Introduction 

Congress enacted the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (CDA)[1] to “provide a fair, balanced, and comprehensive statutory system of legal and administrative remedies in resolving government contract claims.”[2]  But for many involved in public construction projects, the CDA does not always feel like a fair or comprehensive scheme for resolving disputes caused by the acts or omissions of the Government.  In particular, subcontractors and suppliers are barred by principles of sovereign immunity from suing procuring agencies directly where Government representatives impact, delay, or increase the cost of the work.[3]  Because subcontractors and suppliers lack privity with the agency, their recourse for Government interference is limited to “pass-through” or “sponsored” claims, which hinge on the general contractor’s willingness to take up the torch on their behalf.[4] 
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President Trump continues to push forward with his “Buy American, Hire American” initiative with the issuance of his third Executive Order No. 13881 (the “Order”) on July 15, 2019, entitled “Maximizing Use of American-Made Goods, Products, and Materials.” This Order attempts to strengthen the standards that federal agencies must follow under the Buy American Act (“BAA”) by raising the threshold for domestic purchasing requirements.
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Congress enacted the Buy American Act (“BAA”) during the Great Depression, in order to protect American industry from foreign competition on federal procurement contracts. While the BAA is simplistic in its policy goal of promoting domestic purchasing, government contractors and subcontractors are often faced with complex and confusing rules for compliance.
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On April 25 and 26, James Newland, partner in Seyfarth’s Construction Practice Group, will be presenting the “Changes and Claims in Government Construction Contracting” course at the Federal Publications Seminar at the Executive Conference and Training Center in Sterling, Virginia. His presentation will focus on owner changes and contractor claims in the federal government contracting

The typical government contract contains a laundry list of standard Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) or Defense Federal Regulation Acquisition Supplement (DFARS) clauses that outline the requirements for the construction or services to be provided. These clauses are either expressly stated, i.e. written out in full length in the contract, or incorporated by reference to a particular provision which the contractor must research for the specific language. But contractors beware: not all contracts are what they seem. Since 1963, courts have held that certain clauses are so integral to public procurements that they are deemed incorporated by operation of law, even if they are omitted from the contract.
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Potential Outcomes and Implications for the False Claims Act

On March 19, 2019, Seyfarth’s Anthony LaPlaca and Teddie Arnold witnessed oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court in a government contracts case that has major implications for future enforcement of the federal False Claims Act (FCA).[1] In Cochise Consultancy, the Court is asked to interpret the FCA’s statutes of limitations, which govern the time frame in which the government may initiate a civil false claim suit against a contractor.[2] While the Court will likely consider the case for several months before it issues any decision, the questions posed at oral argument seem to hint at how it will ultimately decide the issue.
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26 days and counting, the partial government shutdown has left many federal employees with an endless weekend and no paycheck. While those workers grapple with the financial hardship and uncertainty as Congress and the Administration try to reconcile their differences, contractors working under a government contract may be forced to deal with their own issues.
Government contractors may feel the impact of the shutdown in three primary ways: (1) availability of funds, (2) financing performance of the contract, and (3) handling financial responsibility for an idle workforce.


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The Contract Disputes Act presents government contractors with two venue options for appealing an adverse final decision.[1]  Within one year of receiving a denial of its claim, the contractor may appeal to the United States Court of Federal Claims (COFC) or, in the alternative, the contractor has ninety days to appeal to an administrative law judge in the appropriate agency board of contract appeals.  For defense contractors, that means the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals; and with a few exceptions, non-defense contractors may appeal to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA).[2]
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