GSA Schedule Contract Disputes: Which Contracting Officer Decides?

The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals recently addressed the question of which contracting officer must decide disputes concerning GSA schedule contracts–the GSA CO or the Ordering Office CO.  FAR 8.406 says both.  It gives the CO from the Ordering Office (in this case, the EEOC) the authority to issue final decisions on disputes “pertaining to the performance of orders.” The GSA schedule CO is given authority to issue final decisions on disputes “pertaining to the terms and conditions” of the schedule contracts.

EEOC decided not to exercise the option years of a delivery order for leasing commercial IT equipment, citing lack of appropriations as the authority for the non-exercise.   Asserting a wrongful decision, GTSI filed a claim with both contracting officers, EEOC and GSA.  The Board held that the EEOC CO had authority to issue the final decision because the terms and operation of the GSA contract’s termination clause wasn’t at issue here—rather, the issue was “was the status of EEOC’s appropriations sufficient to invoke the termination for non-appropriation clause.”  The Board held that the terms and conditions of the GSA schedule contract were only “tangentially at issue.”  GTSI has the next-to-last word however, because the decision notes that GTSI docketed two appeals—one from the EEOC’s decision denying the claim and the other, from GSA’s deemed denial of its claim (GSA never issued a final decision). The Board retained jurisdiction on the EEOC appeal, and said it will rule on the merits of EEOC’s reasoning.  GTSI Corp. v. Equal Employ. Oppty Comm., CBCA 2718, 2719 (Sept. 14, 2012).

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