In Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. v. Department of the Interior, CBCA 5168 et al. (Feb. 27, 2019), the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (“CBCA” or “Board”) recently reiterated that a contractor need not assert every conceivable legal theory of relief as soon as it encounters an unforeseen condition on a construction project. Rather, a contractor may later be able timely to assert additional claims under distinct theories based on operative facts learned during discovery. Apropos of recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, this case indicates that discovery may be the rainbow that leads a contractor to a bigger pot of gold, i.e., operative facts that permit assertion of more valuable claims based on alternative legal theories.

Continue Reading CBCA Recognizes that Discovery May Uncover New Claims

The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (“CBCA” or “Board”) recently published a decision on accrual of government claims for overpayment under the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”). In the case, United Liquid Gas Co. d/b/a United Pacific Energy v. Gen. Servs. Admin., CBCA 5846, United Pacific Energy (“UPE”) appeals a General Services Administration (“GSA”) final decision seeking overpayments arising under four task orders that were issued under UPE’s GSA schedule contract to provide propane gas.

In its motion for partial summary relief, UPE argued that GSA’s claims for some of those overpayments were time-barred by the CDA’s six-year statute of limitations. The Board sided with UPE, finding that the discrete overpayment claims at issue in the motion accrued when the Government overpaid each corresponding invoice — each of which occurred more than six years before GSA issued its final decision. In doing so, the Board rejected GSA’s argument that the claims did not accrue until the Government issued an audit report discussing the overpayment issue, which occurred less than six years before GSA issued its final decision.

This decision is important because it adds to the limited number of opinions that the Board has published on claim accrual and reinforces established precedent. Our takeaways are below.


Continue Reading CBCA Issues Rare Decision Addressing Government Claim Accrual

On August 17, 2018, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (“Board” or “CBCA”) published in the Federal Register its amended Rules of Procedure governing appeals under the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”).  These amended rules: simplify and modernize access to the Board, clarify obligations under certain prior rules, and increase conformity between its rules and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Federal Rules”).  Furthermore, as reflected in the proposed changes issued in the Federal Register in March 2018, the amended rules are intended to “allow the Board to adopt and apply case law applying the relevant Federal Rules, as well as any future amendments to those Federal Rules, without revising the Board’s rules again.”

Our key takeaways are provided below, and a comparison of the Board’s prior and current rules can be found here.


Continue Reading CBCA Rules Overhaul Finalized: Effective September 17, 2018

[Update: The CBCA’s amended rules will become effective on September 17, 2018.  Click here for additional information and our analysis.]  

On March 28, 2018, the Federal Register published proposed changes to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals’ (“Board”) Rules of Procedure regarding appeals under the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”).  These proposed rules indicate that the Board wishes to: simplify and modernize access to the Board, clarify certain rules, and increase conformity between its rules and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Federal Rules”).  Our key takeaways are below, and a side-by-side comparison between the Board’s current and proposed rules can be found here.  Interested parties may submit comments by May 29, 2018.
Continue Reading CBCA Proposes Changes to its Rules

Over the last year, we have reported extensively on various government contract decisions regarding contract releases. In Sylvan B. Orr v. Department of Agriculture, CBCA 5299 (Sep. 29, 2017), the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (“CBCA” or “Board”) published yet another notable opinion on this topic. This decision demonstrates why it is critical to reserve your rights regarding potential claims sparked by conduct that occurs before a release of claims provision is signed—even when the additional costs at issue are not incurred until after the release is executed.

Continue Reading Left Holding the Bag: Release Provision Precludes Recovery for Costs Incurred Post-Release

In recognition of the decennial anniversary of the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (“Civilian Board”), we set out to determine notable trends in Civilian Board practice. Among other things, we identified a recent marked increase in the number of published decisions containing substantial discussions of discovery issues – more than half of the 24 decisions we identified and reviewed were issued in or after 2014. Through the publication of these decisions, the Board has provided important guidance to practitioners who may face the same (or similar) discovery issues in the future. We believe that this trend toward publication should generally result in greater predictability of outcomes in discovery disputes, and therefore should facilitate the resolution of potential discovery disputes more efficiently.

