CBCA Orders a Federal Contractor to Play the “Waiting” Game

When issues arise in performance of a federal contract, a contractor may seek redress from the government by filing a claim with the contracting officer. However, commencing such a claim may result in an exercise of patience and waiting by the contractor.

The Contract Disputes Act, as a jurisdictional hurdle for claims over $100,000, requires a contractor to submit a “certified claim” to the agency. The CDA also requires the contracting officer, within sixty days of receipt of a certified claim, to issue a decision on that claim or notify the contractor of the time within which the decision will be issued.

That second part of the equation can lead to some frustration on the part of contractors. As seen in a recent Civilian Board of Contract Appeals decision, a contracting officer may, in an appropriate case, extend the ordinary 60-day time frame by several months.

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Government “Poaches” Contractor’s Employee, Then Rejects Fixed-Price Invoices

Picture this scenario: the government hires your company to do a job; you assign one of your best employees to lead the effort. He or she does such a good job that the government hires your employee away. The government then drags its feet on approving your proposed replacement and refuses to pay you for the time when the position was not staffed–even though the contract was fixed-price.

The scenario is exactly what happened to a company called Financial & Realty Services (FRS), and according to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, FRS wasn’t entitled to its entire fixed-price contract amount.

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SDVOSB Fraud: “Pass-Through” Voided Contract, Says CBCA

An SDVOSB set-aside contract was void–and unenforceable against the government–because the prime contractor had entered into an illegal “pass-through” arrangement with a non-SDVOSB subcontractor.

In a recent decision, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals held that a SDVOSB set-aside contract obtained by misrepresenting the concern’s SDVOSB status was invalid from its inception; therefore, the prime contractor had no recourse against the government when the contract was later terminated for default.

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CBCA: “Appeal” Sent To Contracting Officer Didn’t Count

A contractor’s challenge to a contracting officer’s final decision was “improperly directed” when it was sent only to the contracting officer, and did not delay the 90-day period in which the final decision could be appealed to the Civilian Board of Contracting Appeals.

As demonstrated in a recent CBCA decision, when a contractor receives a contracting officer’s final decision, the appeals clock starts ticking–and an “appeal” to the contracting officer doesn’t stop the clock.

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Reminder: Requests For Equitable Adjustment Are Not Claims

A request for equitable adjustment is not a “claim” under the FAR.  Although a REA and a claim can look very similar, there are important legal distinctions.

And as one contractor recently learned, the distinction between a REA and a claim can make all the difference when it comes to a potential appeal.

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CBCA Appeal Dismissed Because Contractor Filed By FedEx, Not USPS

As has been well-documented by news outlets, the U.S. Postal Service plans to end Saturday delivery to save money.  With the USPS facing financial and customer service struggles, it is little wonder that many government contractors rely on rival FedEx to deliver important packages.

But when it comes to filing a contract appeal with the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, contractors may want to think twice before calling FedEx.  As one unfortunate contractor recently discovered, thanks to an arcane (and in my view, unfair) provision in the CBCA’s rules, a package sent through the USPS is deemed timely filed with the CBCA on the date of its postmark, whereas a package sent by any other means–including FedEx–is not considered filed until it is actually received at the CBCA’s office in Washington, DC.

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