Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

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The Army issued a solicitation, noting that it intended to award contracts without discussions and that noncompliance with proposal requirements “may result in elimination of the proposal from further consideration. . . Failure to meet a requirement may result in an offeror being ineligible for an award.” The submission was required to include a cost/price proposal that was “fully complete and error free,” with supporting information, including subcontractor information. Orion submitted a proposal on the last possible date, wthout proprietary cost information for five of its eight subcontractors. Eight days later, the Army received packages allegedly containing the missing subcontractor information. The packages were returned unopened. The contracting officer rejected Orion’s proposal and denied a protest. The Army subsequently issued an amendment, notifying offerors in the competitive range that discussions were going to be held and seeking new cost/price proposals. Orion unsuccessfully attempted to resubmit. A second protest was dismissed and the Government Accountability Office affirmed. The Claims Court dismissed, holding that Orion lacked standing to bring a bid protest under 28 U.S.C. 1491(b)(1), and that, on the merits, it was a rational decision to exclude Orion from competition due to the missing information. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Orion Tech., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Indian Harbor sought reimbursement under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1993, 106 Stat. 2315, 2371; 107 Stat. 1547, 1745 for environmental cleanup costs associated with the development of the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin military base in southern California. The Court of Federal Claims determined that Indian Harbor failed to identify a “claim for personal injury or property” that triggered the government’s duty to indemnify and dismissed. The Federal Circuit reversed, relying on the purposes of the Act, to encourage cleanup and redevelopment of former military installations. View "Indian Harbor Ins. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Department of Defense issued a solicitation seeking offers for a multiple award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for information technology services. The agency described the services as “Net-Centric Integrated Enterprise Information Technology Services,” including help desk, server, network, and applications support services. The solicitation instructed bidders to submit separate bids for the Basic Contract, Task Order 1, and Task Order 2. Every bidder, including Comint, submitted separate bids. The Department then limited the initial award to the Basic Contract and amended the solicitation. Comint acknowledged the amendment. The Source Selection Evaluation Board evaluated each proposal according to factors in the solicitation, the most important of which was “Quality/Capability.” The Board rated Comint’s proposal as “marginal,” concluding that Comint had a “moderate to high associated risk of unsuccessful performance.” The district court rejected Comint’s challenge of the award to another bidder; Comint lacked standing to challenge the solicitation or award because the agency had not erred in rejecting Comint’s bid on technical grounds. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that Comint failed to preserve its right to challenge the solicitation by failing to raise objections before award and that Comint has not demonstrated standing to protest the agency’s failure to award it a contract. View "Comint Sys. Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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ASNA is an inter-tribal consortium of federally recognized tribes situated in Alaska. In 1996, 1997, and 1998, ASNA contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services, under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to operate a hospital. ISDA requires the government to pay costs reasonably incurred in managing the programs, 25 U.S.C. 450j-1. There have been three previous class actions concerning payments. One resulted in settlement; in two the courts denied class certification for failure to exhaust administrative remedies because claims had not first been submitted to the contracting officer. ANSA brought its claim, arguing that it was a putative class member in those suits even though it did not individually present claims to the contracting officer within the Contract Disputes Act six-year limitations period and that the limitations period was tolled while those cases were pending. The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals dismissed. The Federal Circuit reversed. The class actions involved similar issues and parties, and put the government on notice of the general nature and legal theory underlying ASNA’s claims. ASNA monitored the legal landscape, took action as appropriate, and reasonably relied upon controlling authority, holding that it did not need to exhaust administrative remedies to be a class member. View "Arctic Slope Native Assoc., Ltd. v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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In 1993, Bowers and the FAA entered into a lease for office and warehouse space. The FAA agreed to monthly payments, $19,509, beginning in January 1994, payable each month “in arrears.” The parties modified the lease eight times until termination on September 30, 2006. In 2008, Bowers filed a claim of $82,203.72 with the contracting officer (41 U.S.C. 7103(a)(1)), for the final month’s rent and property damage. Bowers claimed that because the contract provided for payment “in arrears,” payment made in September, 2006 was for the August rent. The contracting officer held that rent was actually paid in advance, but allowed other, minor, claims. Before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, Bowers attempted to establish that the FAA had not paid rent for three months in 1994. CBCA rejected the attempt and Bowers signed a certificate of finality. In 2009 Bowers submitted two more claims: $56,640.78 (plus interest) for assertedly unpaid rent for January, February, and March of 1994 and that the FAA underpaid by $664 every month from October 1, 1998 to October 1, 2006, a total of $64,408.00 (plus interest). The contracting officer denied the claims. The Claims Court held that the CBCA’s final decision precluded the litigation. