The Contract Disputes Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 7101-7109, sets forth certain prerequisites for the exercise of jurisdiction over claims. Among these prerequisites is a six-year statute of limitations, which is applicable to Government and contractor claims alike. With few exceptions, claims submitted more than six years after “accrual” are not valid and cognizable under the CDA.
The obvious question is, when does the clock start – i.e., when does a claim “accrue”? Although the CDA does not define the term accrual, the ASBCA and Court of Federal Claims rely on the FAR 33.201 definition, which describes accrual as “the date when all events, which fix the alleged liability of either the Government or the contractor and permit the assertion of the claim, were known or should have been known.” As you may have guessed by the phrase “known or should have known,” determining when a claim accrues can raise a number of subjective and factual questions (for example, who must know? And when “should” that person have known?). Over the past several years, there have been a number of SOL decisions attempting to clarify this standard in the context of contractor and Government claims (see previous discussions here, here, here, here, here, and here).
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