Consolidation of Boards of Contract Appeals: An Old Idea Whose Time Has Come?

31 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2004

See all articles by Frederick J. Lees

Frederick J. Lees

George Washington University - Law School


In March, 2002, President Bush proposed consolidating the eight existing federal civilian agency boards of contract appeals into a single civilian board as part of a comprehensive, thirteen-part program to help the nation's small businesses. The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals would not be affected. Juxtapositioned alongside the administration proposal were two draft bills sponsored by the Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, which would create two new special panels, one for civilian agencies and the other for the Defense Department, while retaining the multiple existing boards. The Panels would hear appeals of contract disputes involving only small businesses.

Although no formal action has been taken on either proposal, this article offers background, insight, and empirical data relevant to these contract dispute resolution initiatives.

Initially, the article considers whether a sufficient small business appeals workload exists to warrant a radical departure from the current disputes resolution system and whether small businesses truly are disadvantaged in processing appeals before multiple agency boards. The author concludes that no empirical basis exists for adding or subtracting administrative tribunals for the benefit of small businesses when premised only on disparity or complexity in existing board rules.

The article next examines the dramatic decline in the contract appeals workload during the past 15 years. Board workload statistics suggest that only two of the current agency boards of contract appeals meet the criteria of OFPP Policy Letter 79-2 for their continued establishment. The author recommends consolidation of all civilian agency boards into a single board. Such consolidation would increase management efficiency, judicial economy, and eliminate the multiple sets of Board Rules with their perceived disadvantages to small businesses. The article concludes with a proposed course of action for implementing a newly constituted Civilian Board of Contract Appeals in FY 2005.

Keywords: government contracts, disputes, boards of contract appeals

JEL Classification: H57, K23, K41

Suggested Citation

Lees, Frederick J., Consolidation of Boards of Contract Appeals: An Old Idea Whose Time Has Come?. Available at SSRN:

Frederick J. Lees (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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