New reader J. Legend of Brentwood, CA writes, “Our company is doing work on a contract with a “not to exceed” amount of $200,000.  We will likely only incur $100,000 of time and labor.  Can we bill for the full $200K?”  Nice try, J. but a “not to exceed” contract means only that the government will spend “up to” that amount during the contract.  Contractors cannot bill for more than the time or costs they actually incur.  Submitting a bill for more is a prima facia False Claims Act violation and can cost your company more than the business was worth.  There is substantial case law on this point.  Although it might be tempting, it is ultimately not worth the risk to your company’s other business or reputation.  Contractors can only bill according to the terms and conditions of the contract and only for valid prices or costs incurred.  This is true, by the way, even if a government contracting officer says you “must” bill for the entire “not to exceed” amount.  Although CO’s should always be given respect, following advice contrary to the law can still get you in trouble