Most government contractors are well-aware that the road to preserving and pursuing a claim against the government is one where opportunities for contractors to waive or otherwise lose their right to assert valid claims abound. In a decision where form has once again prevailed over substance, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (“the Board”) recently determined in Appeal of NileCo General Contacting LLC that a typewritten signature block in a company director’s email was not a sufficient signature to certify the contractor’s claim under the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”).
In December 2011 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (”USACE”) awarded NileCo General Contracting LLC (“NileCo”) a contract to construct a dining facility and other structures at Manas International Airport in Kyrgyzstan. Two years later, the government suspended work, and directed NileCo to demobilize and quit the site. By July 2016, the government was still withholding payments. NileCo sent the contracting officer a $2,079,137.25 claim. The emailed claim included certification language required by the CDA, but the sender—the contractor’s director, Anwar Ahmed—included only his typewritten name and not an “electronic or digital signature.”
The government’s contracting officer acknowledged receiving NileCo’s email, advised that he needed additional time to prepare his final decision, and stated that the final decision would “be issued by November 20, 2016.” Soon thereafter, the government terminated NileCo’s contract for convenience. Having received no final decision by Nov. 20, 2016, NileCo filed its notice of appeal with the Board. The government sought to dismiss NileCo’s appeal because it contended that NileCo’s email did not constitute a valid claim under the CDA as it did not provide the required certification. Continue Reading Form Matters: Contractor Loses $2M Claim Because Emailed Certification Was Not “Electronically or Digitally” Signed