MAIL BAG: FAILURE TO PAY ATTENTION IS NOT A CONTRACT DEFENSE
Returning reader R. Zellweger writes: “We lost our contract manager in a kiln explosion last year. Since then, we haven’t filed a sales report or modified our contract, even though we’ve been selling new items. Is there a grace period for people like us?” Sorry, R, but government contracting can be an unforgiving mistress. Your company is required to pay attention to the terms and conditions of your contract at all times. There is no free pass just because you weren’t looking. Your contracts must be modified to include new products. Sales reports and fee submissions must be done on time. After all, it’s the government’s money you’re withholding. The best practice when there is a lapse is to explain your circumstance to the CO, preferably with a mod request to add items you’ve been improperly calling contract items. A reporting and remittance plan also needs to be prepared and ready to go. Many CO’s will also likely want to see an action plan on how you won’t let these lapses happen again. It’s also never a bad idea to bring in experienced consultants or outside counsel to assist. They’ve probably seen it before and can guide your company back to good health. Failing to pay attention can cost you your contract, which, in turn, can cost you sales and can even result in fines. That’s no way to keep up with the Joneses!