Landmark ASBCA Decision Means Government Can be Bound to Commercial Computer Software Licenses It Hasn’t Even Seen

The FAR generally favors the Government clients’ entitlement to data and software rights in federal procurements. This has commonly—and understandably—led to disgruntled contractors who didn’t realize what they were truly giving up when they opted to use their own software in performance of contracts without including regulation-compliant markings and protections.

But recently—thanks to a first-of-its-kind decision by the ASBCA—it seems the tide may have turned in favor of protecting these contractor-inventors from the standard Government windfall in its data rights acquisitions.  Let’s take a closer look.

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CBCA Rules that Claims Discovered During Appeal Were Not Time-Barred

The Contract Disputes Act requires a contractor to present a claim to the contracting officer “within 6 years after the accrual of the claim.” 41 U.S.C. 7103(a)(4)(A). But a claim doesn’t typically accrue until the contractor should have known that it was damaged by the Government.

As discussed below, some legal claims might not arise until a contractor takes discovery in an appeal already before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals.

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COFC Dismisses Claim for Failure to State Dollar Amount, Despite Claimant’s Attempt to Camouflage Claim

A government contractor must include certain details in a certified claim, including a sum certain, signature, and a request for a final decision. With regards to the “sum certain,” a contractor cannot avoid this requirement by attempting to portray its claim as one not for monetary relief, when the contractor is really just asking for money.

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Don’t File an Appeal with CBCA Before Filing a Claim with the Contracting Officer

Let’s suppose that, under your contract, an agency hasn’t properly paid for your work. Or the agency took actions that caused you damages. Can you run off to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals to register your complaint and recovery your money?

Yes . . . if you’ve taken an important preliminary step: filing a claim with the contracting officer.

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Realities of Cost Recovery in the Wake of the Federal Shutdown

Shuttering of the government (or parts of the government) following appropriations lapses has become an increasingly common phenomenon in recent years. Funding lapses interrupt the usual predictability of government operations, which is often to the detriment of both agencies and federal contractors that are left in proverbial limbo with stop work orders.

Unfortunately, unlike many other topics, the FAR does not substantively address procedures for contractors during or following a government shutdown. As such, recovering expenses incurred as a consequence of government shutdowns can be challenging.

Here are some pointers.

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ASBCA: Claim Must Include Request for “Final Decision”

As readers of this blog might know, the government contracts claims process is set by statute and includes a number of requirements, such as being certified if the dollar amount is over $100,000.

But a possibly lesser-known requirement is that, in order to be valid, a claim must request that the contracting officer issue a “final decision” on the claim. In a recent decision, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals opined on this requirement.

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New Rule Changes Bring CBCA Procedures Into the Efiling Age

On August 17, 2018, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) issued new procedural rules which go into effect Monday, September 17, 2018. The substantial overhaul of the former rules intends to bring the CBCA into the 21st century by emphasizing, adding, and clarifying rules about electronic filing.

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