BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE In the Matter of ) ) the Appeal of ) ) ALLEGRA PRINT & IMAGING ) Docket No. GPOBCA 07-01 ) Jacket 652-314 ) Purchase Order H6292 ) For the Appellant: Allegra Print & Imaging, Schaumburg, IL, by Ramesh Gandhi, President. For the Government: Roy E. Potter, Esq., Associate General Counsel, U.S. Government Printing Office. Before KERRY L. MILLER, Administrative Judge. DECISION ON TIMELINESS On September 28, 2001, the U.S. Government Printing Office Board of Contract Appeals (Board) received, via U. S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Appellant's appeal letter dated September 15, 2001. Appellant sought to appeal a decision of the Contracting Officer dated June 19, 2001, that terminated Appellant's contract for default. The envelope containing the appeal letter was postmarked September 24, 2001. As it appeared that the appeal might be untimely, the Board issued an Order requiring Appellant to "show cause why this appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file its appeal within 90 days of receipt of the Contracting Officer's final decision." Order to Show Cause (October 11, 2001) (hereinafter "Order"). Appellant was directed to respond to the Order within 10 days of receipt. Id. The Board's first attempt to serve the Order by Certified Mail resulted in the return of a signed, but undated return receipt. Given uncertainties in the timely delivery of mail to and from federal agencies in the Washington D.C. area as a result of disruptions caused by anthrax contaminated postal facilities, the Board served the order on Appellant by telefacsimile on November 14, 2001. Appellant responded to the Board's Order by letter dated October[sic] 15, 20011. Appellant's President, Ramesh Gandhi explained that "[t]he fact of the matter in sending the delayed response for appeal is the lack of knowledge on my part of the procedure involved in the appeal preparation & getting all of my facts together before mailing the appeal." (Emphasis in original) Letter from Ramesh Gandhi to U. S. Government Printing Office Board of Contract Appeal (October 15, 2001). Accordingly, the Board makes the following findings of fact on the issue of timeliness. FINDINGS OF FACT 1. By letter dated June 19, 2001, addressed to Ramesh Gandhi, Allegra Print & Imaging, GPO Contracting Officer Steven Boortz, terminated Appellant's contract (Purchase Order H6292, Jacket 652-314) for default because of Appellant's "failure to deliver the products in accordance with the contract specifications." The letter also stated: "This is the final decision of the Contracting Officer, made pursuant to Article 5, page 13, "Disputes", of Contract Clauses in GPO Contract Terms (Pub. 310.2), which is a part of the contract. It shall be final and conclusive as provided therein, unless within 90 days from the date of receipt of this decision, a written notice of appeal, addressed to the U.S. Government Printing Office Board of Contract Appeals, Washington, DC 20401, is mailed or otherwise furnished." 2. The Contracting Officer delivered the final decision letter to Appellant by Federal Express. According to Federal Express delivery records, the Contracting Officer's letter was delivered to Appellant at 9:25 a.m. on June 20, 2001, and signed for by "R. Ghandi." 3. Appellant's letter of appeal dated September 15, 2001, was sent to the Board by U. S. Postal Service Priority Mail, postmarked September 24, 2001. It was received by the Board on September 28, 2001. On the outside of the envelope was the handwritten notation: "6/15/01 + 90 Days + 1 wk of Sept. 11 = 97 days Sept. 24/01." 