Release of Claims Can’t Be Undone by Refusing Government Payment

I recall sitting in a mediation one day when the mediator, a judge, told me and my client that we all have lightning in our fingers. He went on to explain that this means, once you sign a contract, it’s like magic in the sense that you can’t get out of the contract and are bound by it, absent certain exceptional circumstances.

I was reminded of this concept while reading a recent opinion from the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals that dealt with the effect of a contractor signing a release with the government and then trying to back out of that release by refusing payment from the government.

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GovConVoices: Prime Management Of Subcontracts: Will ASBCA Decision Affect DCAA’s “Obsession”?

The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals recently dismissed a government claim that Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems, Inc. (LMIS), failed to comply with its prime contract terms by not adequately managing its subcontractors and therefore all subcontract costs (more than $100MM) were unallowable.

Although the government claim was directed at a large contractor, some of the amount in question, presumably, included invoiced amounts by small business subcontractors.  At least by implication, had the government prevailed, it could have resulted in requirements for prime contractors to become far more demanding and intrusive in terms of subcontractor documentation and/or access to subcontractor records.

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ASBCA: No Valid Claim Certification Where “Signature” Was Typewritten

A contractor did not file a proper certified claim because the purported “signature” on the mandatory certification was typewritten in Lucinda Handwriting font.

A recent decision of the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals highlights the importance of providing a fully-compliant certification in connection with all claims over $100,000–which includes, according to the ASBCA, the requirement for a verifiable signature.

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Government Must Prove Amount Of Unilateral Price Reduction

While an agency may require a unilateral reduction in a contractor’s price due to a reduced scope of work, the government carries the burden of proving the amount.

In a recent decision, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals held that while an agency was entitled to unilaterally reduce the scope of work, the agency had not proven the amount of the unilateral deduction it demanded–and the government’s failure to meet its burden of proof entitled the contractor to the remaining contract price.

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Nonmanufacturer Rule Violation Leads To Default Termination

A procuring agency appropriately terminated a small business set-aside contract for default when the SBA determined, after contract award, that the prime contractor was not complying with the nonmanufacturer rule.

A recent decision of the Armed Service Board of Contract Appeals involved a very interesting factual situation, in which the small business in question told the SBA that it planned to perform the contract in compliance with the nonmanufacturer rule, but then failed to do so.  This failure, according to the ASBCA, justified a default termination.

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ASBCA: No Valid Subcontractor Claim Against Government

I sometimes suggest that a government subcontract include a so-called “pass-through” dispute resolution provision, in which the prime contractor agrees to sponsor its subcontractor’s claims against the government.  A recent Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals case demonstrates why pass-through provisions can be so important.

In its decision, the ASBCA held that a subcontractor lacked a valid claim against the government–and therefore, had no ability to pursue relief at the ASBCA.

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ASBCA: Contractor’s Request For Cancellation Was Not A Default

A contractor’s request that the agency issue a “no-cost” cancellation of its contract was not a default–and did not justify the government’s default termination of the contract.

In a recent decision, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals held that a contractor did not repudiate its contract by requesting a cancellation because the contractor’s request was not a “positive, definite, unconditional, and unequivocal refusal to perform.”

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