The first Board of Contract Appeals to fully enter the digital age is the Postal Service Board of Contract Appeals, which recently issued new rules on electronic filing. Although the PSBCA hears claims against the agency that provides U.S. Mail, that method of filing will no longer be allowed (absent permission). The Postal Service, however, is not a Luddite agency and has embraced modern technology in running its business.
Effective July 2, 2015, PSBCA filings must be made electronically unless permission to submit physical filings is requested and obtained. The website for electronic filing is https://uspsjoe.justware.com/JusticeWeb. Online filers must use this exact web address. Omitting the initial “https://” – or the final “justiceweb” – results in an error message. To assist users, the Board has created a PSBCA tutorial on electronic filing.
To file electronically, a party or its representative must first create a new user account. To do this, click on the “Request Account” box in the far upper-right hand corner of the website. A new user must create a user name and provide identifying information. The user must also create a password that is between 6 – 16 characters, and have at least one lowercase character, one uppercase character, and a number. Approval is not automatic, but is provided later by the Board. Once approved, a user may file a new case, be added to an existing case, or work on cases in which it is already a party or representative.
Under the electronic filing system, parties will no longer be required to send a physical copy of filings to the Board, opposing counsel, or other parties. All case filings will be available electronically to the user and all authorized filers in the case. Board orders and decisions in the case will also be available electronically as soon as they are issued.
An important exception to electronic filing is the submission of simultaneous briefs. These are typically used in summary judgment motions and post-hearing briefs. A physical copy of simultaneous briefs must be filed directly with the Board – they may not be filed electronically. After the Board has received each party’s simultaneous brief, it will distribute them electronically.
Unlike other Boards, a contractor may commence an action at the PSBCA by filing a notice of appeal directly with the contracting officer. In such case, the contracting officer is to forward the notice of appeal to the USPS General Counsel’s office, which will then file the notice of appeal electronically.
The Appeal File and its supplements, which contain documents relevant to the case, are also to be submitted electronically. For lengthy, bulky, or out-size documents, a party may seek permission from the Board to submit physical copies instead of electronic filing.
Electronic filers will only have access to submissions in cases where they are the party’s representative. At least initially, the Board’s electronic filings are not available to the public. Those wishing to view or obtain copies of filings must still obtain physical copies from the Board.