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CFC Exercises Jurisdiction over Performance Evaluation Dispute

The Court of Federal Claims asserted jurisdiction over a dispute involving a negative performance evaluation because the government's jurisdictional challenge was unsupported and the exercise of jurisdiction was consistent with the Tucker Act and the Contract Disputes Act. The air traffic management contractor sought a declaration that its performance evaluation was "false and highly prejudicial" and an injunction requiring the government to revise or rescind the Contractor Performance Assessment Report and the entry in its past performance database. In its motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, the government cited a statement in a decision of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that "Congress intended to ensure "jurisdictional parity" between the boards of contract appeals and the Court of Federal Claims" in the 1992 amendments to the Tucker Act (Alliant Techsystems, Inc., et al. v. U.S., 43 CCF 77,478). According to the government, since the boards consistently ruled they did not possess jurisdiction to review performance evaluations, "jurisdictional parity" precluded the CFC from exercising jurisdiction over performance evaluations.
Consistent with Statutory Scheme

However, the government misinterpreted Alliant Techsystems, board rulings are not binding on the CFC, and the board decisions cited by the government were unpersuasive. Allowing challenges to performance evaluations in the CFC "is in complete harmony with the overall jurisdictional scheme fashioned by Congress in enacting and amending the Tucker Act." As originally enacted in 1887, the Tucker Act granted the claims court jurisdiction over "all claims founded ... upon any contract, expressed or implied, with the [g]overnment," and this basic jurisdictional grant has remained intact. Today, the CFC possesses jurisdiction over both protests and contract disputes, which "allows it to render decisions with an eye towards the overall government contracting process." Moreover, "performance evaluations are best made within the confines of the CDA, thus allowing the contractor and the government to avoid unnecessary and disruptive bid protests" that could arise if a contractor was required to "wait and lodge a protest when the performance evaluation played a role in an unsuccessful bid on a future contract." (BLR Group of America, Inc. v. U.S., FedCl, 53 CCF 79,035)

(The news featured above is a selection from the news covered in the Government Contracts Report Letter, which is published weekly and distributed to subscribers of the Government Contracts Reporter. )


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