When reviewing the Contract Disputes Act certification requirement for litigation and appeals, a costly mistake made by government contractors is to submit a claim against the government but do not follow the claim certification requirements of the Contract Disputes Act.
Another mistake is to file a government contract claim as part of a joint venture relationship. Courts have strict requirements when hearing appeal cases.
If you do not meet the legal requirements at the submission stage, your case can easily get dismissed, regardless of the work the government received.
Claims Contract Disputes Act Certification Requirement is Mandatory
In order for the Board of Contract Appeals to have jurisdiction of a Contract Disputes Act claim of more than $100,000 under the Contracts Disputes Act, you must certify that:
- the claim is made in good faith;
- the supporting data are accurate and complete to the best of the contractor’s knowledge and belief; .
- the amount requested accurately reflects the contract adjustment for which the contractor believes the Federal
- Government is liable; and the certifier is authorized to certify the claim on behalf of the contractor.
Does the Agency Have to Give You a Break for Failure to Meet Certification Requirements?
The ultimate question sometimes if whether the government actually notified you up from that you claim did not meet the Contract Disputes Act certification requirement. Although, you may think this is questionable before the court, the real question is whether the ASBCA or Court of Federal Claims has jurisdiction to hear your case on appeal.
- The Agency does not have the authority to change the statutory requirements.
- The CO can simply deny the claim on the merits of the claim itself but may not tell you that you did not meet the certification requirements.
If you fail to meet the Contract Disputes Act certification requirement, the government may not always educate you about the rule.
Despite knowing that you completed the work, the Contracting Officer will sometimes deny the claim or payment of your invoice and ask the appeals court to dismiss the case.
No Leniency for Contingency and Overseas Contract Disputes Act Claims
For construction companies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ASBCA has denied claims for lack of jurisdiction. See Appeal of New Iraq Ahd Company.
Unfamiliarity with government contract claims and Contract Disputes Act certification requirement and legal rules can be very costly.
Contract Disputes Act Claims Court Jurisdiction Requirements on Appeal
First, the Contract Disputes Act only applies to express or implied contracts made by an executive agency of the government. 41 U.S.C. § 7102(a). Thus, the Board of Contract Appeals only entertains appeals under the CDA involving contracts entered into by executive agencies.
Second, the Contract Disputes Act certification imposes specific legal prerequisites to pursuing an appeal. In the case of a government contract claim, the contracting officer must have issued a written decision “against a contractor on a contract.” 41 USC 7103(a)(3). A contractor may only then appeal such a decision to the Board of Contract Appeals.
Your Must be a Party to the Contract
The Contract Disputes Act defines a “contractor” to be “a party to a Federal Government contract other than the Federal Government.” 41 USC 7101 (7). The parties to a joint venture contract are the government and the joint venture entity.
If you are the business that makes up the joint venture, you simply cannot file an appeal. It will be dismissed. These are all contract law issues that can cost you thousands in litigation.
The above is a jurisdictional prerequisite for government contract claims exceeding $100,000. A defective Contract Disputes Act certification does not deprive the Board of Contract Appeals of jurisdiction; however, the complete absence of a certification is not a jurisdictional defect that can be corrected after an appeal has been filed.
Have You Met the Definition of a CDA Claim?
The Contract Disputes Act certification requirement does not define the term “claim.” However, your contract incorporates by reference the Disputes clause which defines a claim as “ a written demand or written assertion by one of the contracting parties seeking, as a matter of right, the payment of money in a sum certain.
However, a written demand or written assertion by the Contractor seeking the payment of money exceeding $100,000 does not meet the Contract Disputes Act Certification requirement until certified.
- An email to the contracting officer can be seen as a written demand for payment, as a matter of right, to the government for costs incurred in performing the contract.
- If you fail to meet the requirements, then you will have problems on appeal because of lack the Contract Disputes Act certification requirement.
For help meeting the Contract Disputes Act certification requirement or filing an appeal, contact the contract claims attorneys at Watson & Associates by calling 1-866-601-5518.