Deficient Specs And Failure To Respond To RFIs May Prove Costly For Govt.

Friday, April 27, 2018 6:23 am
May 2018 - Volume 40 Number 5

Notice --- Specifications

Appeal of: UNIT Company, 2018 ASBCA No. 60581 Lexis 51 (Feb. 12, 2018)

The government’s attention to discrepancies in its project specifications was too little, too late. The U.S. Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals concluded that it may well have been, not lack of notification from the contractor, but the defective specs themselves that delayed the project and led to extra costs. And, importantly, the Board also ruled that a request for information (RFI) can satisfy a notice requirement under F.A.R.

UNIT Company (UNIT) was the general contractor on a $20-million project to construct a battle command training center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. Klebs Mechanical (Klebs) was the subcontractor responsible for mechanical work, including “installation of air supply, distribution, ventilation, and exhaust systems.” From the beginning of the project, both the contractor and sub found the government-provided specifications regarding HVAC design insufficient: They lacked “certain engineering design information” necessary to install air handling/conditioning units, including key piping details and component connections. (Klebs assumed that the lack of detail meant that the units’ suppliers would supply the materials and design engineering necessary, but that never happened.)

Throughout three years at work on the project, UNIT and Klebs submitted nearly 20 RFIs that cited lack of “design/engineering specificity” and sought clarification of details such as pipe sizes. They received little response from the government. Fearing project delay, the sub we[..]