A recent decision from the United States Court of Federal Claims (COFC) sets forth the standard for when the government’s failure to make a decision on a certified claim will be considered a deemed denial. InRudolph and Sletten, Inc. v. U.S., the COFC clarified the Contract Disputes Act (CDA) timing requirement for the government to issue a decision on a certified claim.
In Rudolph and Sletten, the contractor, Rudolph and Sletten (R&S), submitted a certified claim seeking a time extension and additional costs related to a contract for the construction of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center Replacement Headquarters and Laboratory in La Jolla, California. R&S originally submitted its certified claim on August 20, 2013. On October 21, 2013, the contracting officer advised R&S that, given the complexity of the claim, he would need additional time to issue a decision and advised that a decision would be made within nine months. R&S then requested that the contracting officer provide an explanation or work plan detailing the reason for the nine-month extension. The contracting officer provided R&S the explanation and stated that a decision would be made by July 15, 2014. On July 8, 2014, however, the contracting officer informed R&S that he would not reach a final decision on R&S’s first claim by July 15, 2014 as originally estimated, and that, instead, a final decision would be forthcoming on March 15, 2015. R&S then filed an action in the COFC on July 23, 2014. The government sought to dismiss the case before the COFC on the basis that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, because no final decision had been issued by the contracting officer as required by the CDA. R&S argued that the contracting officer’s failure to issue a decision within the required time constituted a deemed denial.
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