Contract Disputes Act of 1978 and Claims Against the GovernmentContractors often face harsh consequences when filing federal government Contract Disputes Act (CDA) claims. Despite getting the benefit of your work, the contracting officer (CO) will often deny your claim just because the claim itself did not meet the CDA requirements. This result can cost a company thousands or even millions of dollars. 

Every company should beware of landmines that await uninformed corporations when preparing and submitting a notice of claim. The initial process for submitting a claim is critical and is also often the subject of litigation. The initial claims process, if done correctly, preserves any jurisdictional rights for the appellate court to hear your case. 

  • If the preparation of the initial claim does not meet the strict definition of a claim, a court will dismiss your case on appeal regardless of how strong the merits are.

Contract Disputes Act of 1978 Notice of Claim Procedural Requirements

 The agency’s denial must be appealed to the Court of Federal Claims or Board of Contract Appeals only after the CO’s final decision. You must be aware, however, that there is a statute of limitations of six years to file your claim appeals case. 

  • Your notice of claim must be specific and demand a specified amount
  • With enough detail to let the CO understand the basis of the claim
  • Must have the requisite certification language

However, even if you are within the statute of limitations, the longer you wait to file your notice of claim to the government, the harder it becomes to resolve disputes because government employees retire or rotate. The Contract Disputes Act of 1978 has certain procedural prerequisites that can make or break the chances of getting approval from the government.

As a contractor, you must be aware that under FAR 52.233-1 many contractor claims cases are lost only because the company did not follow the procedural rules. 

Government Claims must legally relate to contract controversies or disputes between you and the federal government. You have to be a party to the contract (subs cannot bring claims directly against the government).  See information on  Filing a Government Contract Claim Appeal.

  • CDA claims and disputes must be directly related to the project.
  • Facts become critical when submitting government claims or payment for invoices.

Claims Certification Required For CO final Decision

The Act has a very strict application to DOD contracts. When filing Contract Dispute Act claims against the federal government, those that exceed $100,000 must include a certification statement under FAR 33.207.

  • For claims more than $100,000, the Contracting Officer is required, within 60 days, either to issue a decision or tell you when a decision will be issued.
  • If the CO does not issue a decision within 60 days, you can deem the claim as denied and proceed to the appeals level.

However, when claims against the federal government are less than $100,000, the Contracting Officer is required to issue a decision within 60 days of receipt of the claim provided you request a decision within that period.

Under the Contract Dispute Act of 1978, all CO decisions should be issued within a reasonable time, taking into account the nature of the claim.

  • If they are not, you may either ask the Contracting Officer to issue a decision within a specified time or treat the failure to issue a decision as a “deemed” denial of the claim.
  • It is essential that DOD contractors understand the necessary legal requirements under the Contract Disputes Statute.

FAR 52.233-1 Remedies For Contract Disputes Claims Against the Government: Under FAR 52.233-1, your remedy for claims against the government can include payment of money in a sum certain, adjustment or interpretation of contract terms, or other relief arising under or relating to the contract. It is important to know that a certification should still be included even if you are not asking for money. See information about CPARS claims.

You can still submit a claim for non-monetary relief on Claims under the Act. BLR Group of America, Inc. v. U.S., 84 Fed. Cl. 634 (2008). The court ruled it had jurisdiction over non-monetary claims under the Tucker Act and the Contract Dispute Act of 1978 and reviewed the contractor’s claim that it had been unfairly evaluated in a Contractor Performance Assessment Report.

When considering civil litigation, other items that can become a contract claim include:

  • Cost of your work being changed as a result of an order that may not have been identified as a change,
  • The government’s direction to amend the method of how to do the work,
  • The agency’s rejection of your previously approved instruction inspection plan,
  • Submissions based on defective specifications, and
  • Facts that show acceleration.

CDA Construction Disruption and Delay Claims

Under the Act and under FAR 52.233-1 if the government’s action cause delays or disruption, you may be able to file construction claims against the federal government. The agency has a duty of good faith and fair dealing. Therefore, you can file an appeal to the Court of Federal Claims for a denial of equitable adjustment.

How to Appeal the Contracting Officer’s Final Decision?

After you receive the contracting officer’s final decision on a Contract Disputes Act claim,  you may be able to appeal the decision to various appellate courts. For example, you can appeal the decision a final decision to the Court of Federal Claims or the respective Board of Contract Appeals. Contractors must e careful to legal assess whether the appellate court has subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. Many companies run into this confusing issue. 

  • You must file your appeal with the  ASBCA, CBCA within ninety (90) days of receipt of the contracting officer’s final decision..
  • AS a government contractor you may also file an appeal with the Court of Federal Claims within twelve (12) months of receipt of the contracting officer’s final decision.

Are Attorneys’ Fees Recoverable for a Claim under the CDA?

Generally, a contractor may not recover its attorneys’ fees incurred pursuing a claim under the CDA. The Equal Access to Justice Act allows some individuals and small businesses to recover attorneys’ fees up to $125 per hour if it is determined that the claimant is the prevailing party and the government’s position was not substantially justified. The claimant must also comply with the size standards set forth in the Act.

As you can see, there are many nuances when filing contract claims against the federal government. When a lot of money is at stake, you want to consider getting legal advice from a government contract claims lawyer. 

Speak to an Attorney & Get a Free Initial Consultation

Contact a government procurement claims lawyer at 1-866-601-5518 for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.

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