Does a constructive acceleration claim require the contractor to always request an extension of time which is then denied by the owner? While this is certainly the preference and the contractor should be requesting an extension of time as a matter of course for an excusable delay, the answer is NO! in certain circumstances. This is conveyed in the factually detailed case discussed below where a formal request for an extension of time was not required for the contractor to support its constructive acceleration claim.
But first, what is constructive acceleration:
Constructive acceleration “occurs when the government demands compliance with an original contract deadline, despite excusable delay by the contractor.” The Federal Circuit in Fraser defined the elements of constructive acceleration as follows:
(1) that the contractor encountered a delay that is excusable under the contract; (2) that the contractor made a timely and sufficient request for an extension of the contract schedule; (3) that the government denied the contractor’s request for an extension or failed to act on it within a reasonable time; (4) that the government insisted on completion of the contract within a period shorter than the period to which the contractor would be entitled by taking into account the period of excusable delay, after which the contractor notified the government that it regarded the alleged order to accelerate as a constructive change in the contract; and (5) that the contractor was required to expend extra resources to compensate for the lost time and remain on schedule.
Nova Group/Tutor-Saliba v. U.S., 2022 WL 815826, *42 (Fed.Cl. 2022) quoting Fraser Constr. Co. v. U.S., 384 F.3d 1354, 1361 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (internal citations omitted).