Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
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Raytheon has cost-reimbursement government contracts. Raytheon’s Government Relations Department engaged in information gathering, internal discussions on lobbying strategies, attending meals with contractors and Congresspeople or staff, meeting with internal Raytheon customers, attending political fundraisers, administering Raytheon’s Political Action Committee, interfacing with the legislative branch, responding to requests from Congressional staffers, and similar activities. Raytheon instructed employees to record all compensated time spent on lobbying activities. Accounting personnel withdrew costs associated with that time from Raytheon’s incurred-cost submissions. Raytheon’s employees considered time worked outside of regular hours part of their regular work duties, yet Raytheon’s policy instructed them not to report “[t]ime spent on lobby activity after the scheduled working day.” Raytheon’s Corporate Development Department worked with Raytheon’s business units, including internal investment, research and development, intellectual property licensing, partnerships, or acquisitions. Corporate Development had rules establishing when employees begin recording their time on acquisitions and divestitures.In 2007-2008, Raytheon charged the government for roughly half of the salary costs of its Government Relations and Corporate Development Departments. The Defense Contract Audit Agency audited both departments, determined that Raytheon’s incurred-cost submissions for those departments included unallowable costs, and demanded reimbursement and penalties. The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals ruled in favor of Raytheon. The Federal Circuit reversed. The Board erred in interpreting Raytheon’s corporate practices and policies, which are inconsistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and led Raytheon to charge the government for unallowable costs. View "Secretary of Defense v. Raytheon Co." on Justia Law

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The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a solicitation for Technical Security, Communications Security, Cyber, Analysis, and Security Administration, designated as a small business set-aside. The size limit for interested businesses was a maximum of $20.5 million in average annual receipts. Obsidian submitted a bid proposal and self-certified as a small business based on its five-year average of annual receipts ($17.5 million). DOE notified Obsidian that it was the apparent successful offeror but submitted a request to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to confirm Obsidian’s size status before making the award. The SBA determined Obsidian did not qualify as a small business. Rather than use the five-year average of receipts, the SBA used Obsidian’s three-year average (roughly $21.8 million)The Office of Hearings and Appeals affirmed. Obsidian filed a bid protest under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491(b), arguing that the BA was required to start using five years of annual receipts. Obsidian cited the Runway Extension Act (REA), an amendment to the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632(a)(2)), including a requirement to use a five-year average of receipts for purposes of size determinations. The Federal Circuit affirmed judgment on the administrative record in favor of the government. The REA unambiguously did not apply to the SBA. There are two subsections discussing size factors. The SBA has its own, broader limitations on establishing size standards than other agencies. View "Obsidian Solutions Group, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2005, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) awarded Supreme a contract to provide food to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. During negotiations concerning deliveries to forward operating bases, Supreme submitted inflated cost proposals. Supreme threatened to withhold payments to subcontractors (potentially cutting off supplies to troops), The parties executed a Modification, including Supreme’s proposed rates, subject to verification. The Defense Contract Audit Agency concluded that Supreme’s documentation was not adequate and questioned more than $375 million of claimed costs. The contracting officer, in 2011, determined that DLA had overpaid Supreme by $567,267,940. DLA withheld $540 million from Supreme’s monthly payments. Supreme submitted unsuccessful “reverse image” claims. In 2014, Supreme pled guilty to fraud and entered into a civil settlement in a False Claims Act suit. During the investigations, with Supreme’s contract expiring, the parties entered into two extensions. In 2015, based on Supreme’s guilty plea, DLA demanded the return of all money paid under the contract. In 2020, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals concluded that Supreme’s contract claims against the government were barred by Supreme’s prior material breach.The Federal Circuit affirmed. The government did not waive its prior material breach defense. While DLA had some notice of Supreme’s fraudulent behavior in 2009, it had no “known right” until Supreme’s guilty plea, after which DLA never extended