U.S. Court of Federal Claims Appeals and Bid protest Litigation Lawyers

Nationwide COFC Bid Protest, Contract Disputes Act Appeals, Federal Claims Court Attorneys Washington DC

Getting an adverse decision from the Contracting Officer can severely impact your company’s future. Was there a legal mistake made? Bring your case to the US Court of Federal Claims Washington DC appeals court (COFC) can make a difference. Whether the situation involves a bid protest, a termination for default, or Contract Disputes Act claims denial or an improper small business decision from SBA OHA, an experienced government procurement lawyer could unveil serious errors made by the agency.  Watson & Associates’ government contract attorneys have years of experience litigating appellate cases before the Federal Claims Court

Watson & Associates government contract law attorneys have aggressively represented contractors in appellate cases at the US Court of Federal Claims Washington DC Appeals Court. The law firm litigates critical federal procurement disputes including bid protests, contract disputes, small business matters, and more.  

As a government contractor, it is important to know that the  COFC has subject matter jurisdiction over many federal procurement appeal disputes resulting from the contracting officer’s or agency’s final decision.  This includes bid protests, Contract Disputes Act claims, government small business regulations and SBA programs.

As government procurement appellate lawyers, with law offices in Washington, D.C and Colorado, the law firm offers experienced legal counsel, some of who have actually worked for federal agencies.  

Get a Careful Review of the Agency’s Record

Oftentimes, an appeal or bid protest at the Federal Claims Court requires a careful review of the record at the Agency level. This court does not overturn all errors at the contracting officer level. There has to be some level of prejudicial error and some mistake that translates to reversible error. The Court of Federal Claims lawyers at Watson & Associates, LLC will carefully evaluate the agency’s decision, documentation, and evidence to see if it meets the legal standard for the Court to overturn the lower decision. For clients that are seeking to appeal a decision from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, our federal appeal lawyers and government contract protest attorneys also litigate matters at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit appellate attorneys.

Bid Protest Process Court of Federal Claims

The bid protest process at the Court of Federal Claims resembles litigation in a traditional court of law. You have to file a complaint that serves as the bid protest. The litigation involves a more formal process that includes motions, arguments, and injunctions to stop the procurement (no automatic stay)

No automatic stay: The Court of Federal Claims bid protest process does not include an automatic stay similar to GAO cases. Instead, the bid protest attorney must file a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO). If successfully argued to the Court, this form of injunctive relief will serve as an order to the agency to suspend further action on the contract until the bid protest decision is made. To get a stay on the contract in a COFC bid protest, the court will consider four factors: (1) immediate and irreparable injury, (2) likelihood of a successful protest on the merits, (3) suspending the contract would be in the public interest, and (4) hardship on the parties (government and contractors).  These four factors are a high bar for a protestor and far from automatic.

The process starts with filing the bid protest complaint. COFC bid protest attorneys must file a prefiling notice to the court one day before to the successful offeror, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), and the respective agency contracting officer.

The second part of the process allows for intervenors(intervention).  Under the Court of Federal Claims (RCFC) 24(a),  an interested party, with standing must file a timely motion to intervene. This allows the successful offeror the opportunity to participate in the lawsuit. Intervening in a COFC bid protest allows the company to protect its own economic interest and not rely on the government to do it for them.   At any time, either party may choose to file motions to dismiss or other litigation motions relevant to the case.

The third phase of the Court of Federal Claims bid protest process deals with the Administrative Record.  The participants admitted to the protective order can receive the agency administrative record (AR) which contains all solicitation and procurement documents, bids, agency source selection documents, memoranda, award letters, and all other pertinent documentation.  This is one advantage of filing a COFC bid protest whereas, at the GAO, the parties may receive fewer documents that are very strategically picked.

The fourth main phase of the COFC bid protest process includes cross-motions and oral arguments if the court requests.  This is where the judge will review the motions, hear oral arguments if necessary, and make a binding decision for the parties.

The fifth phase of the Court of Federal Claims bid protest process is the decision to appeal. When the judge issues an adverse decision, the aggrieved party may file a COFC bid protest appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Watson & Associates bid protest appeal lawyers can bring appellate cases before the federal circuit court on behalf of our clients.

Recouping attorney fees: If small businesses prevail in a COFC bid protest lawsuit, they can recoup a portion of their attorney fees through the Equal Access to Justice Act ( EAJA)

The United States Court of Federal Claims hears a vast amount of cases against the government including, but not limited to, federal contract disputes, government contract bid protests, takings claims, tax refund suits, Patent and copyright matters, Indian claims, civilian and military pay cases, and vaccine cases.

Court of Federal Claims Jurisdiction

When filing an appeal at the Court of Federal Claims, you must show that the court has subject matter jurisdiction to hear your case. The Court cannot hear the case on the merits before jurisdiction is present. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env’t, 523 U.S. 83, 88-89 (1998). Any party to the dispute may challenge the Court’s jurisdiction. The Court, may by its own choice (sua sponte) raise the question of whether there is subject matter jurisdiction. See  Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 126 S. Ct. 1235, 1240 (2006). At Watson & Associates, we help clients to assess the critical issue of the court’s ability to hear the appeal.  Common issues that may arise include:

  • Whether the contractor fulfilled the statutory requirements (usually Contract Disputes Act) before submitting the dispute to the contracting officer
  • Whether the contracting officer made a final decision, or
  • Whether the Appellant completed the agency process (exhausted administrative remedies) before petitioning the court.

