What You Need to Know about the Contract Disputes Act

A Guide to CDA for Prevailing Wage Contractors

The Contract Disputes Act (CDA) of 1978 is one of the important laws that government contractors and prevailing wage contractors should be familiar with. The CDA ensures and establishes uniform procedures regarding the negotiation and litigation of disputes over government contracts. Knowing more about these procedures will allow you to protect your interests and to raise petitions.

Read on to understand more about the Contract Disputes Act and how it can apply to your situation.

What is the Contract Disputes Act?

The Contract Disputes Act outlines a transparent and definitive litigation process. This ensures that throughout the proceedings, there is fairness and predictability. Both you as the contractor and the government agency or Contracting Officer are encouraged to negotiate claims and disputes in good faith.

What is a Claim and How Do You Pursue it?

As a contractor, you may have a claim on a particular federal construction project. Through the course of this claim, the government Contracting Officer must make a Final Decision. This Final Decision is ideally a formal written response based on the merits of your claim as a contractor for the project.

Under the CDA, the Contracting Officer has 60 days as additional time to issue a Final Decision. Contractors can petition to shorten that extension.

In cases where the Contracting Officer does not respond within 60 days, the claim is said to be a “deemed denial”. At this point, you cannot make an appeal in order to secure that project. A formal Final Decision must be written by the Contracting Officer before government contractors can exercise the right to appeal. This prerequisite can make the process tricky for government contractors wishing to negotiate and resolve claims.

The CDA establishes the procedural path of a claim. Government contractors can petition to direct the Contracting Officer to issue a decision in a specified period of time. During the appeal process, the government is required to take a position on the merits of the claim.

Where to Make an Appeal

Government contractors who wish to challenge the Final Decision made by the Contracting Officer should appeal to either one of two bodies. The contractor may appeal to the Board of Contract Appeals, or to the United States Court of Federal Claims.

The claim can be pursued and contested further. Following the decision by either initial forum, you can still raise and appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. After appealing to this intermediate appellate authority, the final appellate authority for this case and all other cases is the Supreme Court.

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