Contractors in the COVID-19 era may be tempted to think that the Government will compensate them for increased costs caused by virus-induced shutdowns, quarantines, and the like. And this line of thought has some inherent appeal.
After all, the virus was entirely unforeseen by both parties when the contract was inked. So shouldn’t the customer–the party wanting the good or service–bear the risk of these extraordinary events?
Under some federal government contracts, the contractor is required to pay its workers a wage dictated by a wage determination issued by DOL. But what if, during contract performance, DOL raises the applicable wages? Under the FAR, contractors can recover their increased costs.
Naturally, however, contractors have to prove them.
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.
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.