Is A Lease A CDA “Contract?” Federal Circuit Says Yes

Although a lease may be a “contract” in common parlance, does a lease qualify as a contract under the Contract Disputes Act?

The answer is important, because the Contract Disputes Act provides jurisdiction for the Court of Federal Claims and Board of Contract Appeals to decide challenges to contracting officers’ final decisions.  If a lease isn’t a contract under the Contract Disputes Act, government lessors could be in a bind.

The United States Court of Federal Claims recently decided the issue–and came down on the side of lessors, at least under the facts at hand.

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No Protest Of Terminated Task Order, Court Says

A contractor could not file a valid bid protest challenging an agency’s decision to terminate the contractor’s task order, according to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

In a recent decision, the Court agreed with the GAO, which also held that the contractor’s challenge involved a matter of contract administration–something outside the bid protest process.

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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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ASBCA Orders Agency To Speed Up Claim Decisions

The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals can order an agency to “speed up” its decision on a certified claim if the contracting officer’s anticipated time frame is unreasonably slow.

In a recent case, the ASBCA ordered a contracting officer to issue a decision approximately eight weeks earlier than the contracting officer planned to do so. The ASBCA’s decision highlights a little-known provision of the Contract Disputes Act, which entitles a contractor to request that an appropriate tribunal order an agency to hasten its decision on a claim.

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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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Ordinary, Undisputed Invoices Are Not “Claims”

For an invoice to be considered a claim under the Contract Disputes Act, thereby giving the U.S. Court of Federal Claims jurisdiction to consider an appeal of the government’s failure to pay, the contractor must establish that the invoice was in dispute at the time it was submitted to the government.

As demonstrated in a recent Court decision, ordinary, undisputed invoices are not “claims” under the Contract Disputes Act.

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Contracting Officer’s Death Didn’t Waive Claim Requirement

A Contracting Officer’s death did not waive the requirement that a contractor file a claim with the agency before bringing its claim to federal court.

In a recent decision, the Court of Federal Claims held that a contractor was not entitled to forego the claim requirement because of the Contracting Officer’s death–even though the agency did not appoint a replacement.

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