As discussed in previous posts, here and here, it is vitally important for contractors to establish a contract administration system. In this post, we will discuss maintaining key documents to successfully prove your claim. In the first two posts we discussed the importance of reading and understanding the contract, and identifying the risks and theories of recovery. In the final part of this series, we will discuss some practical advice for putting a contract administration system in place and reviewing it to make sure it is working.
Generally speaking, a contractor must be able to support its claim with documentation that existed both before and after the problem arose. Examples of this type of documentation include:
- the schedule;
- productivity report;
- deviation reports;
- daily timecards;
- diary and daily quantities;
- daily site diary/report;
- meeting minutes;
- change/work order files.
From a legal standpoint, in order for these documents to be admissible, they must have been recorded as they occurred. In legalese, they must have been created at or near the time of the events identified in the documents.
Simply maintaining these documents, however, is not all that must be done. For example, schedules must be regularly updated and when changes or delays occur, they must meet the schedule requirements in the contract. The daily site diary/report must also include plan versus actual quantities, location of the work, description of the work performed, production, major events of the day, any accomplishments or problems, and equipment and man counts.
Finally, correspondence is critically important. While it is best to avoid a letter writing campaign, any accusations from the owner or upstream contractor must be answered. And, your correspondence will become the “record” of what happened on the project. Correspondence can include e-mail, but you must be in a position to retrieve those e-mails if it becomes necessary.
Of course, you will need a system in place to keep and retrieve this documentation. While the method may vary, it will be vitally important that at least two employees know how to access the documentation system and can find the proverbial needle in the haystack. Otherwise, proving your claim may become extrement difficult.