Companies file government contract claims and disputes when there is a disagreement about additional work performed and where the contractor has not been paid. Such disputes arise during a request for equitable adjustment, scope changes, Filing Government Contract Claims and Disputes Against Federal Agenciesdelays and other unexpected situations.

As a government contractor, filing claims against the federal government can be very stressful. The main reason is that the agency may now decide to deny the claim altogether or in part. The first step in being ready to file a contract claim is to understand the DO’s and Don’ts.

Written Requirement When Filing a Government Contract Claims

The Contract Disputes Act regulates the federal claims submission process.  These rules are very important because agencies will deny your claim for failure to follow the statutory requirements.

Written Claim Requirement

  • Government contract claims must be in writing.
  • It must be a written demand to the Contracting Officer for an exact amount.
  • It must also be certified.

Exact Sum

Filing a claim against the government under the CDA requires a demand for a specific dollar amount (or specific remedy you seek).


Government contract claims and disputes over $100,000.00 must be certified. If you are not familiar with the legal requirements for submitting a claim to the federal government, consider hiring a contract claims attorney.

  • Failure to properly certify contract claims can end up with a complete denial
  • If you do not certify your claim, an appellate court will lack jurisdiction to hear your appeal

Document Support

Contracting officers often deny claims for failure to offer supporting documentation. When you file government contract claims to a federal agency, always attach copies of receipts, subcontracts, leases or other supporting documents. Self-made spreadsheets can assist the CO in understanding the computation of damages. Such sheets should not substitute concrete proof.

Contract Disputes Related to Contracting Officer Representative Direction

You should never take direction from the Contracting Officer Representative (COR) to perform more work on the project. Even if there are threats of termination, ALWAYS get written confirmation from the Contracting Officer (CO). Failure to do this will severely impact your government contract claims attempt. See also REA V. Contract Disputes Act Claim Appeals –Requesting Contracting Officer’s Final Decision.

  • Only the CO can bind the federal government.

To Avoid Costly Mistakes, Get My Free Claims Checklist

Ways to Maximize Damages and Reduce Contract Disputes

As you go through the performance stage of any government contract, keep all documentation of emails, letters, faxes and meeting minutes. These can be very helpful when filing a government contract. The Contract Disputes Act controls the process for government contract claims.

Explain you reason for the claim. Most government contract claims and disputes are rejected because of inadequacy.  The first thing you should do is to make sure that the document submitted states that it is a demand for payment.

Next, government contract claims should have an introduction or background section. Here, you should describe the facts leading up to the claim.

  • Describe the agreed-upon statement of work, and
  • How this claim is separate or an addition to the original contract.

Show that you contract claim includes an additional requirement: Federal Government contract claims should be based on something that was not anticipated in the original contract.

  • Failure to distinguish this fact leaves your claim open for denial by the agency.
  • Another helpful point is that claims are allowed for situations where differing site conditions are present.

Get the Contracting Officer’s final decision. The claims process requires a contracting officer’s final decision. If you have properly submitted a CDA claim, you can assume that no response within 60 days allows you to appeal.  See information about the Prompt  Payment Act and government invoices.

Request for Equitable Adjustment.

Although a request for equitable adjustment is not considered an actual contract claim under the Contract Disputes Act, if there is a Demand for Payment Section, and Certification Clause, then courts will consider it a CDA claim.

Tips: When filing government claims, constant communication from the CO does not reach the level of a denial.

Tips: Negotiations do not rise to the level of denial. Only when you and the government have reached an impasse does the court entertain litigation. If unsure, request a final decision in writing.

Tips: You have one year after the contracting officer’s final decision to appeal government contracts claims.

For further help, call the Washington DC government contract claims attorneys at Watson & Associates, LLC.

See How We Can Help You With REA and Government Contract Claims

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