United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently held, in K-Con, Inc. v. Secretary of Army, that the bonding requirements under the Miller Act apply to federal government construction contracts, even when the bonding provisions were not part of the contract.
The Miller Act, as implemented at FAR 28.102-1, requires that before any contract of more than $150,000 is awarded for the construction, alteration, or repair of any public building or public work of the Federal Government, a person must furnish to the Government, performance and payment bonds, which become binding when the contract is awarded.
The Appeals Court cited a doctrine first articulated in G. L. Christian & Assocs. v. United States, 312 F.2d 418 (popularly known as the Christian Doctrine) in arriving at this decision.
Under the Christian Doctrine, a court may insert a clause into a government contract by operation of law if:
- that clause is mandatory under applicable federal administrative regulations; and
- it expresses a significant or deeply ingrained strand of public procurement policy.
The court found that the Miller Act bonding requirements are mandatory, because FAR Sections 28.102-1 and 28.102-3 require the bonds and direct the insertion of the clauses into federal government construction contracts. The court further found that Miller Act bonding requirements are “deeply ingrained” in public procurement policy. The Miller Act bonding requirements were thus held to be incorporated into federal government construction contracts by operation of law, at the time the contracts were awarded, under the Christian Doctrine.
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