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).

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