Federal Government Contract Process -- How to Process a Claim

When looking at the government contract process for submitting claims, or you decide to file claims against the federal government, there are certain best practices and approaches that you must adhere to.

Failure to follow them can tempt the Contracting Officer (CO) to try to negotiate the actual amount downwards or it can cost significantly delay the payment process.

Contract Disputes Act Governs the Federal Government Contract Process

Your approaches to the government contract process and how to process a claim must mirror the statutory guidance of the Contract Disputes Act. Otherwise, you can spend thousands of dollars trying to litigate procedural issues and not even get to the merits of the claim itself.

How to Process a Claim

First Approach: Understanding the direct obligations under your contract terms is critical.  This is because you know when the government is directing you to do something that is not within the contract itself. Direction to divert away from contract requirements drives how to initiate a claim to to contracting officer.

You must alert the contracting officer immediately. Please do so in writing.

  • Alert the CO of the need for the change and that you will be submitting a claim for the change
  • Request a confirmation to proceed with the change
  • Give details as to why the new work constitutes a change for the original statement of work
  • Never proceed by direction on the contracting officer representative

Second Approach: Always document costs that are relevant to your claim. Although the law does not require exact support, your best bet is to keep records, invoices and accounting for labor hours. Failure to meet this critical step in the government contract process will most likely result in the CO asking for more information and ultimately delaying payment. This can hurt your business operations.

Failure to meet this critical step in the government contract process will most likely result in the CO asking for more information and ultimately delaying payment. This can hurt your business operations.

  • Track subcontractor invoices and hours
  • Have your Project Manager to document all steps in fulfilling the changes
  • Keep all documentation in a safe place

Third Approach: When trying to process claims, you must articulate the difference in work done and why it is different from the original statement of work. This is especially important for

This is especially important for government construction claims. You are actually building a record in the event that your claim is denied and you have to appeal. You cannot introduce new evidence on appeal.

  • Discuss the deviation or addition to the specific section in the original statement of work and why the work was necessary
  • discuss what materials were used and the amount of man-hours
  • You must give more facts and support than too little
  • Request a written modification to the contract

Fourth Approach to the Government Contract Claim Process

This step in the claim process is a must. When you submit a contract claim, it must be in writing and you must state a specific dollar amount. You must also ensure that you submit the claim to the CO and not his or her representative.

You must also state in the subject line “Claim for Contract # XXXX. You must request the Contracting Officer’s final decision. Finally, you must certify claims that are over $100,000.00. See FAR 33 for more direction.

Fifth Approach to the Government Contracts Claim Process

When you process claims to the federal government, you must be aware of what constitutes a Contracting Officer’s final decision. If you are unsure, then you should seriously consider seeking advice from a government contracts claim lawyer because these mistakes are litigated in court every day. Thus, wasting thousands of dollars in litigation costs. Here are a few tips for the government contract process.

  • The CO repeatedly asking for additional information is not a final determination
  • The denial should be very clear and also state your appeal rights. If unsure, then ask.
  • The CO’s attempt to negotiate an amount that you don’t like is not a final decision
  • If the CO does not give a final decision within 60 days, government contract law deems it as a denial and you can proceed with an appeal

Learn About More Critical Contract Claims and CDA Topics

If your currently experiencing difficulty in getting paid or need help with with the federal government contracts claims process, call us at 1-866-601-5518 to speak to an attorney.

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