[Applicability of Act to Disputes Arising From Transportation Services]

B-207472: Feb 14, 1983

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An advance decision was requested by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) concerning the applicability of the Contract Disputes Act to disputes arising from transportation services furnished under a Government bill of lading. USDA specifically asked whether the authority granted to a contracting officer under the act supersedes the procedures for settling claims and disputes under existing transportation law. Under the Transportation Act of 1940, executive agencies must make payment upon presentation of bills by a carrier prior to audit, whether or not the charges are disputed. The General Services Administration has the authority to audit these charges and settle transportation services claims, and such settlement action may be reviewed by the General Accounting Office. However, under the Contract Disputes Act, the disputes procedures are invoked by filing a claim with the contracting officer whose decision is conclusive unless an appeal is filed with an agency board of contract appeals or the U.S. Claims Court. GAO found that the Contract Disputes Act does not repeal any provision of existing statutes relating to the disputes resolution provisions of the Transportation Act. Further, GAO found nothing in the act or its legislative history which indicates any intent on the part of Congress to extend Contract Disputes Act coverage to transportation claims under the Transportation Act. Therefore, GAO concluded that the Contract Disputes Act is not applicable to the procurement of such transportation services.