The Contract Disputes Act of 1978, 41 U.S.C. §§ 7101-7109, directs that boards of contract appeals provide informal, expeditious, and inexpensive ways to resolve contract issues in controversy. Toward this end, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) encourages parties to consider the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedures at all stages of a contract controversy: pre-appeal, post-appeal, and post-hearing - whenever the parties believe that a neutral third person may be helpful to the settlement process. The CBCA makes its judges available to serve as ADR Neutrals.
ADR is always voluntary and all parties as well as the ADR Neutral must agree ADR is appropriate for the matter. The ADR procedures described below are not intended to replace a party's right to fully adjudicate its appeal, but are meant to supplement that right and provide more flexible choices for parties to resolve their differences.
ADR procedures should be tailored to suit the parties' particular needs. Adoption of an ADR procedure as early in the appeal process as feasible can save parties substantial costs and delay and can help them maintain or restore amicable relations. Parties should never regard ADR and a willingness to discuss matters in which they disagree as a weakness. Finally, parties should keep in mind that the success of ADR depends upon both parties coming to an ADR proceeding well prepared and having a firm, good faith commitment to resolve their differences. Without that commitment, the best structured dispute resolution procedure cannot succeed.
The ADR procedures described below have worked very well in the past. The names used for the various procedures are not meant to limit the parties' choices. They are set forth simply to give the parties ideas of the kinds of processes that can be used. Any procedure or a combination of procedures that brings parties together in settlement or partial settlement of their disputes is a good procedure. When the parties structure the ADR procedures to be used in their case, they should focus on the role the ADR Neutral might play. The Neutral can assist in defining that role as part of an ADR Agreement.
A CBCA judge who serves as an ADR Neutral will maintain the confidentiality established for ADR under the Board's rules
In addition to other ADR procedures, including modifications to those listed above, as agreed to by the CBCA and the parties, the parties may use ADR Neutrals outside the CBCA or techniques that do not require direct CBCA involvement.
The Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group's Contracts and Procurement Section has created a guide to ADR in government procurement. The guide is designed to help the public and Government employees quickly access procurement ADR information. It includes: definitions and legal authorities, proactive techniques to adopt during acquisition planning stages to manage conflict and turn conflicts into opportunities, ADR in bid protests, and solving problems during contract administration at both the claim stage and when before a board or court.