Trust, but Verify

Rely at your own risk upon a Contracting Officer’s statements when statutes or contract provisions may conflict.

U.S. President Reagan used the phrase, “Trust, but Verify” from about 1984-1987 in the context of nuclear disarmament.  See a short clip here of President Reagan using that phrase with Mikhail Gorbachev by his side.

Reagan & Gorbachev

That same phrase also applies to communication between Owner and Contractor, Government and Contractor, and/or Contractor and Subcontractor.  I’m not suggesting rampant lying or fraud by anyone.  Nor am I suggesting disbelieving everything heard – doing that could cripple our world.  Rather, to preserve your interests, simply be mindful of words, either spoken or written, and actions done.  Balance your trust with a dash of constructive skepticism.

For example, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals has denied appeals when Contractors relied upon statements made by Contracting Officers, but the Contractors didn’t verify the accuracy of the statements by reviewing applicable laws or Contract Documents.  The Contractors trusted, but failed to verify.  Use the few minutes it may take to verify or risk forfeiting recovery.

Appeal of Anaconda Construction Co., ASBCA No. 60905 (June 26, 2017).

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