The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit), partially reversing a 2005 decision of the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA), held that that a Navy Resident Officer in Charge of Contracts (ROICC) lacked the authority to commit the Government to several compensable changes to a facility renovation contract.Winter v. Cath-dr/Balti Joint Venture, No. 2006-1359 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 17, 2007). The Federal Circuit held that, because the contract expressly reserved the authority to modify the contract to the Contracting Officer, the ROICC (who was also the Project Manager) did not have actual express or implied authority to direct the contractor to perform compensable contract changes. Although the Navy’s presentation at the preconstruction conference (which the Contracting Officer was required, but failed, to attend) indicated that the ROICC could agree to bilateral contract modifications and could direct unilateral modifications, the Federal Circuit stated that these Navy directives contradicted the clear language of the contract “and it is the contract which governs.” However, the court remanded the case to the ASBCA to consider whether the Contracting Officer ratified some of the ROICC-directed changes, an issue which the board had not addressed.
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