Contract changes, particularly in the construction context, can be flash points for the Government and a contractor. In some cases, the Government will assert that the contract requires the contractor to perform certain work; the contractor, pointing to the same (or another) contractual provision, will argue that the contract does not require it.
These diverging positions can sometimes lead to contentious litigation.
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.
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.
Federal construction contracts incorporate the FAR’s payment and performance bonding requirements as a matter of law, even if the solicitation omits these bonding provisions.
In a recent Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals decision, K-Con, Inc., ASBCA Nos. 60686, 60687 (2017), a contractor ran headlong into construction bonding issues when the Army demanded payment and performance bonding for two of its construction contracts despite there being no bonding requirements in either of the contracts. According to the ASBCA, the bonds were required anyway.
A contractor’s claim against the Government was invalid because the contractor did not demand a “sum certain” in clear and unequivocal terms.
In a recent decision, the Postal Service Board of Contract Appeals held that a contractor’s claim was deficient where the contractor argued that it was up to the government to figure out the amount of the claim using “simple mathematics.”