Court of Federal Claims Bid Protest Litigation Lawyers

If you received an adverse decision from the GAO, you file a new bid protest at the Court of Federal Claims. COFC bid protest litigation after receiving a GAO decision can be tricky. Having an experienced government contract protest attorney that can minimize costly legal mistakes can be beneficial.  Government contractors should also be aware that a Court of Federal Claims protest after a GAO decision is not considered an appeal from GAO. Instead, the protest is considered a new COFC bid protest.

For bid protest cases,  our Federal Claims Court appellate attorneys make sure that the agency follows the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act’ under the “arbitrary and capricious” standard. See 28 USC 1491(b)(4). See also Impresa Construzioni Geom. Domenico Garufi v. United States, 238 F.3d 1324, 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2001). In addition to small business matters before the court, we have experienced federal procurement appellate lawyers and COFC bid protest attorneys that have vast experience with the various substantive legal and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) issues involved in litigation.

Advantages of COFC Bid Protests

One of the clear advantages of filing a bid protest at the  United States Court of Federal Claims in that this court does not have the short deadlines as does the GAO. The COFC does not have defined deadlines. However, post-award protests cannot be filed so late that the government’s attorneys. (DOJ) can argue that you have slept on your rights. See Thinking About Filing a COFC or GAO Bid Protest?

When you file a pre-award bid protest at the COFC, you must still file before the closing date for receipt of proposals. See Blue & Gold Fleet, L.P. v. U.S., 492 F.3d 1308, 1315 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (“a party who has the opportunity to object to the terms of a government solicitation containing a patent error and fails to do so prior to the close of the bidding process waives its ability to raise the same objection afterward in a § 1491(b) action in the Court of Federal Claims”.)

  • The COFC decision will be binding on the GAO case
  • Note that although not a GAO protest appeal, the COFC court will still review the GAO bid protest file.

The third advantage of the Court of Federal Claims bid protest process is that although it is arguably the more expensive. Federal judges who are appointed for life, can also make an impartial ruling. Contractors with millions to lose in a government protest tend to bring their cases before the COFC. See additional tips on filing bid protests at the Court of Federal Claims.

  • Procedurally, when litigating at GAO, there is arguably no direct path to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
  • When you litigate a bid protest at the COFC, an adverse ruling can give you appeal rights to the Federal Circuit. Many government contractors do not like to close their options.

Common Reasons to File a Bid Protest at the Court of Federal Claims

Although the Court of Federal Claims bid protest avenue is somewhat expensive, many government contractors prefer to file at the COFC because:

The Contractor prefers a decision from a federal judge. It believes that the GAO decision was incorrect and needs a federal judge to look at the new protest. In this case, one can potentially initiate any additional protest reasons that may not have been brought at the GAO level. 

The protestor missed the filing deadline with the GAO protest.  The COFC bid protest rules to not impose a ten-day filing deadline as is the case for GAO bid protests. However, contractors cannot wait extremely long times to file a COFC protest.

Get more documents from the agency record. Government Contractors litigating Court of Federal Claims bid protests use this venue to get agency documents that the Agency may not have produced at the GAO level. 

Common Strategic Reason Why Contractors Prefer to File COFC Bid Protests

When the stakes are high and the issues in the case require the entire agency record, government contractors would file a bid protest at the Court of Federal Claims. COFC bid protest requires the agency to produce the entire administrative record. This is not the case at the GAO.  As the Plaintiff at the COFC, your COFC bid protest lawyer can review the record for completeness and supplementation to the record. It is not unheard of that during a GAO protest, in comparison to the COFC bid protest, agency personnel would only provide relevant documents to the allegations in the GAO protest.

COFC Government Contract Small Business Appeals

 The SBA and various agencies issue adverse determinations that severely impact small firms. Watson’s government contract small business lawyers litigate various issues on appeal to the U.S. Claims Court including:

  • Improper small size determination decision
  • Denial of admission into the various SBA programs
  • Improper denial of contractor claims
  • Termination for default

 Federal Claims Court Appeals Lawyers for Contract Disputes Act Litigation

Most agency actions during contract performance are covered under the Contract Disputes Act. When the agency issues a contracting officer’s final decision, you have a timeline to file an appeal at the Federal Claims Court. The COFC appeals lawyers at Watson & Associates, LLC  have vast experience with various types of cases. They include:

  • Construction claims
  • Differing site conditions
  • Failure to follow CDA requirements
  • Breach of contract in federal contracts cases
  • Contract delays
  • Constructive termination cases

INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS AND NATIONWIDE HELP FOR FEDERAL CONTRACTORS

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Call Watson’s Washington DC COFC Appeal Lawyers

Get immediate help and aggressive legal representation with cases involving claims against the United States: To increase your chances of winning appellate litigation and appeals with Court of Federal Claims appeals decisions call our Washington DC Government Contract appeal Lawyers at 1-866-601-5518. FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.