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I did a little research to see if there is a "best" set of rules of contract interpretation for U. S. Government contracts. I couldn't settle in on what would be considered the "gold standard" list. I am putting together some training for some junior contracting personnel and would like to share a set that has a high pedigree. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

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Absolutely. Purchase the latest edition of Administration of Government Contracts by Nash and whomever is his current collaborator. There is an entire chapter (Chapter 2 in the Fourth Edition) on this subject. The three editions that I have had over the years has served me well for over 30 years. Back in the 1990's, I used it to develop and teach an internal class for our District's contracting and contract admin personnel. It has served as a valuable source to at least start with when evaluating REA's and claims and to discuss matters with legal and our KO's.

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Another highly useful reference book is The Government Contracts Reference Book (currently in its 4th Edition) by Nash, O'Brien-DeBakey, and Schooner. Put very simply, think of it as a combination dictionary and thesaurus tailored for Government contracting. I use the Reference Book and Administration quite frequently in my day-to-day. I lucked into (older, but still useful) copies of Administration and Formation of Government Contracts (also by Nash and other contributors) when a colleague left my agency and no longer wanted those tomes.

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Another highly useful reference book is The Government Contracts Reference Book (currently in its 4th Edition) by Nash, O'Brien-DeBakey, and Schooner. Put very simply, think of it as a combination dictionary and thesaurus tailored for Government contracting. I use the Reference Book and Administration quite frequently in my day-to-day. I lucked into (older, but still useful) copies of Administration and Formation of Government Contracts (also by Nash and other contributors) when a colleague left my agency and no longer wanted those tomes.

?????

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Joel,

Are you referring to the departure of my colleague?

Jon, sorry for my cryptic question.

I think that the OP is looking for sources for of some generally accepted rules of interpretation of contracts, in order to determine the intent of the parties.

But - OK, I can see where the REFERENCE BOOK might be handy to help define terminology in the contract that is not specifically defined therein or by common usage definitions for the contract coverage. I think that one must be careful where the industry definition or trade usage of a term differs from one in the REFERENCE BOOK and is not otherwise defined in the contract.

There is a discussion concerning definition of terms in the book that I mentioned.

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Joel,

Are you referring to the departure of my colleague?

Jon, just curious - I'm not the one who left a copy was I? I did leave behind some older versions as I moved around and when I initially retired. I usually kept or bought the latest versions upon moving... I have always been able to find them and the other Nash and Cibinic series books at the local University Bookstores. For me, they were professionally worth buying with my own funds when it was too difficult to get them through the assigned organization. I think too that that Prof. Nash gave me a copy once, long ago. I met him a couple of times.

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Joel,

I've thought about buying the latest editions of the Cibinic & Nash series, but the cost investment was too great - so thank you for the tip about university bookstores!

My former colleague left them behind by mistake, but upon further reflection, I do recall my colleague saying he had already acquired the newest editions, and that I was free to have his copies of the previous versions.

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I appreciate all of the help. I have a version (3rd) of Administration of Government contracts and agree that there is excellent detail on contract interpretation. I guess I am being a little lazy. I recall seeing, from time to time, concise listing of rules. I have found some lists on the web, but they don't seem to be universal in content.

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Guest Vern Edwards

You are not being clear about what you want. What do you mean by "concise listing"?

Do you literally want a list of rules, without explanations? Or, if you want explanations, how much explanation do you want? How much do you know about the law of contracts?

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Seems like many years ago in a Fed Pubs Briefing Paper there was an article describing something in the order of 13 generally accepted rules of contract interpretation. It had a concise statement of each rule followed by a couple of explanatory paragraphs. I am just looking for something simple like that.

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Guest Vern Edwards

West recently published a Briefing Paper entitled, Government Contract Interpretation: A Comprehensive Overview, 15-4 Briefing Papers 1 (March 2015), by Kenneth J. Allen.

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