In contract disputes, one of the parties in a contractual agreement fails to play its role adequately and accordingly. The failure in playing the expected role creates a disagreement with a factor that may call in for the authorities in resolving the issue. Sometimes, even the government may make a decision you do not agree with concerning a certain contract agreement with the government. In this case, there are alternatives on how to go through the disputes. Common alternatives include disputes and protests as well as any other forms applied in conflict resolution. This paper examines a GAO report on contract disputes and brings out the key issues in the dispute with respect to FAR. The report, in this case, is on a dispute case presented to the Government Accountability office by Mr. McClosky on July 18, 1980. The case is on a contract dispute that is between McClosky’s constituent, the Microform Data Systems, Inc with respect to the Government Printing Office or the GPO.
In the contract dispute report from GAO, McClosky is seeking opinion to the public Printer authority in order to red legate any resolution of Microform dispute. This was to be done by the contract appeals board in the executive branch. McClosky was advised by GAO authorities that this Public Printer be given authority by the Government Printing Office specifically by its board of contracts Appeals (Comptroller General Of The United States, 1981). The board dismissed the complaint of Microform claiming that the case lacked jurisdiction. It was then stated that aggrieved contractors were legally entitled to exercise shopping for administrative forums on receiving administrative rulings specifically from any board that is empowered to initiate actions on behalf of the US Federal Government. In the dispute, McClosky had requested for the GAO opinion from the suggestion by Microform on the administrative process that had not been satisfied by the composition as well as the procedures of Government Printing Office Board (Comptroller General Of The United States, 1981). The board was too improvident to encourage a warranting convocation of new board that could rehear the disputed contract case by Microform.
Microform settled a conclusion on the contracts provisions on its key parts based on Disputes Act, 41 US. C. 5 601. The company of Microform conceded that the Act was hardly applicable to the various legislative branch agencies in the United States. The Act, however, establishes a standardized way for legislative branches, which is in contrast to the due processes of imposing measures by administration. Microform Company had also requested that GAO provide opinion on the ability of the Public Printer in delegating his decision-making process and authority in some future matters concerning contract disputes. The concern on this delegation on decision-making authority was on the contract appeals board in executive branch of the GPO. Microform claims that GPO board had to make satisfaction on Contract Disputes with application of the right Act (Comptroller General Of The United States, 1981). GPO failed in this case of satisfying the contract dispute due to the fact that the GPO board in charge hardly worked on fulltime basis and that the board did not ensure that the duties were carried out consistently. Most staffs in the board were not qualified and therefore could hardly settle the problem. Lack of necessary required qualifications was considered with respect to the US Standards Act.
According to the report, GAO did not agree with the assertions of Microform Company as presented by McClosky. The reason for this disagreement on the assertions is that the contract dispute case had presented no indication that the dispute was created with an intention of creating a new and generalized standards of the due process that was to be applicable to the boards of agency contract appeals. Again, the dispute was not indicated within the legislation terms. In the same context, the language of the applied Act as well as the legislative history gave a suggestion of contrasting results. The case provides an instance whereby the Congress had recognition of the procurement volume in that it was small for the agencies and therefore it was unnecessary to include such agencies within the Act’s terms. Congress had an implicit recognition that the agencies had volumes of contract disputes that were worthy being supported in fulltime (Comptroller General Of The United States, 1981). There was also appointment of some individual board members while the qualified authorities from Tennessee Valley Authority were being exempted from the contract dispute case. Tennessee Valley Authority is said to have member with an experience of over five years in contract law.
The case report is presented as a letter to McClosky and seems to fail his claims in the case of contract dispute. The reports presents that Public Printer had the right to delegate his decision-making process and authority to any executive branch board of choice as long as there is the required statutory approval. Without the statutory approval, the delegation is bound to cause a violation in separation of power as a doctrine and an aspect of the constitution. The same case is indicated in the Contract Dispute Act. It is therefore concluded that Public Printer had the right to delegate his decision-making authority to a chosen executive branch board (GAO, 1987).
