If a dispute arises on a federal contract, the Contract Disputes Act requires a contractor to submit a written demand seeking as a matter of right a “sum certain” to the contracting officer as part of the claims process. What exactly is a “sum certain”? It is what it sounds like—contractors must provide an exact dollar amount of the overall damages they are claiming in their CDA claims. In other words, whatever damages the contractor is claiming cannot be qualified in any way. Contractors should never use the words “at least,” “approximately,” “no less than,” or “well over” with their damage figure. Instead, the contractor must provide an exact amount a set damage figure that represents the overall amount being demanded. It is okay if the damage figure is an estimate—even a flat calculation of $100,000—as long as an overall demand is made without any qualifying language.

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