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Posted on Friday, June 22, 2012

Contracting Options and Rights Expand

A recent Board of Contract Appeals case highlights that government contractors may be missing out on new business opportunities available under the GSA Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) by not taking advantage of a direct teaming opportunity unique to the GSA FSS.

Although teaming in government contracting is common among vendors, it can take a variety of forms.  FAR 9.601 describes some of them, including a “contractor team arrangement” (CTA).  This differs from more traditional arrangements, such as teaming agreements and joint ventures.  One variation of such an arrangement is the GSA Schedule CTA, a particularly useful approach because it allows vendors who have an FSS contract for some but not all work the government needs under a particular solicitation to team up with another vendor to fill in that gap with its own FSS contract.

Litigation highlighing the rights of CTA team members is rare. However, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals recently resolved the issue of whether an individual team member, as opposed to the team leader, can file and recover a payment claim.  In Lockheed Martin Aspen Medical Services  v. Dept. of Health and Human Services, a CTA member appealed an adverse decision by a contracting officer rejecting a claim for payment, where the government asked the Board to dismiss the case since it was not filed by the CTA team leader whose name was actually on the underlying contract. According to the government, the company filing the claim was not in privity with the government, but was simply a subcontractor and therefore had no right to pursue the case.

The Board nevertheless rejected the government’s argument for dismissal and concluded that the member of the CTA was in privity with the government because the agency itself had dealt directly with each team member.  Since the petitioner provided services under its own FSS contract, the contractor was deemed to possess an existing government contract under which it was providing services to the government, rather than stemming from a prime contract that flowed down to subcontractor.  Companies need to be aware of this development and learn more about its options including CTAs, which present a unique opportunity to directly generate and get paid for work without relying on any assistance from a prime or team leader.