Contractor’s Lackadaisical Proposal Preparation Sinks Its Claim for Costs

To federal construction contractors, the true legwork may seem to begin only after the government has accepted a proposal and performance has begun. However, a recent Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals decision reinforces that federal construction contractors’ work often should begin long before contract award.

In Zafer Construction Company, ASBCA No. 56769 (2017), the ASBCA rejected a construction contractor’s allegations of unilateral mistake, unconscionability, and differing site conditions (among other claims for additional costs). The problem? The contractor did not attend a government scheduled site visit, conduct an independent site visit, review technical drawings, submit any inquiries during the proposal stage, or otherwise take reasonable steps necessary to better ascertain the nature of the work prior to submitting a multimillion dollar proposal on a complex project.

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Agency Erred By Not Clarifying Clerical Error, Says Federal Court

A procuring agency erred by failing to seek clarification of an obvious clerical error in a small business’s proposal, according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

In BCPeabody Construction Services, Inc., No. 13-378C (2013), the Court held that although procuring agencies have discretion as to whether to clarify clerical mistakes, that discretion is not unlimited–and that failing to clarify an obvious mistake may be an abuse of discretion.  It’s a ruling that should be cheered by small government contractors.

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