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    Government Contracting Database

    Differing Site Conditions – Notice

    Differing Site Conditions – Notice

    When a contractor believes that a differing site condition has been encountered, the clause (FAR 52.236 – 2(c) requires that a prompt written notice be given to the Contracting Officer so that the condition of the site can be investigated, the facts can be ascertained, and determination can be made regarding the presence or absence of a differing site condition. The prompt notice requirement enables the government to examine the condition of the site and, if necessary, (1) to modify the contract so that it will reflect the increased or decreased cost of and time for performance of (2) to develop records concerning any increase or decrease in the cost of and time for performance. Cost and time information is essential for an independent government judgment regarding an equitable adjustment of the contract. A failure to give a timely notice could prejudice the g government’s ability to determine the extent to which the Contractor or the government is entitled to an equitable adjustment. Since the existence of a differing site condition is not always recognizable immediately, the clause provides that the Contracting Officer may extend the time for submission of the required notice.

    The purpose of a written notice requirement is to give the Contracting Officer an opportunity to investigate the circumstances and allow the government to exercise some control over the cost of dealing with the condition. Charles T. Parker Construction Co., DCA Pr – 41, 65 – 1 BCA p 4780. Notwithstanding the lack of written notice, a contractor can prevail where the government had either constructive or actual knowledge of the condition and was not prejudiced by the lack of a written notice. Appeal of Shumate Constructors, Inc., VABCA No. 2772, 90 – 3 BCA ¶ 22946; S. Kane & Sons, Inc., VACAB 1254, 78 – 1 BCA p 13,100. The burden to show prejudice is on the Government. Appeal of Shumate Constructors, Inc., VABCA No. 2772, 90 – 3 BCA ¶ 22946; Parcoa, Inc., AGBCA No. 76 – 130, 77 – 2 ¶ 12,658.

    In a case where the g government’s inspector was well aware of the job differing site conditions, but for some unexplained reason failed to advise the contracting officer about those conditions, the Board imputed the inspector’s knowledge of the job site conditions to the contracting officer. See Leiden Corporation, ASBCA No. 26136, 83 – 2 BCA ¶ 16,612; Roy I. Strate, ASBCA No. 19914, 78 – 1 BCA ¶ 13,128; see also In Re Sociometrics, Inc., ASBCA No. 51620, 00 – 1 BCA ¶ 30620. Therefore, notice requirements under contract clauses for changes and differing site conditions are not always strictly enforced when the government has actual knowledge of the event or circumstances which the notice is designed to bring to the g government’s attention.

    Updated: July 30, 2018

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