The following are undisputed material facts.
1. IAFF entered into two contracts with the Department of Labor (DOL) covering the period October 30, 1978 to April 30, 1981 under which it was to perform certain services similar to services it had performed under prior contracts.
2. The first contract at issue was signed on October 30, 1978 covering the period from October 30, 1978 until October 29, 1979. It was later extended from October 30, 1979 through December 31, 1980. A second contract covered the period January 1, 1980 to April 30, 1981.
3. On or about the second week of November, 1978, DeForrest Cline, the Contract Service Officer employed by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, DOL, received an invoice from IAFF for actual and estimated services for the period of October 1, 1978 through November 30, 1978, including $ 42,212 that were incurred between October 1 and October 29, 1978, prior to the signing of the October 30 contract. It was ultimately approved for payment by the Department of Labor.
4. In late 1981 and early 1982, an outside audit was conducted regarding the IAFF contracts, and on April 6, 1982, the draft audit recommended that certain costs of the IAFF be disallowed.
5. IAFF responded to the draft on May 6, 1982, and its comments were considered in the final audit report submitted June 10, 1982, which questioned costs totalling over $ 170,500.
6. On November 11, 1982, DOL sent the IAFF the agency's initial determination of disallowed costs resulting from the audit, disallowing $ 170,438.
7. IAFF was given a further opportunity to present its position.
8. On February 4, 1983, DOL sent the IAFF a letter confirming that the final determination of the agency was that $ 51,998 had been disallowed with respect to costs under the two contracts, largely relating to the October, 1978 period. Citing statutes, regulations and an Office of Management and Budget circular, this confirmation letter advised IAFF of its appeal rights and collection procedures.
9. On February 22, 1983, DOL sent a "Demand Letter" requesting payment of the claimed amount. Subsequent demand letters were sent in April and May, 1983.
10. No payment was made on the demands, and no appeals were taken.
11. Suit was filed on February 2, 1989.
There is no dispute that the applicable statute of limitations is found in 28 U.S.C. § 2415(a), which provides in relevant part that:
Subject to the provisions of section 2416 of this title . . . every action for money damages brought by the United States or an officer or agency thereof which is founded upon any contract express or implied in law or fact, shall be barred unless the complaint is filed within six years after the right of action accrues or within one year after final decisions have been rendered in applicable administrative proceedings required by contract or by law, whichever is later . . . (emphasis added)