Supreme’s contract. Supreme cannot treat the bridge contracts as separate only to evade the government’s affirmative defenses. The parties treated the original contract and the extensions as inextricably intertwined; DLA’s prior material breach defense applies to those contracts. View "Supreme Foodservice GmbH v. Director of the Defense Logistics Agency" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Zafer entered a $40 million contract to build water systems on the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Zafer completed the project and submitted a request for equitable adjustment in September 2013, which it timely amended in December 2014. Zafer alleged that the government increased the cost of the project by causing delays and modifying the contract. Zafer’s detailed request sought $6.7 million and provided a breakdown of the reasons for the claimed amounts. Zafer certified its request under 41 U.S.C. 7103(b)(1), beyond what is required by 48 C.F.R. 252.243-7002(b) to certify mere requests for equitable adjustment. The parties negotiated for four-and-a-half years but did not fully resolve Zafer’s request.In February 2018, Zafer asked to convert its request for equitable adjustment into a claim. The contracting officer determined that most of the claim was time-barred because the government’s alleged conduct had transpired more than six years before Zafer had converted its request into a claim. The Claims Court found that Zafer’s claim had “accrued no later than August 1, 2011,” meaning Zafer had to have submitted a claim by August 1, 2017, for the claim to be timely, reasoning that Zafer’s request for equitable adjustment “lacks a request for a final decision” and “asks for negotiations.” The Federal Circuit reversed. Zafer’s December 2014 request for equitable adjustment implicitly requests a final decision and therefore is a claim. View "Zafer Construction Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Lanclos was born in 1982 at the Keesler Air Force Base Medical Center. During childbirth, she was seriously injured and as a result, suffers from Athetoid cerebral palsy. The settlement agreement for Lanclos’s medical malpractice suit required the government to make lump sum payments to Lanclos’s parents and their attorney; Lanclos would receive a single lump sum payment followed by specific monthly payments for the longer of 30 years or the remainder of her life. The government would purchase an annuity policy to provide the monthly payments. The government selected Executive Insurance to provide the monthly annuity payments. Executive encountered financial difficulties and, in 2014, reduced the amount of the monthly payments by 42%. Lanclos estimates that the reduction will result in a shortfall of $731,288.81 from the amount described in the settlement agreement.The Court of Federal Claims reasoned that the “guarantee” language in the Lanclos agreement applies to the scheduled monthly structure of the payments but not the actual payment of the listed amounts and that the government was not liable for the shortfall. The Federal Circuit reversed. Under the ordinary meaning of the term “guarantee” and consistent with the agreement as a whole, the government agreed to assure fulfillment of the listed monthly payments; there is no reasonable basis to conclude that the parties sought to define “guarantee” or to give the term an alternative meaning. View "Lanclos v. United States" on Justia Law

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The 1938 Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act prioritized purchasing products from suppliers that employed blind individuals; 41 U.S.C. 8501–06, establishes a procurement system in which the government procures certain commodities and services from nonprofit agencies that employ the blind or otherwise severely disabled. The “AbilityOne Program” regulations govern the procurement system. 41 C.F.R. 51 and reiterate the Program's mandatory nature. The DLA, within the Defense Department, issued a Solicitation that contemplated awards for a Rifleman Set with Tactical Assault Panel (TAP) and Advanced TAP (ATAP). Before an ATAP award was made, SEKRI, a nonprofit agency qualified as a mandatory source of ATAP under the AbilityOne Program, sought an injunction prohibiting the federal government from procuring ATAP from any other source.The Claims Court dismissed for lack of standing, reasoning that SEKRI cannot claim to be a prospective bidder because the solicitation period had ended and the only action SEKRI took before filing its complaint was contacting DLA, through a third party, to inform DLA that SEKRI was a mandatory ATAP source. SEKRI did not submit a bid before the deadline despite DLA’s invitation. The Federal Circuit reversed. SEKRI qualifies as a prospective bidder for standing purposes under the Tucker Act. Given DLA’s awareness during the bidding process that SEKRI is the mandatory ATAP source, SEKRI has not waived its right to bring its bid protest action under the “Blue & Gold” standard. View "SEKRI, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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CSI was awarded a government contract to provide “[a]ir charter services operated by brokers, and various auxiliary services that will be used to support the contract.” After U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) canceled various removal flights, CSI sought payment ($40,284,548.89) from the Department of Homeland Security. The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals dismissed the action, concluding that the CSI Terms and Conditions, which include “Cancellation Charges” were not incorporated by reference into the Schedule Contract.