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Using Available Funds For Other Purposes No Excuse For Breach

Mar.22.2005

The Supreme Court in Cherokee Nation of Okla. v. Leavitt (Mar. 1, 2005) sustained breach actions by several Indian tribes against the Department of Interior, which had tried to avoid its contractual obligations by saying that it didn't have enough appropriated funds to meet all of its various responsibilities. In so doing, the Court reaffirmed the long-established rule for procurement contracts that, if Congress has not earmarked funds specifically for a program and "if the amount of an unrestricted appropriation is sufficient to fund the contract, the contractor is entitled to payment even if the agency has allocated the funds to another purpose or assumes other obligations that exhaust the funds," even if the contract has language such as "subject to the availability of funds."

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Frederick (Rick) W. Claybrook Jr.
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2695
Email: rclaybrook@crowell.com