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How to Read and Interpret Government Contracts

June 13 @ 9:00 am - June 14 @ 4:00 pm




Most contract disputes and misunderstandings concern the meaning of the contract. Contract interpretation is not the exclusive domain of the lawyers. Rather, it is an essential skill set for successful contractors and government acquisition professionals – all of whom need to be familiar with these principles in order to spot, avoid, and resolve potential problems over the meaning of the contract and the parties’ obligations, and because they are the ones on the front lines of contract and proposal writing, contract interpretation, and contract execution.

This course covers the principles of contract interpretation, as they are applied every day in federal government contracting. These principles of contract interpretation are not in statutes, the FAR, or in any regulations. They are in the decisions of the judges.

The principles will be discussed in the context of how they apply to intrinsic evidence (the contract documents) and extrinsic evidence (information and considerations from outside the contract) and will include practical exercise to enhance the learning experience.

Learning Objectives

This seminar will thoroughly familiarize and explain the following:

  • The processes, nature, and realties of interpretation
  • Communication scenarios that are prone to misunderstandings
  • The key foundational issues of understanding a contract, including the objective approach to interpretation, the rules for defining the content of the contract and the federal courts’ rule on using information from outside the contract for interpretation – the Plain Meaning Rule
  • The principles of interpretation – with real world illustrations taken from federal contract disputes
  • The rule of interpreting ambiguities against the drafter (the Doctrine of Contra Proferentem) and the great exception to the general rule in federal contracting
  • Subjects that are frequently involved in interpretation disputes, to including disputes over the formation and type of government contract, the contract authority of government personnel, order or precedence clauses, and clauses that shift the risk to contractors

Continuing Education Credits

11 CLE/ 13 CPE (Business Law) credits may be earned for this course. This course is recommended for 16 CLP credits.

This course has been approved for CLE in CA, PA, VA and TX.  Because this activity has been approved in another CLE jurisdiction, you may also receive credit for participation in AK, AZ, AR, CO, FL, HI, IL, ME, MT, NJ, NY, ND, and WI (additional state requirements may apply). If you are seeking CLE credits for a jurisdiction other than the ones listed above, please contact us for additional information.

This course can be submitted to Project Management Institute (PMI) for PDU.  Upon their approval, it may be worth 11 PDU credits.



John Plinke


Nash & Cibinic Center for Excellence in Government Contracting
1725 I (Eye) Street NW, Suite 100 (Farragut Metro)
Washington, DC 20006 United States
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The Public Contracting Institute is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: www.nasbaregistry.org.

Upcoming Seminars

Webinars & Virtual Classes