What is Government Contract Law?

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  • Written By: Daphne Mallory
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2020
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Government contract law consists of statutes, rules, and regulations that govern the bidding process, government contracts, and appeals. Private businesses that want to bid on contracts or do business with government agencies refer to laws on government contracts to ensure that they are compliant with the rules that are required by local, regional, or national laws. One of the purposes of government contract law is to ensure equality in the bidding process for government contracts. Companies often face the same rules and procedures in the bidding process, which is supposed to make it difficult for a bidding officer to favor one company over the other. Related areas of law include administrative law and commercial law.

Lawyers who practice government contract law are often hired by companies of all sizes to help them sell their services to the government. The process often involves the government posting public notice of a need for goods and services and inviting companies to submit bids. Bidding on or entering into government contracts requires a knowledge and understanding of the applicable rules and procedures that are covered in government contract law, and many companies delegate the responsibility of knowing what’s required to their attorneys. For example, owners of a construction company might hire a lawyer to help them prepare a bid that meets regulatory requirements in order to be awarded the contract. Those companies often risk not being considered if they fail to meet the necessary regulatory requirements.


Companies that are denied government contracts may be able to protest the bid. They often must submit a claim to the government agency responsible for awarding the contract. While the claim is adjudicated, the government may be obligated to suspend the performance of the contract by the company that was awarded the bid, according to government contract law. Protesting a bid often involves hearings and litigation, and the company and the government both refer to cases, rules, and regulations to defend or argue their case. Cases can be brought before an administrative agency or a national court assigned to adjudicate bid protests.

The government and private parties to a legal agreement may also need to refer to government contract law to settle contract disputes or compel contractual performance. Some of the contract types include non-disclosure and non-compete agreements, subcontracts, and employment and teaming agreements. These contracts need to be valid and managed, and when there’s an issue with one or both of these, one of the parties may initiate legal action. Another option that parties pursue is to terminate the contract. The answer to whether one party can legally terminate a contract is often found in government contract law.



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