It takes a special kind of electrical contractor to provide electrical service for federal, state and local government buildings and facilities. All government projects must be carried out with great sensitivity, since they require a greater level of safety and security standards than typical commercial or residential jobs.
Government jobs are unique
Billions of dollars every year are spent on government contracts, and strict standards and specifications need to be followed by every subcontractor, including electrical contractors. Government electrical contractors need to be prepared to make competitive bids for projects, particularly for federal ones since they are always in control when it comes to standard specifications and terms and conditions of contracts.
Federal acquisition regulations
Government electrical contractors need to follow standard terms and conditions as well as federal acquisition regulations (FARs). These specifications are enforced and interpreted by boards of contract appeals. When working on federal jobs, government contractors can browse a wide range of case law to provide guidance on any contract disputes that may arise. This gives contractors some level of predictability in terms of how a decision regarding an individual project will be rendered.
Ordinary jobs can follow a design/build approach, since contractors have greater levels of professionalism in their specific area of expertise (for example, an electrical contractor or building envelope contractor). Design/build contracts are also monitored by federal agencies that have experience with FARs. In other words, the government still has full control over the design and execution of projects.
If you’ve provided the government with detailed specs and drawings, you need to meet certain performance standards or risk the chance of a dispute. To resolve these disputes, boards will look at individual specs and determine whether they relate to design or performance. Obviously, when performance is a concern, the contractor will have to follow specs to the letter, while those that put too much of a burden on the contractor to deliver a workable result can be adjusted in some cases.
The dispute process
All government contractors will file a dispute according to standard procedure, and appeals are filed in a standard way, too. Claims and disputes in government contracts are actually quite common, and you can find advice on the types of damages that are recoverable as well as what proof you must show to recover. Check your government printing office or make a Freedom of Information Act request from the agency to for a manual with all relevant information.
The Severin doctrine
This doctrine comes from English common law and states that the government was immune from lawsuits unless it consented to be sued. Issuing a contract is generally seen as consent. While laws vary from state to state and among municipalities, there’s usually an overlay of federal regulations on top of state-sponsored projects. It’s always advisable to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney if you have questions regarding government contracts.
When you need the expert assistance of a team of professional government electrical contractors with specialized expertise in handling government projects, contact Walsh Electric today. With decades of experience in the industry, we know and understand the strict regulations and sensitive security matters involved with these projects.