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Bowers Inv. Co, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2007 the Postal Service awarded Tip Top a contract under which the Postal Service would assign individual projects by issuing work orders. In 2009, the Postal Service issued a work order to replace the air conditioning system at the Main Post Office in Christiansted, Virgin Islands, for the price of $229,736.92. As a result of that work Tip Top submitted a claim and request for an equitable adjustment under the Contract Disputes Act, 41 U.S.C. 7101-7109, in the amount of $34,553.77, consisting of a subcontractor’s price for a change, plus 10% profit, 4% insurance, and 4% gross receipts tax, plus $9,655 for “Preparation Costs & Extended Overhead” and $2,745 for “Legal Fees.” The Postal Service Board of Contract Appeals ruled that Tip Top was entitled to recover $2,565. The Board ruled that Tip Top was not entitled to recover the balance of the amount claimed because it had failed to demonstrate that the costs at issue were incurred as a result of the change order. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded, with directions to grant the appeal in its entirety. The ruling was based upon an error of law and not supported by substantial evidence. View "Tip Top Constr., Inc.v. Donahoe" on Justia Law

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In 2009 the Forest Service awarded Scott contracts to remove timber on federally-owned plots during a designated period. Scott was then pursuing litigation based on delays in other contracts resulting from environmental litigation. The government therefore included provisions in the contracts at issue, authorizing suspension of the contracts to comply with court orders or for environmental reasons. The contracts provided for term adjustment, but prohibited award of lost profits, attorney’s fees, replacement costs, and similar losses. Another environmental suit arose in Oregon, resulting in an injunction that included the contracts at issue. The Forest Service suspended the contracts and began protected species surveys required by that litigation. Surveys were completed in late 2000, but the suspensions continued, due to new litigation, until 2003. In 2004-2008, Scott harvested the total contractual amount of timber. In 2005, Scott sought damages. The Claims Court found breach of an implied duty of good faith and fair dealing and that the government unreasonably delayed the surveys and continued the suspensions. The court found that Scott was entitled to $28,742 in lost profits and $129,599 in additional costs, offset by some actual profit; the government was also liable to a log-processing subcontractor, for $6,771,397 in lost profits; The Federal Circuit reversed. View "Scott Timber Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Army solicited proposals for aerial target flight operations and maintenance services. Kratos provided these services under a predecessor contract. The solicitation listed three evaluation factors: Technical/Management; Past Performance; and Price/Cost to be rated as “outstanding,” “satisfactory,” “marginal,” or “unsatisfactory.” The contract was subject to the Service Contract Act of 1965, under which the Federal Acquisition Regulation requires that “successor contractors … in the same locality must pay wages and fringe benefits … at least equal to those contained in any bona fide collective bargaining agreement … under the predecessor contract.” The Army received three proposals, including the offers from SA-TECH and Kratos. After review, the Technical Evaluation Committee announced a Final Evaluation Report, noting potential difficulties for SA-TECH under the Labor sub-factor, but rating SA-TECH as “outstanding” for all factors. Kratos also received “outstanding” ratings. The Source Selection Authority concluded that SA-TECH offered the best value for the government. Kratos filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office. SA-TECH subsequently protested the Army’s decision to engage in corrective action instead of allowing SA-TECH’s award to stand. The Claims Court denied the Army’s motion to dismiss and found the Army’s actions unreasonable and contrary to law. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Sys. Application & Tech., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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DGR, seeking an Air Force contract, filed a formal agency-level protest with respect to bid procedures, which the Air Force denied, referencing a DOJ memorandum and a memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget. Pursuant to established appeal procedures, DGR next filed its protest with the GAO, which sustained the appeal despite the contrary Department of Justice and OMB directives. The Air Force was told to rebid the contract consistent with the GAO reading of the Act. The Air Force declined to comply. DGR filed suit, prevailed, and was awarded attorneys’ fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412. The Court of Federal Claims determined that the government’s position in the underlying bid protest was not substantially justified. The Federal Circuit reversed. Given the then-existing disagreement among all three branches of the federal government over the law applicable to this bid protest, the Claims Court erred in finding that the government’s position was not substantially justified. View "DGR Assocs., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 1978, Hages acquired a ranch in Nevada occupying approximately 7,000 acres of private land and approximately 752,000 acres of federal lands under grazing permits. Their predecessors had acquired water rights now located on federal lands, 43 U.S.C. 661. Hages had disputes with the government concerning release of non-indigenous elk onto federal land for which Hages had grazing permits, unauthorized grazing by Hages’ cattle, and fence and ditch maintenance. After a series of incidents, in 1991, Hages filed suit alleging takings under 43 U.S.C. 1752(g), and breach of contract. After almost 20 years, the Claims Court awarded compensation for regulatory taking of water rights; physical taking of water rights; and range improvements. The court awarded pre-judgment interest for the takings, but not for the range improvements. The Federal Circuit vacated in part. The regulatory takings claim and 43 U.S.C. 1752 claim are not ripe. To the extent the claim for physical taking relies on fences constructed 1981-1982, it is untimely. To the extent the physical takings claim relies on fences constructed 1988-1990, there is no evidence that water was taken that Hages could have put to beneficial use. Hages are not entitled to pre-judgment interest for range improvements because Hages failed to identify a cognizable property interest. View "Hage v. United States" on Justia Law