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ployees should not be required to begin travel after midnight in order to have them arrive early in the day before reporting for duty. We have said that employees are not expected to travel during normal periods of rest. 54 Comp. Gen. 1059, 1061 (1975). We also agree that, if the employees in this case had left early in the morning of the day before reporting for work, their respective arrival times late at night would not have given them a sufficient period of rest before reporting for work. The authorizing officials felt that both of these alternatives were unreasonable, and accordingly each employee was allowed to start travel a day earlier in order to permit a reasonable period of rest before reporting for duty. We conclude that the rest periods authorized for Ms. Pinette and Mr. Rhodes were within the limits of reason and not excessive. Accordingly, we would not object to the payment of per diem to both employees for the rest periods permitted at destination.
B-249049, October 20, 1992
Purchases II Propriety Where record shows that agency had an inadvertent, critical shortage of locks, but was not in a position to proceed with fully competitive award for these items, agency's utilization of small purchase procedures to make interim, emergency filler buys on an as-needed, urgency basis was not improper.
II Justification Solicitation's purchase item description identifying standard commercial lock by manufacturer part number and national stock number (NSN) is not unduly restrictive where (1) procurement is conducted under Federal Acquisition Regulation small purchase procedures; (2) offerors could readily obtain additional item information using either the listed part number or the NSN item number; and (3) solicitation permitted offers for functionally interchangeable, alternate products.
James H. Roberts III, Esq., Manatt, Phelps, Phillips & Kantor, for Safemasters Co., Inc., and Mark
John P. Patkus, Esq., Defense Logistics Agency, for the agency.
Behn Miller, Esq., Ralph O. White, Esq., and Andrew T. Pogany, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.
Mas-Hamilton Group, Inc. protests any award under request for quotations (RFQ) No. DLA500–92–Q-PD53, issued by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for combination security locks. Mas-Hamilton contends that DLA improperly issued the solicitation under the small purchase procedures, and that the RFQ's purchase item description unduly restricts competition. We deny the protest.
Background This protest although nominally about an RFQ for a purchase of combination security locks-raises questions about a number of DLA procurements for the locks used on file cabinets reserved for safeguarding sensitive and classified government records throughout the Department of Defense (DOD). Specifically, the RFQ here, issued June 1, 1992, for 337 Sargent & Greenleaf (S&G) combination security locks, is the seventh in a series of small purchasesi.e., less than $25,000—for DLA's combination lock needs. While DLA explains that the purchases have been necessary to meet its needs during a period when it has been unable to complete a full competition, Mas-Hamilton argues that DLA is repeatedly using small purchase procedures to avoid specifications that would otherwise be mandatory for a fully competitive procurement, and to restrict competition to one manufacturer's lock.
DLA's Earlier Efforts to Procure Locks In early 1990, DLA recognized that its inventory of combination security locks had fallen to the point where future orders could result in serious shortfalls. As a result, on May 14, 1990, DLA issued request for proposals (RFP) No. DLA500-90-R-0329 (“the 1990 RFP”) for a "primary quantity” of 4,900 mechanical combination security locks.1 The 1990 RFP set forth the full text of Military Specification MIL-L-15596G which requires all commercially available mechanical combination security locks procured by DOD to meet testing requirements enumerated in the specification. In this regard, the RFP required each offeror to submit 14 locks for "bid
1 The RFP also requested offerors to provide a price for a "First Alternate Quantity” of 7,350 locks, and a "Second Alternate Quantity” of 9,800 locks. DLA explains that the primary quantity represents the agency's actual demand for locks at the time the RFQ was issued, while the first and second alternate quantity figures represent the inventory manager's estimate of possible changes in the agency's demand for locks. According to DLA, the agency intended to consider changes in inventory and then procure the quantity closest to the agency's current demand.
sample" testing. The RFP also provided that award would be made to the lowest
DOD's Directives on Combination Locks
On May 20, DOD issued a second directive modifying the earlier instruction. The May 20 directive required the purchase of combination security locks in accordance with FF-L-2740 only when the storage container for which the lock was required was produced "on or after October 1, 1991,” or where the material to be protected is classified at the level of "top secret." Upon receiving the May 20 directive, DI.A apparently decided that it should again attempt to procure locks using the MIL-L-15596G specification. On September 1, 1992, DLA issued an RFP for a large purchase of locks, using the MIL-L-15596G specification. This procurement was also protested by MasHamilton and will be considered in a separate decision.
DLA's Use of Small Purchases During the 1990 to 1992 Time Period While DLA was attempting to procure combination security locks via its 1990 RFPi.e., from early 1990 until mid-1992—the agency made a number of small purchases for mechanical combination security locks. The record shows the following purchases:
As an apparent continuation of this practice, the agency again issued an RFQ, on June 1, 1992, for 337 S&G locks. On June 12, Mas-Hamilton filed this protest against the RFQ with our Office.
In its protest, Mas-Hamilton argues that DLA is improperly dividing its requirement for combination security locks into a series of small purchases in order to avoid using federal lock specification FF-L-2740, which the protester contends is required for purchases in excess of $25,000. Mas-Hamilton also contends that the solicitation here unduly restricts competition to the S&G mechanical combination lock by not providing potential offerors with a list of the lock's salient characteristics, and by specifying a mechanical lock design, thus excluding MasHamilton's electrical lock. For the reasons explained below, we deny the protest.
Agency's Use of Small Purchase Procedures
2 In this regard, CICA provides that:
[a] proposed purchase or contract for an amount above the small purchase threshold may not be divided into several purchases or contracts for lesser amounts in order to use the small purchase procedures . See 10 U.S.C. § 2304(g)(3) (Supp. III 1991). 3 FAR $ 10.006(a) provides that all federal and military specifications—such as FF-L-2740—“are mandatory for use by all agencies acquiring supplies or services covered by such specifications and standards”; however, FAR § 10.006(a)(2) specifically exempts small purchases from such specifications. 4 For example, as evidence of this, DLA states that when it decided to issue the 1990 RFP for its lock requirement, agency personnel also decided to use the small purchase procedures to make emergency filler buys on an asneeded basis until an award could be made under the full and open procurement. Subsequently, at DLA staff meetings held on January 3, 1991 and January 22, 1992—which the record shows were immediately convened after NCEL informed DLA of various MIL-L-15596G lock sample testing failures—the DLA staff discussed and decided to continue making small purchase buys for urgent customer orders as necessary.