If you have performed work for the federal government and looking into the contract claim certification process, there are some basic things you should know. Failure to take the government claims process and contractor certification requirements seriously can cost you thousands, or even millions in amounts that should be paid.
- The courts take the government contract claims process and certification requirements very seriously.
When it comes to government contract claims, the contracting agency’s policy is to try to resolve all contractual issues in dispute by mutual agreement at the contracting officer’s level. The federal government should reasonable efforts to resolve disputes before the submission of a contract claim.
To make the government contracting process easier for you; you should always communicate with the agency early in the process.
- Tell the contracting officer about the changes in scope, or explain why should anticipate a claim.
- Elect to have some level of communication in writing, even by email or fax.
- You may need this later if you appeal the contracting officer’s final decision.
Government Claims & FAR Certification Process
The Contract Disputes Act of 1978, as amended (41 USC 601-613) (the Act), establishes procedures and requirements for preparing, filing and resolving government claims subject to the Act. The bottom line is that your claim must be related to a contract.
- If there is no contract then no claim.
- You should be a party to the contract legally become part of the contract claims process.
Initiating government claims Under 41 USC 601-613
- To meet all required contractor certification requirements, all government claims must be submitted, in writing, to the contracting officer for a decision within six years after accrual of a claim, unless the contracting parties agreed to a shorter period.
- This 6-year statute of limitation does not apply to contracts awarded before October 1, 1995. The contracting officer shall document the contract file with evidence of the date of receipt of any government claims submission from the contractor deemed to be a claim by the contracting officer.
- The government claims process requires the contracting officer to issue a written decision on any Government claim initiated against a contractor within six years after accrual of the claim unless the contracting parties agreed to a shorter period.
- The 6-year statute of limitation does not apply to contracts awarded before October 1, 1995, or to a Government claim based on a contractor claim involving fraud.
A critical part of the contract claim process, one often missed by contractors, or their corporate attorneys, is the CDA has a specific claim certification requirement. Government contracting certification apply to claim or disputes exceeding $100,000.
Contractor certification does not apply to issues in controversy (still not resolved or still in dispute) that have not been submitted as all or part of a claim.
Contractor claim certification shall state as follows:
I certify that the claim is made in good faith; that the supporting data are accurate and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief; that the amount requested accurately reflects the contract adjustment for which the contractor believes the Government is liable; and that I am duly authorized to certify the claim on behalf of the contractor.
Who can certify government claims?
Government claims process and government FAR certification rules suggest that the required certification can be done by any person duly authorized to bind your company on the claim.
What happens if the claim does not follow certification rules? In you do not get it right the first time; a defective certification shall stop the court from having jurisdiction to hear the claim on appeal. However, you can save thousands in attorney fees during an appeal by getting it right the first time.
The government claims and FAR certification process suggests that the court can hear the appeal so long as the defective certification is corrected before entry of final judgment.
Be Careful of Suspected Fraudulent Government Claims: One of the biggest mistakes made by government contractors during the government claims process is not fully to develop their facts and support at the beginning of the submission process.
If the contracting officer suspects that the unsupported claim is based upon misrepresentation, then, the contracting officer shall refer the matter to the agency official responsible for investigating fraud.
- You want to avoid fraud investigations at all cost;
- Make sure that you understand the entire government contract claim process before submitting your paperwork
When Must the Government Agency Respond to Your Claim? The contracting officer’s final decision is critical to taking the next step. If there is no contracting officer’s final decision, then the appeals court does not having jurisdiction to hear even your case.
- You should always request the decision in your claim
- The contracting officer must provide you with a copy of the decision by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by any other method that provides evidence of receipt.
This requirement applies to all decisions on government claims initiated by or against you the following timeliness apply:
- For claims of $100,000 or less, 60 days after receiving a written request from the contractor that a decision is rendered within that period, or within a reasonable time after receipt of the claim if the contractor does not make such a request.
- For claims over $100,000, 60 days after receiving a certified claim; provided, however, that if a decision is not issued within 60 days, the contracting officer shall notify the contractor, within that period, of the time within which a decision will be issued.
Contract Appeal Process for Government Claims
After the contracting officer issues a final determination, government contract claims process and procedure require you to give notice of appeal to the agency. You should seek the advice of a government contract claims and dispute attorney for specific guidance.
After the appeal is filed, the agency must provide the contract file and record to you and the court. There may be a motion filed to dismiss the appeal or other types of request from the agency in an attempt to get rid of your case.
- Understand that there are complex rules that govern the contract claims and appeal process
- You generally cannot introduce new evidence on appeal
For additional help with the federal contract claims process and government FAR certification requirements, call an attorney at 1-866-601-5518.