Posted on 7/23/2011 9:11 AM

The Judicial Role of the Contracting Officer

Abraham Lincoln once said:  "It is as much the duty of the Government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals."  This statement is emblazoned over the entrance to the Court of Federal Claims and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit building not far from the White House.

In 1950, the Court of Claims (predecessor to the present Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) said:

Some contracting officers regard themselves as representatives of the defendant charged with the duty of protecting its interests and of exacting of the contractor everything that may be in the interest of the Government, even though no reasonable basis therefor can be found in the contract documents; but the Supreme Court has said that in settling disputes this is not his function; his function, on the other hand, is to act impartially, weighing with an even hand the rights of the parties on the one hand and on the other.  (The emphasis is mine.)

Amen.

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