4. Appellant's letter of appeal was not mailed or otherwise furnished to the Board within 90 days after Appellant received the Contracting Officer's default letter. DECISION Under the terms of the contract at issue in this appeal, a decision of a Contracting Officer becomes "final and conclusive unless, within 90 days from the date of receipt of such copy, the contractor mails or otherwise furnishes a written notice of appeal to the Government Printing Office Board of Contract Appeals." GPO Contract Terms, GPO Publication 310.2 (Rev. 5-99) Contract Clause 5(e). Similarly, the Board's Rules require a notice of appeal to be "mailed or otherwise filed with the Board within 90 days from the date of receipt of a final written decision of the contracting officer." GPO Instruction 110.12A, Rule 1(a). This 90-day deadline was also communicated to Appellant in the Contracting Officer's default letter. Letter from Steve Bortz to Ramesh Gandhi (June 19, 2001). This Board's normal practice has been to enforce this 90-day time limit. See Bookbinders of New Mexico, GPOBCA No. 6-00, 2000 GPOBCA LEXIS 6, 2000 WL 1016874 (July 13, 2000); Pittenger Enterprises, Ltd, GPOBCA No. 5-99, 1999 GPOBCA LEXIS 1, 1999 WL 498502 (April 8, 1999); Ace Duplicating Co., GPOBCA 44-92 (Feb. 1, 1993); Moore Business Forms & Systems Division, GPOBCA 3-86, 1987 GPOBCA Lexis 26, 1987 WL 228968 (Feb. 25, 1987). However, unlike Executive Branch2 Boards that treat the 90-day time limit as jurisdictional, the GPOBCA possesses limited discretion to waive the time limit in appropriate circumstances. See, e.g., Olympic Graphic Systems, GPOBCA 01-92, 1996 GPOBCA LEXIS 32, 1996 WL 812957 (Sept. 13, 1996) (Notice of appeal misdirected by agency's mail room); McDonald & Eudy Printers, Inc., GPOBCA 06-91, 1994 GPOBCA LEXIS 29, 1994 WL 377581 (May 6, 1994) Slip op. at 2, fn. 2 (Appellant's notice of appeal lost by agency's mail room). The Court of Claims, in a series of pre-Contract Disputes Act cases held that Boards of Contract Appeals have the power in proper circumstances to waive or extend the appeal periods specified in the usual disputes clause. Maney Aircraft Parts, Inc. v. United States, 197 Ct. Cl. 159 (1972); Monroe M. Tapper v. United States, 198 Ct. Cl. 72 (1972); Schlesinger v. United States, 181 Ct. Cl. 21, 28-29 (1967); Moran Bros. Inc. v. United States, 171 Ct. Cl. 245, 250 (1965). When the timeliness of an appeal is at issue, the Appellant has the burden of proving its appeal was timely filed. Warren Owner Co., VACAB 1657, 82-1 BCA ¶ 15,709; Engineering Design & Development, ASBCA 15531, 71-1 BCA ¶ 8708. In the instant appeal, Appellant has failed to meet its burden of proof. While it appeared from the handwritten notation on the appeal letter envelope that Appellant had granted itself a one week extension of the 90-day deadline because of the unprecedented events of September 11, 2001, Appellant failed to produce evidence that the events of September 11, 2001, prevented it from filing its appeal in a timely manner. Indeed, Appellant's Response to the Board's Show Cause Order did not even reference the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Instead, Appellant blamed its tardiness on its unfamiliarity with appeal procedures and its need to gather facts. The unrebutted evidence of record is that Appellant mailed its appeal letter more than 90 days after receiving a copy of the Contracting Officer's letter terminating the contract for default. Thus the appeal was untimely. In reaching this conclusion, the Board has considered carefully Appellant's pro se status. See Quincey Carpenter v. United States, 38 Fed. Cl. 576 (1997) and cases cited therein. However, formal legal training is not necessary for responding to simple deadlines or for otherwise prosecuting an appeal. See, Airborne Industries, Inc., ASBCA Nos. 45491 et al., 95-1 BCA ¶ 27,496, aff'd on recon. at ¶ 27,311. Upon review of the entire record, I find no facts or circumstances that would justify the exercise of the Board's discretion to extend or waive the 90-day appeal period. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed with prejudice as untimely. January 28, 2002 KERRY L. MILLER Administrative Judge ____________ 1 Appellant's response was postmarked November 19, 2001, but not received by the Board until January 23, 2002. 2 Executive Branch appeals are governed by the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (CDA), 41 U.S.C. §§ 601-613, as amended, which establishes a 90-day time limit within which an appeal must be filed. The 90-day filing requirement is statutory and cannot be waived. Cosmic Construction Co. v. United States, 697 F.2d 1389 (Fed. Cir. 1982). However, GPO contracts are not covered by the CDA due to the GPO's status as a Legislative Branch agency. See Tatelbaum v. United States, 749 F.2d 729, 730 (Fed. Cir. 1984).