initial bid, it certainly became aware of this limitation during the claim of mistake by Gateway. Indeed, the Contracting Officer relied upon the judgment of respondent's Quality Control Section (Exhibit 5) "that the lithos must be printed l-up in order to get the required quality"; i.e., the job could be produced satisfactorily only by doubling the number of separations to find that Gateway had substantiated its mistake. We believe that at the time the Contracting Officer asked the appellant to review and confirm its bid, it was aware of the problem with the specification encountered by Gateway. We also believe that although Gateway's corrected bid was close to the appellant's, that the Contracting Officer still had a duty to disclose to appellant as much information as he had in his possession at that time when he asked him to review and confirm his bid. The Contracting Officer believed there was a possible mistake in bid because appellant's bid was some 55 percent or $92,056.60 below Peake's bid and apparently disclosed that discrepancy, but gave no other indication of why the bid might be in error. The Government's witness says he could not discern the nature of the error from the way the bid was required to be made. That may well be the case. However, where one contractor has misread the intentions of the specifications to permit production by using only one set of lithographs and the Government has itself determined that two sets are necessary, and the specifications are ambiguous in such regard we believe the Government has an affirmative duty to spell out the limitation or method of production in unequivocal terms; i.e., by saying in plain English, 24 color separations rather than by merely pointing out problems in dot gain and two types of stock. Thus, we believe the facts prove the existence of mistake; that the mistake was not one of judgment but of misreading the specifications; that the Government shared in the mistake; and that the appellant has shown by clear and convincing evidence what its price would have been but for the mistake. In this regard, we believe the case comports with the holding in Hamilton, supra, as to the lack of adequacy of the Government's verification of appellant's bid while at the same time being distinguishable on its facts from Hamilton, supra, with respect to the question of whether the mistake was an error in bid or one of judgment. Accordingly, we find in favor of appellant with respect to its claim of mistake in bid, but in so doing remand the case to the Contracting Officer for determination by audit and negotiation of a reasonable settlement of the claim based on costs actually incurred and a fair margin of profit. If the parties are unable to agree on the proper quantum, the matter may be petitioned back to this Board for final determination.