Claims Resolution Team
Real Property Branch (RPB) subscribes to the use of a Claims Resolution Team for the analysis and resolution of claims. While most claims can be resolved at the project level by a 'core' settlement team consisting of the project manager and the contract officer, other claims may require additional expertise for analysis and resolution. The complexity and sensitivity of the claim will dictate the expertise and skill sets of the resources to be assembled, as well as the appropriateness of senior management involvement. Although consultants may be responsible for the inspection of the work and will provide an initial evaluation, ultimate responsibility for prompt resolution of claims rests with the project manager. Successful claims resolution requires teamwork and open communications.
Roles and Responsibilities
Senior Project Manager/Project manager
The SPM and the PM are the 'technical authority' for the resolution of all claims received on a project. Together they can usually resolve most disputes and minor claims at the project level. The PM is expected to utilize departmental resources to the best advantage to resolve claims and to inform the contract officer (CO) of the dispute and potential claim. The PM should also advise the Claims Prevention and Management Unit (CPMU) of the claim and request their assistance in resolution of claims. It is extremely important that PSPC establish and ensure a 'single point of contact' with the contractor for all claim related matters. In view of the number of parties involved in claims resolution and the highly technical nature of real property claims, the primary focus from receipt of a written claim from a contractor until its final resolution should be the PM and/or the SPM. The PM will keep the client and members of the Claims Resolution Team (as applicable) informed.
The CO must be informed of all dispute or potential claims and will often involve the CPMU. The CO is the 'contract authority' and works cooperatively with the PM in deciding upon appropriate disputes or claims resolution strategies that involve taking the work out of the contractor's hand and termination of the contract. The CO will obtain Legal Services concurrence in such situations.
Senior Project Manager
The SPM is responsible to assist the PM in the claims resolution process. The SPM may either resolve the issue or request the CPMU to evaluate key issues of the claim, provide analysis, recommend solutions, and share precedents, following which, the CPMU may recommend to the SPM that a Claims Resolution Team be assembled. The SPM must also ensure that senior management levels are kept informed and knowledgeable concerning claims, including managers, directors, director generals, ADMs and the DM if necessary, particularly where subsequent senior management approvals will be required for claims.
Management of claims resolution involves administration and negotiation of the claim and management of the client's role in the resolution process, especially when the client is required to obtain funding to pay for a claim. Clients are encouraged to attend meetings with claimants, but should not participate directly in negotiations. It is standard PSPC practice that the client be advised, briefed and provided reports on claims managed on their behalf. Where RPB is the design and construction service agency, RPB is responsible for all aspects of contract management, including claims resolution strategies and alternate disputes mechanisms. The Project Charter should address this responsibility for claims management. In cases where a client team is established on behalf of an OGD 'tenant', the PM must ensure that the client team remains as the 'primary' contact with the tenant. It is essential that clients are kept advised and updated on the project status as well as on design and construction issues.
Claims Prevention and Management Unit
On occasions where the number of disputes and claims may require establishment of formalized procedures for review, evaluation and resolution, the CPMU, on behalf of the SPM, assembles a full Claims Resolution Team and contracts any necessary outside consultants or specialists. The CPMU is the principal claims advisor to the SPM and also serves as 'gatekeeper' for claims prevention and management within RPB, including data collection, reporting, and promulgation of 'lessons learned' and 'best practices' with regards to claims, in particular, those claims which cannot be dealt with at the project level. The CPMU also provides an interface with RPC and Legal Services.
Regional Claims Representative
Manages the claims process at the regional level and has the lead role in information flow, including regional reports, on all claims in their region. The RCR assists SPMs and PMs in claims avoidance, evaluation of claims, establishing strategies, facilitating negotiations and assembling regional Claims Resolution Teams. The RCR also provides support in the event of alternate disputes resolution or litigation, and is the RPB link to RPC, Legal Services and CPMU.
Legal Services Advisor
Is responsible for reviewing any use of dispute resolution clauses in any contract, and any 'Release' and 'Settlement' documents once a dispute/claim is resolved. LSA is also responsible for providing legal advice with respect to dispute resolution mechanisms and other options available whenever such advice is sought. As per TB Policy on Claims and ExGratia Payments any claim over $25K should be reported to LSA for their advice.
Most complex claims require specialist consultants on some aspects of the claim. If the claim proceeds to court, it is wise to engage consultants who are of high caliber and leaders in their field to ensure their credibility as 'expert witness' for PSPC. Common areas include subsurface conditions, analysis of project schedule, and industry costing practices. Within PSPC there are also a host of experts in various fields such as contracting, auditing, finance, legal etc., which may be called upon as required. The CPMU assists and coordinates contracts or call-ups against standing offers for such requirements.
Department of Justice
May be engaged, through the PSPC Legal Advisor, for claims resolution at any time, but most particularly in cases where claims proceed to litigation. In such cases, once a claim is in active litigation, the DOJ representative will be PSPC's primary representative.
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