Construction Lien Law in Washington: Liens on Federal Projects
The Miller Act, 40 U.S.C. §§ 3131 – 3134, requires a prime contractor on a federal
project exceeding a cost of $100,000 to post a payment bond and a separate performance bond in the amount of its contract price with the U.S. government. The Miller Act, in its original form, was enacted in 1935, and was applicable to contracts exceeding $2,000. It was designed as an alternative remedy to the mechanic’s lien available in ordinary private construction disputes because a lien cannot attach to government property. The Miller Act "represents a congressional effort to protect persons supplying labor and material for the
construction of federal public buildings in lieu of the protection they might receive under
state statutes with respect to the construction of nonfederal buildings." Mai Steel Serv. Inc.
v. Blake Constr. Co., 981 F.2d 414, 416-17 (9th Cir. 1992). The Miller Act permits a
subcontractor or material supplier to bring suit on the prime contractor’s payment bond for
any unpaid amounts owing for labor or materials, even if the claimant has no contractual relationship with the prime contractor.
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