WASHINGTON-General Services Administration attempts to establish multiple awards for new passenger tire procurement in 1994 failed because tire makers didn't want to divulge the pricing information the government required. But this could prove a major benefit for tire dealers and smaller tire manufacturers willing to promote business with government agencies, according to the GSA's top tire procurement official.
The GSA will experiment with multiple awards for new passenger tire contracts in 1994, said Kenneth L. Collings Jr., Federal Tire Program manager at the GSA Automotive Commodity Center.
Agencies and tire suppliers alike could benefit from multiple awards, he said. Tire makers would have a better chance of supplying the government through official contracts; agencies would gain leeway in obtaining the make, size and quantity of tires needed for a specific application.
Unfortunately, the Federal Procurement Regulations require all bidders on multiple award contracts to provide the GSA with pricing information from all their most favored customers. This is to assure the government is obtaining the lowest possible price for the products. But in the case of new passenger tires, it backfired.
``We had only one bid, and we need a minimum of three to make it legal,'' Mr. Collings said. ``That cost and pricing information was something the manufacturers refused to release. If I were a tire manufacturer, I myself would have been unwilling to share it.''
Goodyear officials declined comment when asked about this issue.
The GSA hopes to persuade Federal Procurement Regulations administrators to allow some leeway in pricing information requirements for subsequent multiple tire contracts. This might take the form of requiring pricing information for only one representative customer, not all customers or the customer with the lowest price.
The agency has thrown new passenger tire purchases to the open market, with the GSA Qualified Products List as a guide.
The QPL contains all tires that have passed GSA quality testing. As of Jan. 1, 1994, government agencies other than the GSA are no longer obliged to use the QPL or any GSA schedules for procurement. But Mr. Collings believes most agencies will continue to go through the GSA, because that saves them from having to establish their own contract schedules and quality assurance programs.
With open market sales of new passenger tires, he said, 1994 will be an excellent opportunity for independent dealers to call on federal agencies in their area and set up local contracts. ``It's also an excellent opportunity for...tire makers who haven't bid on national contracts.''
For light and medium truck tires, the GSA made two separate solicitations-for new tires and retreads-in the traditional single-award format. There were 176 line items in new tires and 57 in retreads-fewer than in past years due to GSA efforts to pare line items to the most popular sizes, load ranges and classes.
As it was, 19 line items in the new truck tire solicitations had no bids; Bridgestone/Firestone got 78 awards and Goodyear 43; 36 are pending with other companies.
In retreads, Bandag Inc. again received the lion's share-47 of 57 separate categories. The remaining 10 were awarded to Goodyear. Because of an administrative error in submitting its bid, Oliver Rubber Co. was disqualified.
Since last June, the GSA has allowed passenger tire retreaders to approach government agencies directly for contracts, if they pass a QPL test using a retread as control tire. So far, Achievor Tire (formerly Lakin General Retread Division) and Oliver have qualified for this program.
But Mr. Collings said that to his knowledge, neither firm was calling on government agencies, at least on the national level, but had approached some agencies on the state and regional levels.
``Somebody's dropping the ball,'' he said. ``If passenger retreading has a chance of acceptance in federal agencies, that time is now.''
Achievor Tire President Richard Gust said his company was working with the GSA regional manager in California to supply the agency with Achievor ``remanufactured'' passenger tires through Big O Tires Inc., Achievor's West Coast distributor. Company officials also will meet with the GSA in Chicago to make arrangements for supplying that region as well.
``Our approach is to seek business where we can immediately provide service,'' he said. ``We plan to incrementally add GSA regions as it becomes feasible.''
Oliver is actively pursuing every avenue of retread procurement from the government, said Oliver Vice President Joseph Kilcoyne, but with passenger retreads there is a distribution problem.
``The major passenger retreaders...make a lot of passenger retreads and sell everything they make. But there are only a few of them throughout the U.S.; it's difficult for them to supply four tires to the Forest Service in Idaho.''
Mr. Kilcoyne said he has discussed with Mr. Collings the possibility of establishing distribution centers for passenger retreads in each GSA region. Oliver, he added, also is looking for a tire dealership with a wide distribution network that could take on the distribution of passenger retreads.