Two long serving judges on the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) — Judge Jeri Somers and Judge Catherine Hyatt — retired this June after decades of public service and extensive service in the federal government. Housed within GSA, the CBCA launched in 2007 and comprises the Boards of Contract Appeals from various civilian agencies to mediate contract disputes between contractors and virtually every civilian executive agency within the federal government.
Judge Jeri Somers served most recently as chair of the CBCA, from 2017 until her retirement. Her varied federal career included service with first,the U.S. Air Force as a commissioned officer and later with the Air Force Reserve and D.C. Air National Guard. She worked as a trial attorney with the Department of Justice, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and as a judge to the Department of Transportation Board of Contract Appeals in 2003. When the CBCA was formed in 2007, Judge Somers became a member and was eventually appointed vice chair in 2008, and finally chair in 2017.
Under her steady leadership, the CBCA started publishing its annual reports, which contributed to the Board’s transparency. Judge Somers noted that the CBCA filed its first annual report in 2007. “When the consolidation happened, all the courthouses were in different locations. GSA helped consolidate the courthouse, three courtrooms, and chambers for the judges,” said Judge Somers. She also stated that GSA has always been very supportive of the Board’s mission, particularly by helping the small independent agency manage its working capital fund obligation.
Judge Somers noted that among the more rewarding aspects of working at the CBCA are its panel system for hearing contract and other disputes. The judges get diverse experience by presiding over cases brought by both the federal government and contractors. “The opportunity to experience firsthand the process of managing a project with a contractor has given me excellent insight, as well as enhanced empathy, for all sides of the dispute I hear,” said Judge Somers.
Along with Judge Somers, Judge Catherine Hyatt retired in June. Virtually all of Judge Hyatt’s 35 years of public service were in a judicial capacity.
In 1988, Judge Hyatt joined the General Services Administration's Board of Contract Appeals. As a member of that board, she was an original judge at the CBCA when it was created in 2007.
What she appreciated most about her time with both boards was federal law’s impartial nature and the judge’s role in rendering decisions that resolve disputes. “It’s rewarding to issue a decision that follows the framework of the law and resolve a dispute,” she said.
Two esteemed judges hung up their robes for the final time this June, closing the book on two storied careers at the CBCA. Learn more by visiting CBCA.gov.