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I was awarded a relatively small contract, under 35k. It had an unusually long POP of 1 year.

I went through all of the trouble to get security clearances for employees, traveled to the site (out of state) to begin work on a date the CO selected as most advantageous to him (although not the best for us but I like to be helpful and cooperative). We were immediately notified that a stop work order was in place for an accident elsewhere at the facility. We were advised to stick around in hopes the order would be lifted soon.  Our arrival date on site was a Monday, the stop work order was lifted on the following Thursday morning. A few hours later on that Thursday we were told to stop work again because other work had to be performed in our work area. I was then told to pack up and that we would reschedule for a later time.  We had 7 months remaining.  I spent that Friday having equipment picked up, situating things and headed back home the next day.

Over the next 7 months, getting any responses from the gov was horrible.  typically one response would take over a month.  The last response or contact was 5 months ago and the POP expired 3 months ago. In previous conversations by phone (which I hate since I like everything documented in email) the CO told me that he thought his boss was intentionally trying to let the POP expire in order to wrap this project into something else. This project is at a highly secured area so I can't just pop in and restart work.

My lost week and other time and expenses are about equivalent to the project value, even though we literally completed 0% of the physical work.

The government has been wholly unresponsive.  

What do I do?

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You need to read your contract.

Specifically, you need identify the authority for the stop-work orders.  Hopefully, the authority will be cited in the stop-work orders.

Then, you do whatever the appropriate contract clause says.  It will probably require you to give a notice or make an assertion within a certain amount of time -- and you might have already missed your deadline.

Read the contract.  Then follow the contract, and insist that the Government do the same.  

While you are reading your contract, you will likely come across the clause at FAR 52.233-1, Disputes.  Read it.  You might want to do what it says.

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52.233-3 NS 52.233-4 are cited, but not 52.233-1.

Further, that clause seems to relate more so to claims arising during the course of a project (unforeseen work, etc), although I guess this technically qualifies as such. But I am more concerned with how this "ends" since the POP is long expired and the government remains unresponsive. None of the project was physically completed.

I did find this decision, which seems relevant to some extent: Relyant, LLC, ASBCA No. 59809 (2018) Wherein the government's delay constituted a breach of contract.

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Ask your contracting officer for a date that you can resume work.

Keep the request short and simple.  Identify the contract by contract number, remind the contracting officer that he or she issued a stop-work order, and ask for a date that you can resume work.  Keep it short and simple.

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5 hours ago, PD216ohio said:

I was awarded a relatively small contract, under 35k. It had an unusually long POP of 1 year.

Over the next 7 months, getting any responses from the gov was horrible.  typically one response would take over a month.  The last response or contact was 5 months ago and the POP expired 3 months ago.

 

This is what I would do:

1. Submit a voucher for $35k less any amount you may have already been paid.

2. Wait 30 calender days and if not paid, submit a written demand to the contracting officer for that amount for reasons of breach of contract and request a decision within 60 calendar days.

3. If no decision issued within that time, file an appeal with the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals if the contract is Department of Defense or NASA.

4. Alternatively, consult with an attorney experienced with contract disputes with the government, preferably with the agency involved (you didn't say).

Edited by Neil Roberts
add Contract
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On 10/2/2020 at 4:22 PM, Neil Roberts said:

 

This is what I would do:

1. Submit a voucher for $35k less any amount you may have already been paid.

2. Wait 30 calender days and if not paid, submit a written demand to the contracting officer for that amount for reasons of breach of contract and request a decision within 60 calendar days.

3. If no decision issued within that time, file an appeal with the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals if the contract is Department of Defense or NASA.

4. Alternatively, consult with an attorney experienced with contract disputes with the government, preferably with the agency involved (you didn't say).

Thank you for that insight/advice.  Do I have a claim for the entire contract value simply because the government breached?

I also have a pending claim for 21k for the week I spent on site, and which was consumed with the stop work order.  I would have considered that wasted time to be billed in addition to the contract value since I was there on a date specified by the government and then accomplished nothing but was on standby at the orders of the government.

Honestly, I was just going to bill them for that lost week and some time for prep work, office hours, etc.  So maybe 30k total max.

Further, I am not certain that I want to complete the contract (if given the option) given all the difficulties presented at this particular installation.

As for an attorney, I think the cost for someone familiar with this area of law would cost more than the value of my claim.

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You don't have a basis for a claim yet, as I see it.  As I see it you need to either--

  1. Ask your contracting officer for a date that you can resume work (as I already suggested); or
  2. Submit a voucher for $35K less any amount you may have already been paid (as Neil already suggested).

Your idea to bill for a lesser amount might backfire -- but it also might work, if you couch it in terms of making it easier for them in that the Government has failed and you're willing to close the contract and walk away for a lesser settlement amount.

But this is your business, your call.

You might learn that the Government has already closed the contract and erased the money.  You might be at fault for failing to diligently prosecute the work.  We don't know what clauses are in the contract.  Do you have paper copies of (1) the first stop-work order, (2) the cancellation of that stop-work order, (3) the second stop-work order, and (4) the order removing you from the work site?  Your text made it sound like these could have been oral instructions.  You called it a contract, but at $35K it might have been a purchase order -- the Government may cancel a purchase order rather easily in many cases.  Whenever you do make contact with the contracting officer, be prepared to learn.

I recommend doing 1. or 2. above, re-reading your contract, making sure whether the clause at FAR 52.233-1, Disputes, is or is not included, and assembling your correspondence.  Your remedy will be driven by the clauses that are in the contract.  I do not think that letting so much time pass will work in your favor.

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You didn’t say what the contract was for.. construction, service, etc. Or what, if any, clauses are in your small contract.

See this link. It might or might not be applicable: https://www.oles.com/blog/far-suspension-of-work-v-stop-work-order-what-contractors-need-to-know/

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On 10/5/2020 at 12:33 PM, PD216ohio said:

I have a claim for the entire contract value simply because the government breached?

I also have a pending claim for 21k for the week I spent on site, and which was consumed with the stop work order.  I would have considered that wasted time to be billed in addition to the contract value since I was there on a date specified by the government and then accomplished nothing but was on standby at the orders of the government.

Honestly, I was just going to bill them for that lost week and some time for prep work, office hours, etc.  So maybe 30k total max.

Further, I am not certain that I want to complete the contract (if given the option) given all the difficulties presented at this particular installation.

As for an attorney, I think the cost for someone familiar with this area of law would cost more than the value of my claim.

Ohio, I was not aware that you filed a claim for $21k. I was suggesting you file a claim in order to get you in the game. Congratulations! I do not think you have a good claim for the $35k contract value plus the $21k. You may wish to amend your $21k claim by adding $9k for the total max you mentioned. Commentators here have noted many unknowns about your contract. If you believe the government contract required it to order all the contract work from you, I believe that would help support your total claim.

Edited by Neil Roberts
Changed "to to "from" in last sentence
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22 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

You didn’t say what the contract was for.. construction, service, etc. Or what, if any, clauses are in your small contract.

See this link. It might or might not be applicable: https://www.oles.com/blog/far-suspension-of-work-v-stop-work-order-what-contractors-need-to-know/

Sorry, it was a construction service contract to dismantle structures.

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