Contractor-Client Receives Favorable Legal Decision for Negligent Estimate Claim Versus U.S. Army

One of the attorney-authors’ clients, a Kuwait-based contractor, recently received a favorable legal decision from the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (“Board”). The decision is posted here.

The Board’s decision denied a summary judgment motion by the United States Government (USG) which had sought to dismiss our client’s legal claim for negligent estimates. The decision allowed our client’s negligent estimate claim and our client’s own (pending) motion for summary judgment to proceed.

For contractors generally, the decision has expanded the types of contracts the Board recognizes to be subject to a negligent estimate claim. If you are a contractor to the USG and believe the USG’s estimates in your contract were unreasonable and financially harmed you, you should be aware of your legal rights. A contractor-rights attorney could review your particular situation and contract to see if a viable legal claim is available.

More information about our client’s case and decision is below.

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Where Can I Find USAID Contract and Grant Resources?

USAID announced plans to fund almost $300 million in new aid programs in Afghanistan over the next five years. This article gives readers information about how they might be eligible to participate in these and other US government programs as a grant recipient or contractor.

USAID’s website here provides a detailed review of its grant and contracting process, from project design to solicitation to award.

USAID posts its contract solicitations on the Federal Business Opportunities website, otherwise known as FedBizOpps (www.fbo.gov). USAID posts its grant opportunities on the federal grant site here (www.grants.gov).  These sites list contracting and grant opportunities for USAID, and for all of the US federal government.

On the grant and contract sites you can search for projects by country, by subject, by government agency and a variety of other filters.

Of interest to many of our readers, USAID has pages dedicated to small businesses that are new to US government grant and contract programs and are interested in partnering with USAID. On this site, USAID links to a variety of resources discussing a mentor/protégé program, subcontracting options, and a listing of grant and contract opportunities geared towards smaller companies.

If you are interested in becoming a USAID grantee or contractor, we encourage you to thoroughly read USAID’s site to learn about the opportunities that exist.

If you are a US government contractor or grant recipient who has questions about your legal rights, we offer a free initial case review. For more information about the legal services we offer contractors and grantees, please see our Legal Services page here or email us at atty@vkvlaw.com.

Did You Find Improprieties in the Contract Bidding or Award Process? Consider (Quickly) a Protest

The attorney-authors receive inquiries from contractors for the United States Government (USG) who complain a contract was awarded to a competitor unfairly.  Some contractors think there is nothing they can do about an unfair award by the USG.  That is wrong.  If you lost a contract award and believe the bidding process or award was unfair or may have violated the law, you can protest.

This article describes what a protest involves and the short deadlines involved with a protest– often, a 10-day deadline.  If you are potentially interested in a protest, read on, and make a prompt decision whether you will take action.

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Media Site Publishes Top 100 U.S. Government Contractors for 2012

Washington Technology media and information site has published a list of the top 100 contractors to the U.S. government. Click here to see the site’s list for 2012: http://washingtontechnology.com/toplists/top-100-lists/2012.aspx

Hint:  Despite KBR’s, DynCorp’s and Fluor’s extensive activities overseas under LOGCAP, none is No. 1.

The site also provides interesting analysis on the future of U.S. government contracting, taking into consideration mission needs and budget cuts.

 

 

Rely on Bad Numbers Estimated For a Contract? Consider Filing a “Negligent Estimate” Claim or Similar Legal Claim

Numbers

Numbers (Photo credit: Jon Matthies)

Some contractors and subcontractors working on U.S. Government (USG) projects discover too late that numbers quoted in the solicitation or contract were bad estimates.  Worse, a contractor in that situation may have relied on those numbers being accurate, with this reliance turning out to cause the contractor to lose money.

For example, a contractor relying on contract numbers that are overestimated may over-order supplies, and overspend on personnel and facility costs, only to learn later that such extra expenses were wasted because the scope or volume of the contract turned out to be far less than the estimates originally given. Worst of all, a contractor or subcontractor in this position may learn that the other party (USG or prime contractor) had known, or had good reason to know, that the numbers were inaccurate from the first day.

If you find yourself in a bad-estimate situation like this, and you are a contractor on a USG project, you should know there are potential legal options, including a potential legal claim for having made a “negligent estimate” on your contract scope of work.

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Don’t Fear the USG’s Contracting Officers (But Be Polite During Disputes)

Serenity
Image by gideon_wright via Flickr

If you are a prime contractor to the U.S. Government (USG), chances are you fear the USG.  Not “fear” in the animal sense. But fear in the sense that you may be avoiding discussion about big problems with your contract.  Fear you may upset the USG, and be viewed as biting the hand that feeds you.

Here is why you should get over the fear, and why you should try to address contracting concerns you have with the USG.

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USG Asking You Do More Work Per the Contract Than Originally Contemplated? Know Your Rights

Piles of work
Image by skuds via Flickr

When the government asks you to do more work than called for under your contract, do you know your options and rights?

Your options, it may seem, are: (1) to complain or refuse and risk angering your customer; or (2) to do the extra work.

Neither option is appealing.

Many USG contractors choose #2, and just do the extra work on the assumption they will earn favor with the USG for future contracts and/or they will recoup their losses later.

These assumptions could leave you broke, with no recourse to pursue the government for additional payment.

Before you do the work, you should insist on a change order and compensation for the extra cost and/or extension of time to fulfill the government’s request.

If you have already agreed to do the work with no change order, you may still have legal options under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to pursue compensation for the extra work.

An attorney can assist with the change order process to ensure you receive appropriate compensation up front for any extra work.  Or if you have already done the work, an attorney can help identify ways you may be able to still obtain compensation.

Whether you try to handle these matters on your own or with an attorney, keep in mind that when the government asks you to do extra work, you should not passively agree and hope to get payment later.  You should consider taking action immediately, to preserve your right to seek additional compensation.

Often, contractors are afraid of acting, feeling they don’t want to rock the boat with the USG.  But the USG can be reasonable if you approach disputes in an appropriate manner.  (How you do approach disputes appropriately, you may ask?  We’ll post an article soon about that).

Going to Buy Local? Plan Ahead, Check if On Spec

Buy Fresh, Buy Local (lomo)
Image by stevegarfield via Flickr

A common problem for USG contractors is running into delays due to local suppliers’ goods being worse than anticipated, or even non-existent.

This post describes (1) planning to avoid such delays due to local problems; or (2) if it’s too late, effectively dealing with such delays.

Bidding Stage, and Failure to Research the Local Supply Market

At the bidding stage, a USG contractor obviously has a lot to think about. Among the issues, you of course will consider include what types of supplies you’d need to do the contractual work, how much such supplies typically cost, etc.

One issue, while simple however, may go unexamined by USG contractors during bidding: whether the local market can actually supply the goods you assume it can.

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Questions for Your New Attorney, Starting With #1: How Will I Get a Return on My Investment of Legal Fees?

question mark
Image via Wikipedia

Has your business avoided contacting an attorney because you’re concerned it could be a “waste” of money?

That’s an understandable concern. Sometimes, attorneys fees are not in fact a good investment.  Perhaps you’ve had a prior experience where you paid an attorney by the hour, and he spun his or her wheels without getting you anywhere.  That is, you did not get a favorable result: your main result was paying out legal fee money.

It’s true that in such instances, your money is poorly invested.  After all, you don’t pay an attorney just to do legal work.  You don’t pay an attorney for fancy briefs or documents.  You pay an attorney to improve your situation: to get a better financial result than you started with.

There are attorneys out there who understand this, and who strive to provide value to clients.

So how do you find an attorney who provides value?  It starts with the questions you ask.

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