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12 min read

Know When to File An REA in Your Government Contract

Request for equitable adjustment video

When to file an REA

Requests for Equitable Adjustment in Government Contracts


The purpose of this section is to provide an overview of requests for equitable adjustment in government contracts, highlighting key considerations and procedures.

Understanding Requests for Equitable Adjustment

In this section, we will delve into the concept of requests for equitable adjustment and the significance they hold within the realm of government contracts. By understanding the nature and implications of these requests, contractors can effectively navigate contract changes and seek fair compensation.

Defining a Request for Equitable Adjustment

This section focuses on providing a clear definition of a request for equitable adjustment. It explores the notion of a fair adjustment to a contract and emphasizes that such adjustments can be either upward or downward. It also acknowledges that the government itself can initiate a request for equitable adjustment when necessary.

Scenarios Triggering Scope Changes

Here, we will explore various scenarios that frequently lead to changes in the scope of work within government contracts. These scenarios may involve the government requesting modifications in item quantities, changes in item specifications, or other alterations. Referencing the concepts of "constructive changes" and "cardinal changes," we will discuss how these alterations impact the contract and the need for equitable adjustments.

Navigating Regulatory Framework

This section delves into the regulatory framework surrounding requests for equitable adjustment in government contracts. While the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) does not provide a specific definition for equitable adjustment, it acknowledges its importance. We will highlight the relevant regulations and guidelines that allow for equitable adjustments to be pursued.

A Construction Context Example

To better illustrate the application of requests for equitable adjustment, we will examine a specific scenario in the context of construction contracts. This example will recount a situation where a government-issued notice to proceed was abruptly followed by a stop work order. We will explore a real-world case where a contractor was contracted to abate asbestos in a government building but faced delays and incurred additional costs due to the government's failure to relocate its employees as required. This case will serve as a tangible example of when an equitable adjustment was justified.

Taking Action: Submitting the Request

This section highlights the necessary steps that contractors should take when encountering circumstances warranting a request for equitable adjustment. Emphasizing the importance of timely action, we will discuss the significance of promptly submitting a formal request to the contracting officer. Clear guidance will be provided to aid contractors in navigating the process effectively.

Reference to Court of Federal Claims

To ensure our understanding aligns with legal precedent, this section will reference the Court of Federal Claims. This court provides a definitive definition and framework for requests for equitable adjustment in government contracts. Such references can offer valuable insights and assist contractors in formulating accurate and compelling requests.


In conclusion, this section has provided an extensive exploration of requests for equitable adjustment in government contracts. By understanding the concepts, procedures, and considerations surrounding these requests, contractors can better navigate scope changes and seek fair compensation in their contractual dealings with the government.

The Importance of Specific Information in a Request for Equitable Adjustment

When preparing a request for equitable adjustment (REA), it is crucial to include specific information to enhance the chances of approval and avoid denial. The presenter emphasizes the following key points:

Citing the Appropriate Contract Clause

The REA should explicitly reference the contract clause that authorizes the adjustment. By clearly stating the clause that supports the request, contractors ensure transparency and adherence to the regulations governing the adjustment process. This step plays a vital role in establishing a solid foundation for the claim.

Including Relevant Dates, Times, and Work Details

To strengthen the REA, the presenter recommends including the dates and times when the modification occurred. This information helps provide context and a chronological sequence of events. Additionally, contractors should outline the differences between the original and modified work, concisely specifying the scope of changes.

Supporting Cost Documentation

The presenter advises contractors to attach supporting documentation that justifies the requested adjustment. This documentation may include detailed cost breakdowns, relevant invoices, receipts, or any other applicable evidence. By substantiating the claim with concrete financial information, contractors enhance their chances of obtaining approval.

Scenarios Triggering an REA

The presenter highlights several scenarios that can trigger the need for an REA. These include situations where subcontractor or material costs increase unexpectedly. It is essential to document all changes and costs meticulously to provide a comprehensive overview of the circumstances surrounding the claim.

Written Authorization for Changes

Contractors should obtain written authorization from the contracting officer for any modifications to the work. This written communication serves as a crucial safeguard against potential misunderstandings or misinterpretations. By seeking written confirmation, contractors ensure clarity and avoid unnecessary disputes.

Compliance with Agency-Specific Regulations

When submitting an REA, contractors must adhere to any agency-specific regulations in addition to the federal acquisition regulation (FAR). The presenter emphasizes the importance of thoroughly reviewing and complying with these specific guidelines to ensure a comprehensive and compliant submission.

