Postal Service Contract With the Southwest Research Institute Corporation of San Antonio, Texas, for a Study of Interior Finishes Suitable for Postal Use

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-07-12.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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                           COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE             STATES
                                      WASHINGTON. D.C.   20

                                                                                  I'   '   I

     B-172134                       DOCU\ENB                               JUL 12

(,   Dear Mr.     Gross:     BSST
                               /         u                    B
          In a letter dated February 26, 1971, CongressmanlRobert J.
 '? Corbett transmitted to our Office correspondence on a Postal      /
   / Service contract with the Southwest Research Institute Corpo-   -,
  / ration of San Antonio, Texas, for a study of interior finishes
     suitable for postal use.' He requested- that we examine this
     contract and advise him of the Postal Service's reasons for
     awarding the contract to Southwest, the total cost involved,
     and the process by which Southwest was chosen.

           The House Post Office and Civil Service Committee staff
     advised us that, because of the Congressman's recent death,
     we should report on the results of our examination to your of-
     fice.   In accordance with arrangements made with the Committee
     staff, we are furnishing you with information on (1) the pro-
     cess by which Southwest was chosen to make the study, (2) how
     the Postal Service determined that Southwest was capable of
     performing the study, (3) the reasons for awarding the con-
     tract to Southwest, (4) the total costs involved, and (5) where
     and to what extent the results of the study were implemented.

          Because the records which the Postal Service furnished
     to us were not complete, we had to reconstruct, to the extent
     possible, the requested information from the available records
     and through interviews with Postal Service officials.

          In February 1967 the Postal Service's Research and Engi-
     neering Department initiated a project, estimated to cost
     $94,090, for the purpose of studying and evaluating workroom
     flooring materials; wall finishes; workroom wainscots and
     various latex, acrylic, and enamel compositions to determine/
     the most economical materials and methods of installation in
     post office buildings. The intent of the project was to in-
     vestigate all available materials and hardware which would
     have possible application to postal installations and to de-
     velop recommendations for the most efficient and economical
     interior finishes for use in post office buildings.

                               50TH ANNIVERSARY 1921-1971090                      5Y/7

     The Postal Service placed a notice in the February 14,
1967, Commerce Business Daily (a Government publication which
includes lists of proposed procurements) inviting firms in-
terested in the project to submit information on their capa-
bilities for performing the project. The records indicate
that 11 firms responded to the Commerce Business Daily notice.
The Postal Service was unable to locate the responses.

     The records indicate that the capabilities of the 11
firms, as well as two additional firms, were evaluated by the
Research and Engineering Department. The evaluation showed
that five firms had the capabilities for conducting the proi-
ect. On this basis the Research and Engineering Department
requested that the five firms submit proposals. A Postal Ser-
vice official advised us that, at the time of the evaluation,
the Research and Engineering Department did not have detailed
or elaborate evaluation and scoring techniques. Therefore we
could not determine whether the Postal Service's evaluation
of the capabilities of the various contractors was adequate
or whether Southwest was qualified to perform the contract.

     Southwest was the only firm that responded to the request
for proposals. The cost estimate submitted by Southwest was
$64,359, about $30,000 less than the Research and Engineering
Department's estimate. The files do not indicate why there
was such a large variance between the Department's estimate
and Southwest's proposal.

     Research and Engineering Department officials advised us
that they did not readvertise or negotiate with any other
firms because they had determined that Southwest was fully
responsive to the request for proposals. The officials stated
that their investigation had shown that Southwest was a highly
respected and competent organization. The records indicate
that the investigation consisted of a visit to Southwest to
evaluate the firm's facilities and personnel before the con-
tract was awarded. Documentation pertaining to the evalua-
tions made during the investigation was not available.

     A cost-plus-fixed-fee contract was awarded to Southwest
on June 30, 1967, at an estimated cost of $64,359 with a


completion date of December 31, 1968. The completion date was
extended to July 5, 1969, to permit sufficient time to conduct
an evaluation of various materials which were being tested in
several postal facilities. Research and Engineering Depart-
ment officials advised us that the original completion date
was not critical because other research and engineering proj-
ects were not dependent upon the completion of Southwest's

     Southwest issued its final report to the Postal Service
on June 20, 1969. The contract had not been closed as of May
1971 pending a final audit.

     The records indicate that Southwest completed all phase4
of the work as required. We could not determine from available
records the extent that products tested by Southwest were being
utilized by the Postal Service. Research and Engineering De-
partment officials advised us, however, that the work performed
by Southwest was satisfactory and that some of the materials
recommended for postal application were being used. For ex-
ample, the recommended carpeting has been installed in the
Cincinnati and Kansas City postal facilities and is scheduled
to be installed in the St. Louis postal facility. According
toPostal Service officials, an abrasive vinyl flooring tested
in Boston proved to be excellent and is scheduled to be in-
stalled in the Chicago and Detroit postal facilities.

     In accordance with our agreement with the Committee staff,
we have not requested the Postal Service to review or formally
comment on the information in this report.

                                 Sincerely yours,

                                 Comptroller General
                                 of the United States

The Honorable H. R. Gross
House of Representatives