Preparing Contract Claims

Fortunately most government contracts are performed without the need for filing a claim.  However, at times it is necessary for a government contractor to file a claim against the agency in order to assert the contractor’s rights, which may include claims for things such as the payment of money by the agency or an increase in the period of performance.  The Whay Law Firm regularly assists clients with preparing claims for submission to the contracting officer.  Please contact us if we can be of assistance.

The following is a basic overview of the claims process:

Most government contracts are subject to the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (“CDA”).  The CDA provides the general requirements for filing a claim against the agency.  A claim must be submitted in writing to the cognizant contracting officer.   The claim must be submitted as a matter of right, and demand a sum certain (i.e. the dollar amount being claimed) or the adjustment/interpretation of contract terms.  The claim should include sufficient

The claim must be submitted to the contracting officer within 6 years of the accrual of the claim.  Determining when a claim accrues and the statute of limitation starts ticking can be tricky.  FAR 33.201 provides the following definition:

the date when all events, that fix the alleged liability of either the Government or the contractor and permit assertion of the claim, were known or should have been known. For liability to be fixed, some injury must have occurred. However, monetary damages need not have been incurred.

Although there may be valid reasons to delay filing a claim until a later date, in general, it is advisable to file a claim soon after the triggering event occurs.  This makes it easier for both parties to find relevant documents and witnesses that can remember the facts.  Additionally, quickly filing a claim may lead to a greater chance of settlement, since the agency’s liability may not have grown to an amount that would be too great to consider settlement.

A certification is required to be included with claims in excess of $100,000.  The certification must state the following:

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.

Before making the foregoing certification, the government contractor should perform adequate due diligence to ensure the claim is being made in good faith.  The government contractor may be subject to the civil and criminal penalties of the False Claims Act if it makes the certification in bad faith.

If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the denial to the appropriate Board of Contract Appeals or the Court of Federal Claims.  If successful on appeal, you may be entitled recover some or all of your legal fees.  If the claim is deemed valid, a government contractor is entitled to interest on the claimed amount from the date the contracting officer received the claim.

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