The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals’ (ASBCA) recent decision in Dick Pacific Constr. Co., Ltd, serves as an important reminder to federal construction contractors that keeping consistent and detailed daily logs is essential and can mean the difference between winning and losing a given case. This ASBCA decision is a useful reminder to contractors on all projects, public or private, of the importance of keeping accurate daily logs.
The case before the ASBCA involved a series of consolidated appeals arising from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction contract for the installation of additional concrete pavement for aircraft parking and construction of a clear water rinse facility at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. The contractor filed the subject appeals after experiencing a series of delays that it alleged were caused by the government, and after the government had assessed liquidated damages against the contractor.
After considering the parties’ arguments, the ASBCA denied some of the contractor’s ancillary claims, but found in favor of the contractor on its claim that the government was responsible for certain critical path delays. Importantly, in finding in favor of the contractor on the delay claim, the ASBCA relied heavily on the contractor’s daily logs. Also noteworthy, at the outset of its analysis of the merits of the claims, the ASBCA explicitly declared “We consider daily logs to be the most reliable evidence of what actually happened during construction.” Similarly, the ASBCA noted that “[d]aily inspection reports have been held to be prima facie evidence of the daily conditions as they existed at the time of performance.” In many federal government contracts (as well as state and local public contracts and some private construction contracts), the daily reports are provided to the owner by the contractor. Hence, in some cases, not only are they reliable evidence, but they may be deemed notice.
Although daily life for field personnel on a construction project can be unpredictable and downright hectic, such personnel nonetheless must be disciplined about keeping consistent, detailed and accurate daily logs. They must be factual and not slanted or claim-driven to be considered reliable. As the ASBCA’s recent decision in Dick Pacific Constr. Co., Ltd underscores, daily logs can come back to haunt or help contractors in litigation and, frequently, detailed daily logs mean the difference between winning and losing a case.