Solicitation for Plugs and Terminals Used in Casualty Power Systems on LHA-1 Vessels for the Navy

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-11-16.

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


h       Dear Senator         Brooke :
Y---            As you requested    on July 29, 1971, we have reviewed                           the
    I         tions raised by Dorn Equipment Corp. concerning        a
    d”--,       by Litton   Ship Systems, Inc.,  for plugs and termi
            used in casualty      power systems on LHA-1 .v
        Navy.      Casualty  systems permit use of alternate  electric                           power
        sources when a ship has been damaged.,
               Porn stated      that the solicitation        called    for items for
        which there were no approved plans or specifications                     and that
        the specifications          contained    in Litton’s    request    for proposals
        were preferential         to Lockheed.      In subsequent      discussions     Born
        stated   that the specifications           were inadequate       to permit   re-
        sponsive    competitive       proposals.
    3             At the time of our review,               the Navy had not approved the                    ’
          plans or specifications             for the components of the casualty
          power system in the Litton               re~~~~~-~~jsr,.,proposals.            The Navy
          contract      with Litton       for the LHA programoontains                  performance-
         ??~p~?pecifications             and does not require             conformance       with
          existing      Navy-approved        specifications           or drawings.        This con-
          tractual      arrangement       is intended        to let the contractor             make
          improvements        so that the LHAs will             incorporate       the latest
          state-of-the-art          features.
                  Lockheed’was       not one of nine firms to whom Litton                      sent re-
          quests for .foposals            on the casualty          system items, nor did
          Lockheed subTn it a proposal             on the items*            Because three of the
          four suppliers         that responded to the proposal                  offered     items
          along the lines specified              by Litton,         it appears that the pro-
          posal specifications            were adequate for competitive                  response.
          Although      no award had been made at the time of our review,                             the
          Navy informed        us that it would not approve a subcontract                         for
          any item of a proprietary              ‘nature or one for which it would not
          acquire      design rights        and detailed         specifications        suitable       for
          direct     competitive       procurement       by the Navy.           The Navy’s rights
          to design appear to be adequately                    protected      by the terms of
          the Navy contract           with Litton.
                Navy    officials   informed us that the casualty  power                       system
         presently      in use was a Navy design which had had little                          im-
         provement      since World War II, that they had been aware                          of prob-
         lems with      this sys.tem for some years,   and that the Navy                       would
                                     50 TH ANNIVERSARY        1921 - 1971

      have undertaken improvements  or a new design by in-house                     ef-
      forts long ago except for lack of manpower and funds.
              In using the present         system, each of three cable conduc-
      tors must be connected           separately.      The end of each conductor
      is inserted       in the receptacle        and fastened     by tightening     a set
      screw with a special          tool mounted in a rack near the terminal.
      Polarization        (proper phase connection)          is accomplished     by
      matching      the number of servings          or wrappings    [one, two, or
      three)     around the conductor        with the appropriate         number sf
      raised dots on the terminal.               This “braille”     phase identifica-
      tion system was designed            to permit    connection    by touch when
      visual     markings     could not be read, as the case may be in casu-
      alty situations.
             Ship Engineering             Center officials        advised us that the most
      serious     deficiency          in the present      system was the personal      haz-
      ard inherent         in handling        bare cable ends during        engagement and
      disengagement.             Although     conductors       may not normally   be ener-
      gized during         drills,      anything    could happen during an actual
      emergency.         We were told that a number of cases of shock, along
      with one fatality,              were on record from handling          this type of
      equipment.         Internal       Navy reports       list   other problbems which in-
      dicate    that the present            system is inconvenient,         time consuming,
      and subject        to misuse and damage.
+-            In 1970 the Lockheed California            Company, a division          of     . Jn
      Lockheed Aircraft        Corporation,      approached       the Navy with a pro-
      posed connector       system which Lockheed stated would reduce per-
      sonal hazards , prevent        possible      misconnections,        avoid the use
      of tools,     reduce time required         for hookup,        and prevent     damage
      to terminals       and plugs.      The system essentially           consisted     of
       (1) plugs with shielded          contacts    and a keyway to provide           posi-
      tive polarization        by a one-way insert         position     and   (2) matching
      terminal     outlets   having shielded        contacts      and captive     covers to
      protect    them when not in use.           Lockheed had made several.
      changes in its design as a result               of meetings with personnel            of
      damage control       schools,    ship design activities,            and the Naval
      Safety Center.
             The Naval Ship Engineering            Center,    which has cognizance
      over specifications,          took no action        in response to Lockheed’s
      proposal.     In April      1971, however,       the Center did offer       com-
 r’   ments to Viking       Industries,      Inc.,   which had acquired       an in-
      terest    by sublicense       in certain     detailed     features included    in

