Delay claims are part of construction. There should be no surprise why. Time is money. A delay claim should be accompanied by expert opinions that bolster evidence that gets introduced. The party against whom the delay claim is made will also have an expert – a rebuttal expert. Not surprisingly, each of the experts will rely on a different critical path as to relates to the same project. The party claiming delay will rely on a critical path that shows the actions of the other party impacted their critical path and proximately caused the delay. This will be refuted by the opposing expert that will challenge the critical path and the actions claimed had no impact on the critical path (i.e., did not proximately cause the delay). Quintessential finger pointing!
This was the situation in CTA I, LLC v. Department of Veteran Affairs, CBCA 5826, 2022 WL 884710 (CBCA 2022), where the government terminated the contractor for convenience and the contractor claimed equitable adjustments for, among other things, delay. The contractor’s expert relied on an as-built critical path analysis by “retrospectively creating updates to insert between the contemporaneous updates.” Id., supra, n.3. The government’s expert did not do a retrospective as-built analysis and relied on only contemporaneous schedule updates. Id.
The government’s expert testified he was not a fan of a retrospective (after-the-fact) as-built analysis because this analysis can lead to manipulation. He testified that he prefers to rely on contemporaneous schedule updates versus an as-built analysis where activities are added. The contractor’s expert countered by saying the government’s expert wants to ignore as-built facts which would warrant adjustments to contemporaneous project schedules to account for what actually occurred in the field.
Who is right? Is a retrospective (after-the-fact) as built analysis credible? YES, it is. But, in an answering this question, let’s bullet point some key aspects as articulated by the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, which need to be underscored for importance:
The contractor “has burden of proving the extent of the delay, that the delay was proximately caused by government [owner] action, and the delay harmed” the contractor. CTA I, supra (citation omitted).
“Only delay on a project’s critical path results in overall delay.” Id.
“As as-built critical path that reconstructs schedule updates is an acceptable methodology” “[A] rigorous ‘as-built’ approach- reviewing contemporaneous evidence in hindsight to trace the activities on the actual, longest path to completion-has been endorsed by government contracts tribunals.” Id.
“Because we must determine why a project lasted as long as it did, we [the Board] want to know the path to the latest work – including the critical work immediately preceding that work, and just before that, and so on.” Id.
“We reject [the government’s] accusation that retrospectively adjusting as-built schedules based on project documentation or other evidence necessarily turns the schedules into ‘fiction.’ There is, to be sure, a heavy presumption that regularly updated, contemporaneous schedules are the best evidence of project progress.” Id.
“[F]orensic schedule analysis is ‘both a science and an art’ and ‘not a magic wand’ but a set of techniques requiring ‘the application of an expert’s well-considered judgment in evaluating the logic of underlying the various pieces of information that support the analysis.’” Id.
Even if relying on an as-built analysis, there needs to be persuasive contemporaneous project documents – “[e]xpert opinions offered on certain matters that…are not supported by the record tend to cast a shadow on the value of other opinions concerning issues where the underlying factual matters were less clear.” Id. (citation omitted) (discussing aspects of contractor’s experts opinion that relied on an unknown extent of hindsight with interviews of the contractor’s project team which the government and the Board were not privy, and where there was not persuasive contemporaneous evidence).
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