The Department of Energy announced today that it has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the United States Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) to enable the Department’s lab and facility management and operation (M&O) contractors to employ the CBCA for mediation, arbitration, and other alternative dispute resolution services. Earlier this year, the Department clarified that M&O contractors are permitted to include binding arbitration clauses in their contracts with others, and, indeed, that arbitration may often be a desirable alternative to litigation where disputes arise. That guidance is available here.
The CBCA has extensive experience mediating, arbitrating, and otherwise resolving disputes involving the Federal Acquisition Regulation and other agency procurement regulations, and, therefore, may often be a desirable forum for such dispute resolution proceedings. However, the CBCA ordinarily offers such services only where one of the parties is a government entity. Under the Agreement signed yesterday, the CBCA can offer its services to the Department’s M&Os – thus helping them carry out the critical energy, scientific, and security missions they perform on behalf of the government. The Agreement gives the M&Os an expert, potentially cost-effective forum in which to resolve disputes that may arise with their subcontractors.