Lockheed’s design.   The Center advised Viking that the design
appeared well suited for its intended use but would require re-
duction to military  specification  format to permit competitive
procurement and to ensure interchangeability    when plugs
receptacles were made at different    times by different  manufsc-
ture rs .
      Navy officials      advised us that they would take no action
with respect to approval of a new design until specifications
in proper format were actually       submitted for that purpose.
They advised us that, as a matter of policy, the Navy would not
approve for fleet use any items of a proprietary        fl~ature~ and
they pointed out that, under the provisions       of ship construc-
tion contracts,      the Navy would acquire all necessary rights to
permit competitive      bidding for resupply and standardization      of
subcontracted parts and components.
      Regarding Litton’s    evident intention     to introduce a new
system pursuant to its performance-specification-type            contract
for the LHAs, Navy officials       pointed out that award of a sub-
contract exceeding $100,000 in total value required approval
by the administrative     contracting     officer and that the subcon-
tract for casualty power components reasonably could be ex-
pected to exceed that amount. The contracting           officer,   in
performing this task, makes a full evaluation          of the proposal
package, including    its technical aspects.        Technical approval
would require concurrence of the Ship Engineering Center,
      The contracting officer stated that the request for pro-
posals specification  had been .developed by the cognizant Litton
engineer and that it was possible that some of his ideas had
come from a Lockheed or Viking design.    The specification it-
self t however? is general and Litton has told the Navy that it
does not infrnnge upon any patents.
        The request for proposals file shows that Litton had so-
licited    bids from nine potential    suppliers,  includimg four
small businesses) but had excluded Lockheed. Responses were
received from two large and two small businesses.           As of octo-
ber 5, 1971, Litton was still       in the prscess of evaluatin
proposals s

.                 *

        . L B-173699

                      The contracting      officer    indicated          that a proposal        from
            Viking --one of the small business                bidders--considered             the use
            of five patents          under its licensing           agreement with Lockheed.
            We were told that the patents               covered small hardware items,
            such as pins and clips,             which Viking         planned to use in its de-
            sign and that no royalties              were involved            in the Viking      pro-
            posal.       Litton    planned to protect          itself        and the Government in
            the subcontract          by including      a patent        infringement       clause which
            would make the subcontractor              responsible            for any infringement
            liabilities.          The contracting       officer        indicated      that the Navy
            concurred        in the use of the clause and that two bidders                        had
            indicated        that the clause was acceptable                  to them.

                    To obtain   information     about the contract       requirements         and
            the items Litton       proposed to furnish        through   subcontract,        we
            visited    Headquarters,      Naval Ship Systems Command, Alexandria,
            Virginia;     the Naval Ship Enginee,ring         Center,   Kyattsville,
            Maryland;     and the Navy Plant Representative's            office      at Litton
            Ship Systems, Culver City,          California.       We also discussed         the
            questions     raised on the sol!icitation         with the president,         Dorn
            Equipment Corp., Melrose,          Massachusetts.
                  We are making a similar   report   to Congressman Torbert   H.
            Macdonald who also referred   this matter to us.      As you requested
            we are returning   the letter to you.     We shall be glad to discuss
            this matter with you or your staff     if you so desire.
                                                       Sincerely      yours,

                                              Deputy Comptroller  General
                                                     of the United States

            The Honorable       Edward W. Brooke
            United States       Senate