Steve McBradySkye MathiesonCharles BaekLaura Baker

ABS Development Corp. (ASBCA Nov. 17, 2016) highlights the importance of providing a fully-compliant certification for CDA claims over $100,000—which includes, according to the Board, the requirement for contractors to provide an identifiable and verifiable handwritten signature or digital e-signature. As the contractor in ABS discovered, the Board considers “typewritten” signatures, regardless of font, to be insufficient.

In ABS, the Board dismissed for lack of jurisdiction certain contractor claims that had been “certified” by means of typewritten names (in signature-font) because a typewritten name “cannot be authenticated, and, therefore, is not a signature.” The Board made clear that the CDA’s purpose is to bind contractors by means of a signed certificate that “cannot be easily disavowed by the purported author.” The Board explained that a signature “is a discrete, verifiable symbol that is sufficiently distinguishable to authenticate that the certification was issued with the purported author’s knowledge and consent or to establish his intent to certify.” Because anyone could type another person’s name on a signature block, the purported author could
disavow the certification and the signature would be nearly impossible to authenticate.

As such, the Board held that a typewritten signature was invalid and rendered the certification essentially “unsigned.” Because an unsigned certificate “is a [jurisdictional] defect that cannot be corrected,” the Board rejected the contractor’s request to cure its mistake (by submitting a substitute wet-ink signature) and instead dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Of note, the ABS decision expanded on the Board’s 2008 decision of Teknocraft Inc., in which the Board clarified that the representative mark “ //signed// ” on a claim certification was likewise insufficient to satisfy the CDA’s jurisdictional requirements. Both decisions should serve as reminders to contractors of the importance of strict adherence to statutory requirements and the Board’s rules.

 

*Associate Laura Baker (not admitted in the District of Columbia; practice supervised by partners of the firm) also contributed to this post