Department of Transportation v. Eagle Peak Rock & Paving, Inc., No. 21-1837 (Fed. Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) contracted with Eagle for construction work in Yellowstone National Park, to be completed by October 2018. The contract required Eagle to submit a schedule detailing how it would complete the project on time. By late January 2017, FHWA had rejected Eagle’s eight formal schedule submissions as not complying with the contract. In February 2017, the contracting officer terminated the contract for default, concluding that Eagle was insufficiently likely to complete the project on time.
Eagle challenged the termination for default under the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (CDA), 41 U.S.C. 7101–7109, before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, which ruled that the termination for default was improper. The Board converted the termination to one for the convenience of the government, relying heavily, though not exclusively, on its view of deficiencies in the contracting officer’s reasoning, rather than on de novo findings about whether the record developed before the Board showed that standard for termination for default was met. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded for the Board to adjudicate the case de novo. The Board’s evaluation of the contracting officer’s reasoning exceeded the limited scope of the threshold inquiry. The Board also failed to separate that threshold analysis from its de novo evaluation of the evidence.