A contractor was awarded more than $31,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs after a government agency unjustifiably refused to pay the contractor’s $6,000 claim–forcing the contractor to go through lengthy legal processes to get reimbursed.
A recent decision of the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals is a cautionary tale for government contracting officials, a few of whom seem inclined to play hardball with low-dollar claims, even when those claims are entirely justified.
A procuring agency’s conduct in the course of evaluating proposals–and defending itself in four subsequent bid protests–was an “egregious example of intransigence and deception,” according to the Court of Federal Claims.
In a recent decision, Judge Eric Bruggink didn’t hold mince words, using terms like “agency misconduct,” “untruthful,” and “lack of commitment to the integrity of the process,” among other none-too-subtle phrases, to describe the actions of the Department of Health and Human Services. But Judge Bruggink’s decision is striking not only for its wording, but because it demonstrates the importance of good faith bid protests to the fairness of the procurement process, in a case where HHS unfairly sought to “pad the record” in support of a favored bidder–and would have gotten away with it were it not for the diligent efforts of the protester.
A service-disabled veteran-owned small business was awarded its attorneys’ fees for successfully appealing the SBA’s decision that the company was not an eligible SDVOSB.
In what seems to be the first decision of its kind, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals held that the prevailing party in a SDVOSB appeal may be entitled to recover attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act.