Government contracting in 1874

The United States government made treaties with American Indian nations to gain their cooperation – and their land. In return, the government agreed to give the Indians basic food and supplies. Indian Agents were responsible for delivering the goods. The Agent made a public notice of the opportunity for private individuals or businesses to sell something to the government.
          On October 1, 1874, the Colorado Weekly Chieftain (Pueblo) ran a notice from Agent Henry F. Bond at the Los Pinos Ute Agency requesting two proposals (bids) to supply: 

       Proposal #1                         Proposal #2

110,000 pounds flour              30 rifles
150,000 pounds beef          2,000 pounds lead
      600 pounds soda            700 pounds powder
     500 pounds soap              50,000 caps
   5,000 pounds bacon        5,000 cartridges
      5,000 pounds salt

          Bond specified flour “of the quality known as XX, subject to inspection, and to be put up in 100 pound sacks of strong material.” The order would be delivered half in November and half the following June. Bond specified beef as “steers between the ages of three and seven years, to be free of disease and to weigh not less than 900 pounds each.” The meat would be delivered on-the-hoof the following June.
          Bond would open the bids at the new Delmonico House in Denver at 10:00 am on October 13, 1874. At that time he would look at samples of goods to be supplied “as far as is practicable.” (No one needed to bring along a steer.)
          Letters from two responsible people “vouching for the ability and good faith” of the bidder were required with each proposal. A successful bidder was required to “post a bond with good sureties in the penal sum of double the amount of the bid.” A bond is a guarantee. Sureties agree to pay the amount of the bond if the bidder fails to deliver as promised. A good suretie might be a banker or other business person.
          A government contracting officer today uses the same basic process.

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Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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