Earlier this month we published an article about this very topic in the Board of Contract Appeals Bar Journal. In our article, we focused our analysis primarily on three interesting decisions that pit statutory requirements related to the disclosure/production of information – the Privacy Act, the Inspector General Act, and the Freedom of Information Act – against the bounds of permissible discovery at the Civilian Board. These three decisions should provide a relatively high degree of outcome predictability in similar cases because of the rigid statutory requirements at issue.

In addition to the link to a PDF of the article above, the full text of the article is available below.
Continue Reading Predictability of Outcomes in Discovery Disputes at CBCA Improves During its First Ten Years

On the heels of our recent post offering key takeaways from recent release of claims decisions, the ASBCA and the CBCA have published another round of notable opinions regarding contract releases:  Supply & Service Team GmbH, ASBCA No. 59630 and ServiTodo, LLC, CBCA 5524.  Both decisions are important, albeit for different reasons.  The ASBCA decision demonstrates how a release provision in a contract modification providing an equitable adjustment can bar the government from processing an administrative offset against a contractor.  The CBCA decision illustrates the difficulties contractors face when attempting to minimize the impact of a broadly worded release of claims provision.

Continue Reading A Tale of Two Contract Releases: One for the Government, One for the Contractor

In TranBen, Ltd. v. Department of Transportation, CBCA 5448 (Jan. 26, 2017), the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (“Board”) recently applied a restrictive view of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (“IDIQ”) contract.  In its appeal seeking almost $14 million, TranBen, Ltd. (“TranBen”) alleged that the Department of Transportation (“DOT” or “Government”) breached the implied duty by misleading the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) about the availability of paper vouchers in order to receive IRS guidance allowing DOT to issue transit subsidies on debit cards, instead of vouchers, without rendering them taxable.  The Board dismissed the appeal for failure to state a claim in a troubling decision that calls into question the viability of the implied duty under an IDIQ contract where the Government satisfies its minimum ordering obligation.  At the very least, the Board’s decision indicates contractors should be even more vigilant, at the early stages of IDIQ contract formation, to ensure that their legitimate expectations are protected through express contract language. 
Continue Reading CBCA Narrows Scope of Implied Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing in IDIQ Contracts

The Civilian Board of Contract Appeal’s recent decision in Muhammad v. Department of Justice provides another example of an Agency Board of Contract Appeals requiring the Government to file the complaint instead of the contractor—a growing trend which promotes more efficient appeals by helping to ensure that contractors are provided adequate notice of the basis of a Government claim when appealing a Contracting Officer’s final decision. 
Continue Reading CBCA Orders Government to File Complaint in Contractor’s Appeal of Government Claim

Ever since the Federal Circuit held in M. Maropakis Carpentry, Inc. v. United States, 609 F.3d 1323, 1331 (Fed. Cir. 2010) that “a contractor seeking an adjustment of contract terms must meet the jurisdictional requirements and procedural prerequisites of the [Contract Disputes Act], whether asserting the claim against the government as an affirmative claim or as a defense to a government action[,]” contractors appealing a government claim or counterclaim have agonized over whether to incur the administrative burden and expense of submitting their potential defenses as a claim under the CDA or risk losing the ability to assert those defenses on appeal.  The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals’ (the “Board” or “CBCA”) recent decision in Jane Mobley Assocs., Inc. v. General Servs. Admin., offers some much needed clarity as to what types of defenses must first be raised as claims.  CBCA 2878, 2016 WL 73878 (Jan. 5, 2016).
Continue Reading Take it To the Limit: CBCA Limits Application of Maropakis Requirement to Initially Submit Certain Defenses to Government Actions as CDA Claims