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded. The Schedule Contract expressly incorporates at least one document that unambiguously identifies the CSI Terms and Conditions and makes clear such terms and conditions apply to all operations. CSI’s Offer plainly identified the CSI Terms and Conditions—along with the CSI Commercial Sales Practice attachment, its Pricing Policy, and its Commercial Price List—in the “Pricing” section of its table of contents. View "CSI Aviation, Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The government solicited bids for the provision of food and dining room operation services at the Fort Knox U.S. Army base and awarded the contract to the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (KOVR). Mitchco, previously KOVR’s subcontractor and its predecessor under a 2015 contract award, challenged the award. The contract was designated as set aside for small businesses and was subject to the Randolph-Sheppard Act (RSA), which provides that “[i]n authorizing the operation of vending facilities on Federal property, priority shall be given to blind persons licensed by a State agency [SLA],” 20 U.S.C. 107(b).Mitchco argued that KOVR was not a “small business concern,” and therefore was not eligible to receive the award. The Small Business Administration determined that KOVR was “other than a small business concern for the applicable size standard” Mitchco filed two unsuccessful protests with the Government Accountability Office, alleging that the agency improperly evaluated KOVR’s proposal and that KOVR violated the Procurement Integrity Act (PIA).After determining that the case was not moot, the Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. Mitchco was aware of the SLA priority notwithstanding the small business set-aside and did not protest the terms of the solicitation prior to bid submission and cannot challenge its applicability now. Nothing in the RSA requires a blind person at each facility. Mitchco did not establish a PIA violation. View "Mitchco International, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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VAS leased a facility that housed “ICE” in Warwick, Rhode Island. In 2017, the General Services Administration (GSA) issued a request for lease proposals for a facility to house ICE in Rhode Island. VAS offered the building that ICE was already occupying, indicating that the building met the requirements. After several revisions, GSA awarded the contract to a competitor. An Office of the Inspector General report found that the procurement was “significantly flawed,” because GSA accepted a late proposal; used a calculation of the lease’s present value that favored the chosen bid; awarded the contract to a bidder that did not own or control the property at the time of its proposal; failed to timely and adequately debrief VAS; and used unclear acquisition terminology. GSA declined to take any corrective action.The Claims Court dismissed VAS’s bid protest for lack of standing, reasoning that VAS failed to show it has a substantial chance of winning the lease. The Federal Circuit reversed. If VAS’s protest proves successful, VAS would have an opportunity to participate in any new procurement. Under such circumstances, a protester has a substantial chance of winning the award for standing purposes. View "VAS Realty, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Aspen sought compensation for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ failure to deposit contractual payments in the account designated in its contract to outfit U.S. military health and dental clinics in Germany. The contract required payment using the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) information contained in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database. After making two payments to an account (CZ) not listed in the database for Aspen, the government maintained that Aspen held the payee out as having “apparent authority to negotiate” on behalf of Aspen and “to sign contract modifications, submit invoices, submit requests for equitable adjustments[,] and submit delay cost proposals.” The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals held that the government did not breach the contract.The Federal Circuit reversed. When the government made the payments to the CZ account, Aspen had not changed its EFT information in the CCR database to the CZ account. The government breached the contract by making its payments to an account other than the one listed in the CCR database; the breach was material. On remand, the Board must determine whether the government has established an affirmative defense of payment. The parties dispute whether depositing funds into the CZ account benefitted Aspen but that issue cannot be resolved on appeal. View "Aspen Consulting, LLC v. Secretary of the Army" on Justia Law