The largest employer of labor in the United States, the biggest purchaser of goods and supplies, and the chief contractor of large scale engineering projects is the Federal Government. Half the national budget is used by the Defense Department alone for installations of all kinds. Thousands of business firms today depend upon contracts with government agencies in whole or in part, and many of them could not exist at all but for orders from the United States Government.
Many problems of a financial and business-administration nature result from this fact. Not the least of them is that business disputes, which are possible in any relationship, present special difficulties when one of the parties—the Government—is in a dominant position, politically and economically.
The Government itself, recognizing the significance of the special role it plays, has established administrative procedures through which prime contractors can prosecute claims against government agencies to obtain redress or extra compensation when losses result from changes in specifications or stop-work orders. Armed Services Procurement Regulations (called ASPR) establish a hierarchy of contracting officers and appeal procedures through which such claims are satisfied.