From the report, it comes out that not all contract disputes are resolved with respect to requests of the individual presenting the dispute as a case to the GAO. The Government Authority Office oversees contract dispute case with respect to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). The Federal Acquisition Regulations operates by offering well regulatory provisions that would enhance contract performances and settle all contract disputes in the United State. FAR does this by providing guidelines in the formation of contracts, administration duties on contracts, acquisition processes, as well as adequate planning processes in contractual agreement in order to mitigate cases of contract disputes. Federal Acquisition Regulations also aid in providing guidance on government procurements to ensure order in contracts and avoid similar cases as in the case of GAO report addressing McClosky’s request (GAO, 1987). The procedures provided by FAR are unique in the field of contract law and regulations.
One reason why contracts require evaluation is to determine their viability as well as their effectiveness with respect to FAR regulations on contract performance and their disputes. The obligation of FAR is to emphasize on evaluations that are timely and standardized so that in cases of contract disputes, compensations or rulings could be done accordingly (MilitaryHealthReport.com, 2012). FAR provides that in cases of contract disputes, consideration on whether all parties were satisfied about the agreement and all terms and conditions is good in dealing with cases of contract disputes. The law has to play a major role in establishing who was right in taking a certain course of action such as delegating some functions like the case of the Public Printer in the McClosky’s presentation of contract dispute to GAO. FAR insists on assessment and evaluation of past performances in order to ensure certification of the contract and the performance of the contractors (Federal Acquisition Regulation, 2005). In cases of disputes, the same evaluations are reviewed while observing all guidance of the contract laws.
The work of GAO in a contract dispute
The work of GAO in a contract dispute is to ensure that contractual agreements through the set terms and conditions are observed by all parties involved. It is also the obligation of GAO as an accountability office to present various reports concerning issues affecting contracts such as contract disputes (MilitaryHealthReport.com, 2012). GAO is usually fair in resolving issues in contracts since it settles disputes in contracts while observing regulations provided by FAR. Increasing of contract disputes and protests to GAO are attributed to the federal spending on procurement as well as a rising case of individual awards for various contracts.
Most individuals presenting despites face low sustainment rate a factor that sometimes makes contractors use other ways of solving contract disputes in the US. An agency would settle contract disputes by eliminating the middle agents and then initiating a direct renegotiation with the contractor. This new method of resolving contract disputes relieves the GAO of its many tasks associated with contracts throughout the United States (Vacketta, 2008). The only problem is the issue of fairness may however not apply since the middle agent ends up losing.
Whichever way one has to present a contract dispute, consideration of the law and initial aspects of creating the contract has to be considered in order to avoid further dispute or protest. The Government Accountability Office presents a good system of settling a contract dispute in a way that none of the parties in a contract would feel unconsidered. The GAO authorities settle disputes in contracts with great observant of the law of contract (guidebook.dcma.mil, 2010). Parties in a contract should, therefore, avoid other destructive ways of settling contract disputes such as protests, or elimination of middle agents. All parties should benefits from a contract whether involving the government or the private sector. In any way of resolving disputes in contracts, the law is always watching and future claims may lead to great losses if the right path is not followed. GAO makes judgments in accordance with the law and FAR regulations on contracts and therefore all disputes need the help of GAO and FAR.
Comptroller General Of The United States. (1981, February 18). Contract Dispute involving Government Print Office. Retrieved March 15, 2013, from gao.gov: http://www.gao.gov/assets/190/187893.pdf
Federal Acquisition Regulation. (2005). Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). VOLUME I , PARTS 1 TO 51.
GAO. (1987, October 30). Reimbursements to Permanent Judgment Appropriation Under Contract Disputes Act. Retrieved March 15, 2013, from gao.gov: http://www.gao.gov/products/155021
guidebook.dcma.mil. (2010, June). Contract Claims and Disputes. Retrieved March 15, 2013, from http://guidebook.dcma.mil/48/index.cfm
MilitaryHealthReport.com. (2012, July 04). GAO Acts in Contract Dispute. Retrieved March 15, 2013, from Military Health, Tricare: http://militaryhealthreport.com/military-health/gao- acts-in-contract-dispute
Vacketta, C. L. (2008, March 26). Federal Government Contract Overview. Retrieved March 15, 2013, from findlaw.com: http://corporate.findlaw.com/law-library/federal-government- contract-overview.html
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