Let’s say you’re a subcontractor to a prime contractor, which holds a construction contract with the Government. And you run into problems which need to be solved by submitting a claim to the contracting officer.
But, as the subcontractor, you don’t have a contractual relationship (privity of contract, in legal speak) with the Government. Can you still submit the claim?
The Court of Federal Claims recently reversed an agency’s default termination of a contractor that had experienced numerous performance issues and delays. The agency claimed that performance was “incurably behind schedule,” despite the contractor’s proposed recovery schedule.
The court held that the agency lacked a reasonable belief that the contract could not be timely completed.
Congratulations! After a hard
bidding process, your company has earned an award. But though this award process
might’ve been long and tough, potential issues are still ahead.
In our practice, we often hear stories of soured relationships with the government during contract performance. Adverse performance issues can come at a hefty cost—in terms of money, time, and reputation.
Here are some suggestions to help guard against performance disputes with the government.
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.
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.
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.
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.