Advising Federal Contractors Regarding Contract Changes

Streams live on: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 02:30pm EDT

Course Format Webcast

Taught by


Course Description

Estimated Duration 60 Minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Contract changes are a fundamental part of government contracting, so much so that all government contracts include some version of the changes clause. But implementing those changes - and negotiating the associated costs - can be a difficult process with a steep learning curve.

This program, taught by experienced government contracting attorneys Maria Panichelli and Michael Richard of Cohen Seglias, will cover simple rules to use in guiding your clients to avoid disruptions to the project and increase the likelihood of prompt payment.

The course will discuss how to determine if a government request is a change to the contract and the types of changes that are most likely to cause conflicts, including real world examples of changes in a variety of contracts, such as design, construction, and service contracts. The program will also cover the way that a lack of communication and misconceptions about the authority of government personnel can cause conflicts, featuring specific examples of mistakes on both sides of the contract.

Special attention will be given to communication, professionalism and the proper role of performance reviews in the negotiation process. Finally Maria and Michael will provide a few simple rules to avoid conflict and promote payment. The presentation will feature the latest legal developments on a variety of topics related to contract changes, including the DRChecks system, the authority of government personnel to direct changes, and performance reviews in CPARS.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Apply the changes clause to various real world scenarios
  2. Discuss the function and enforceability of notice requirements in federal contracts
  3. Review the basics of contracting authority and how to advise clients regarding unauthorized direction
  4. Encourage professionalism amongst the parties to the contract to create positive outcomes for federal contractors


Maria L. Panichelli

Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC

MARIA L. PANICHELLI is a Partner in the Firm’s Construction and Federal Contracting Groups. As a member of the Federal Group, Maria represents a national client base of prime and sub­contractors, with a focus on federal construction contracting, and small business procurement issues.

Maria's practice spans a variety of federal contracting matters, including bid protests, REAs, contract claims, and appeals. She has represented clients before numerous Federal agencies, the Government Accountability Office, and various Federal and state courts, and has litigated cases covering a wide range of construction-related issues such as defective designs, defective specifications, differing site conditions, changes, suspensions, delays, and contract terminations. Maria frequently counsels clients with regards to compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations, Prompt Payment Act, and False Claims Act.

Maria also counsels clients in all aspects of small business procurement. Having acquired substantial experience with the government's 8(a), SDVOSB, WOSB and HUBZone small business programs, Maria provides effective assistance to clients applying for small business status, or competing for small business program set­aside contracts. Maria further specializes in small business eligibility issues. She has successfully challenged negative agency findings with regard to clients’ SDVOSB and 8(a) eligibility, and successfully defeated size and status related bid protests brought by competitors. Maria has considerable experience drafting teaming and joint venture agreements, and advising small business clients with regard to potential affiliation problems and subcontracting requirements. Her small business practice also involves drafting corporate governance documents that will comply with small business program eligibility requirements.

Prior to joining Cohen Seglias, Maria handled complex commercial and corporate litigation before the Delaware Chancery Court.

Maria is active in a number of federal contracting­ and/or construction-­related professional associations, and is a frequent contributor to the Firm's Federal    Construction Contracting Blog. She works closely with several Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, providing educational content for a variety of government contractors. Maria is also a community partner at Govology, a legal content contributor to VetLikeMe, Targetgov, and Onvia, and a faculty member at the Government  Contracting  Institute.

Michael A. Richard

Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC

Michael A. Richard is an Associate in the Federal Contracting Group and focuses his practice on government contracts and construction litigation. He represents clients in all aspects of federal contracting including bid protests, claim drafting, administrative dispute resolution procedures and litigation in the federal courts. Michael helps small businesses navigate the requirements of the SBA such as size determinations and NAICS code appeals. He also assists contractors with their day-to-day business challenges including, drafting and negotiating contracts, and contract administration.

Michael represents clients in all stages of litigation from assessing claims and developing case strategy, to discovery, motion practice and appeals. He helps contractors pursue claims for delay, impacts, disruption, differing site conditions and design defects. He represents contractors in disputes regarding pass-through claims, prompt payment requirements, prevailing wage issues, the assessment of liquidated damages and Miller Act bond claims. Michael negotiates settlements for construction clients in a variety of matters including construction defects, design errors, manufacturing defects and supplier failure.

Prior to law school, Michael managed luxury hotels in New Orleans. Working in the hospitality industry taught Michael the value of good business practices as well as the importance of proactively protecting your business against potential liability. Working in the French Quarter also taught him to keep a cool head under pressure, which continues to serve him well today as a litigator.


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