On construction projects owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a contractor may make a claim with the Board of Claims. But first, you must be aware of two limitations periods that could cause you to waive your claim if they are not met.
- The six month limitation period.
The first limitations period that you need to be aware of is the six month limitations period. Under the Procurment Code, a contractor must first file a claim with the contracting officer within six months of the claim accruing. The Commonwealth Court has said that a claim accrues when (1) you are first able to litigate your claim, e.g., “when the amount due under the claim is known and the claimant is capable of preparing a concise and specific written statement detailing the injury,” and (2) the owner affirmatively and unequivocally notified you that it will pay you. Wayne Knorr, Inc. v. Dep’t of Transp., 973 A.2d 1061, 1087–88 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2009).
Thus, once you put in a claim for payment and the Commonwealth affirmatively denies your claim, you have six months to file a claim with the contracting officer contesting the refusal to pay. If you do not make a claim with the contracting officer within six months, you waive your claim plain and simple.
2. The 15/135 day limitations period.
Like I said, but wait there’s more. Once you make your claim with the contracting officer, he or she has 120 days to make a decision on the claim. Once the claim is denied, you have 15 days from the mailing date of the denial to make a claim with the Board of Claims. However, the code also says that the claim must be made within 135 days of first making the claim with the contracting officer. For example, if you make a claim on June 1 and you receive no decision from the contracting officer and no extensions have been agreed to, then you must make your claim with the Board of Claims by November 6. You cannot sleep on your claim with the contracting officer.
Again, if any of these deadlines are missed you are deemed to have waived your claim and even meritorious compensable claims will be dismissed.