Federal government contracts are governed by a complex web of statutes and regulations. These laws control not only how a contractor may perform a contract, but how they can seek compensation for unanticipated costs and delays, and the manner in which they must deal with a dispute against the agency owner. Getting paid for issues that arise during performance requires a detailed understanding of the applicable laws and processes and, more specifically, a thorough understanding of the two critical tools for seeking compensation: REAs and Claims.
In this program, experienced government contracting attorneys Maria Panichelli and Michael Richard will discuss how to use these tools, the differences between them, and when to use what. Attendees will get a primer on Requests for Equitable Adjustment (REAs), explaining how contractors can use REAs to seek an increase to the price or duration of their federal contracts. Next, the instructors will cover claims, with a specific focus on the differences between REAs and claims, and an explanation concerning when each strategy is more appropriate. Maria and Michael will also discuss the claims appeal and litigation process, as well as common government defenses.
Maria is a partner and the Chair of the Government Contracting department. She focuses her practice exclusively on federal government contracting and procurement, guiding her clients throughout the entire lifecycle of their federal contracts. She provides comprehensive legal counseling that allows her clients to successfully navigate the complicated legal requirements related to federal contracting while fulfilling their own business goals.
Maria’s prior legal experience in corporate litigation and risk management counseling has given Maria a unique perspective. Recognizing that a client must focus on what is best for business, her goal is to never unilaterally dictate strategy. She seeks to provide clients with the legal advice they need to make the right business decision. To that end, she works with her clients, providing counseling on the law while simultaneously being counseled by the client about their particular business needs. Maria works to find a solution that not only solves a client’s legal issues, but advances that client’s business plan and is consistent with that client’s mission.
In her free time, Maria is an avid world traveler. Traveling to a new destination, doing a history tour, and then meeting locals and talking to them about their history, culture and current events is her ideal vacation. When she’s not on the move, she can still be found eagerly researching her next destination and its culture, religion, customs, and history.
Maria’s practice includes pre- and post-award bid protests, contract interpretation and performance counseling, the preparation of Requests for Equitable Adjustment and Contract Disputes Act (CDA) claim litigation, statutory and regulatory compliance counseling, resolution of subcontractor disputes (including the negotiation of liquidating agreements, and the use of pass-through claims and Miller Act bond claims), contract terminations, and all aspects of small business procurement. She has represented a wide variety of government prime and subcontractors including construction contractors, information technology and information system contractors, medical staffing contractors, advisory and assistant services contractors, security contractors, dredging contractors, environmental remediation contractors, and suppliers. Her clients are located, and work, both across the United States and abroad.
Having acquired substantial experience with the government’s 8(a), SDVOSB, WOSB and HUBZone small business programs in particular, Maria provides effective assistance to clients applying for small business certification, or competing for small business program set-aside contracts. She routinely assists clients with eligibility analyses and certifications, has successfully challenged negative agency findings with regard to clients’ SDVOSB, HUBZone and 8(a) eligibility, and has successfully defeated size and status protests brought by clients’ competitors. Maria has considerable experience drafting teaming and joint venture agreements, as well as helping clients navigate the SBA Mentor-protégé programs. Maria advises small business clients with regard to potential affiliation and control problems, as well as subcontracting requirements. Her small business practice also involves drafting corporate governance documents that will comply with small business program eligibility requirements.
Maria has represented her clients before numerous federal agencies, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Contract Boards of Appeals as well as the Court of Federal Claims and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and other state and federal courts. Though her practice is not limited to construction alone, Maria has substantial experience with a wide range of construction related issues such as: defective designs; defective specifications; differing site conditions; express, implied and constructive changes; suspensions; delays; and liquidated damages.
Michael is an attorney in Obermayer’s Government Contracting Department, where he excels at getting clients to the settlement table. Michael’s tenacity is truly a force to be reckoned with. Over the past two years alone, he has settled over $30 million in claims against the United States government.
While Michael enjoys fighting for his clients and winning cases on the merits, his goal is always to reach a reasonable settlement to avoid the costs and risks of trial. That is why he continues to pursue settlement right up until the eve of trial, and has even resolved cases on the courthouse steps. In the very rare instances where there is no satisfactory settlement to be had, Michael has the experience and know how to resolve the case with maximum efficiency through summary judgment motions, submission on the record, or at trial.
Michael is a self-described “law nerd” who truly enjoys the complexities and depth of the law on government contracts. He enjoys diving into the case law to find the right answer, the answer that helps his clients resolve their disputes in the most efficient manner possible. He also keeps a library with highlighted copies of every case he has read during his entire career. This allows Michael to both quickly access the relevant case law when an issue comes up, but also to maintain a breadth of knowledge on the subject of government contracts that is both wide and deep.
In his free time, Michael enjoys playing strategy games, reading science fiction, swimming, and spending time with his wife, kids, and dog.