Documenting Authorized Personnel

The presenter emphasizes the significance of keeping records of government personnel who authorize modified work. This documentation helps establish a clear line of authority and validates the legitimacy of the adjustments made. Contractors should diligently document authorizations to enhance the credibility of their claims.</p>

Key FAR Clauses and Types of Changes

The presenter provides an overview of the essential FAR clauses that authorize REAs. In a detailed table, he outlines the specific contract types and their corresponding FAR clauses. Additionally, the presenter delves into various types of changes that may trigger an REA, including alterations to drawings, designs, specifications, and shipping or packaging methods.

Increased Costs in Manufacturing Contracts

The presenter explains that a common area for increased costs is in manufacturing contracts, whether the contractor is performing the manufacturing themselves or subcontracting it. He also provides the applicable FAR clauses related to research and development contracts, which are relatively uncommon.

Contracting Officer's Authority

In response to a question about unauthorized changes, the presenter clarifies that the contracting officer is the singular individual with the authority to modify the contract. Unless the contracting officer explicitly delegates this authority in writing to another party, any changes made by an unauthorized party would not be eligible for an REA.

Submitting Requests for Equitable Adjustment Early and Often

The presenter discusses a case involving the presenter's client's construction of an electrical substation. During the project, they encountered plan issues that necessitated re-drilling and re-machining. The client contacted the contracting officer, who verbally assured them that the changes would be approved. However, the contracting officer later denied authorizing the changes, claiming that the contractor was late in submitting the change orders.

Importance of Timely Communication with the Contracting Officer

In another case, the presenter recounts a situation where a client discovered that the soil was unsuitable for construction. Despite this, the contracting officer refused to authorize any changes. The presenter highlights the common occurrence of engineers or contracting officer representatives instructing contractors to make changes without proper authority.

Strategically Submitting Requests for Equitable Adjustment

To effectively protect the contractor's interests, the presenter advises submitting requests for equitable adjustment early and regularly. If the contracting officer fails to respond, the contractor should continue their work but may have a claim for delays caused by the government. It is crucial to understand that the government cannot unilaterally alter the contract. Therefore, if contractors reasonably rely on instructions from an authorized agent, there may be a claim for an implied contract.

Requesting Equitable Extension of Time for Pre-approved Costs

In situations where contractors require cost approvals before proceeding with work, the presenter suggests requesting an equitable extension of time. This allows contractors to manage their financial obligations while ensuring timely project completion.

Documenting Changes and Obtaining Approval

The presenter cautions against implementing changes requested by unauthorized individuals, as doing so may result in the contractor assuming unforeseen costs. Instead, contractors should meticulously document all changes and await the contracting officer's approval before moving forward. This approach protects both parties and ensures that changes are properly authorized.

Clarifying the Downsides and Benefits of Submitting Requests for Equitable Adjustment

Regarding potential downsides, the presenter clarifies that there is minimal harm in submitting a request for equitable adjustment. However, the presenter mentions potential political harm but emphasizes that there are no legal repercussions as long as the provided information is truthful. Nevertheless, the presenter advises against including speculative or false information, as this could violate the False Claims Act.

The Risk of Not Submitting a Request for Equitable Adjustment

The presenter believes there is a potential risk in not submitting a request for equitable adjustment. Should the government claim that the contractor did not comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause requiring notification of changes, it could negatively impact the contractor's position. Therefore, contractors should proactively submit requests to avoid any future difficulties.

Differentiating Requests for Equitable Adjustment from Claims

The presenter distinguishes between a request for equitable adjustment and a claim, noting that the latter is generally more contentious. RDAs are designed to initiate a non-adversarial conversation between the contractor and the government, whereas claims carry a more confrontational undertone.

Tips for Submitting a Successful Request for Equitable Adjustment

When submitting an REA, the presenter advises contractors to exercise tact and provide specific reasons for the request, such as increased material costs or labor shortages. Furthermore, they reference relevant FAR clauses (243-4, 243-5, 25433) concerning drawing specifications, acceleration of work, and method of award performance.

Addressing Potential Disagreements and Demonstrating Unforeseeable Cost Increases

The presenter emphasizes that a contracting officer should never deny an REA solely based on a technicality. Disagreements from the government are more severe but can be handled adeptly. Contractors may need to argue that the increased costs were beyond anyone's anticipation, using convincing evidence to support their claims.

Understanding the Purpose of Requests for Equitable Adjustment

Finally, the presenter reiterates that an REA is not a guaranteed solution for securing payment. However, it is a commonly utilized tool for negotiating contract changes and facilitating effective communication between contractors and the government.

The Importance of Submitting an REA

The submission of a Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) is emphasized as a crucial intermediate step in preserving claim rights. By submitting an REA, contractors can ensure that they have the opportunity to seek compensation for changes or unforeseen conditions that impact their contract performance.

Denial of an REA Does Not Limit Contractor's Rights

While the government may deny an REA, it's important for contractors to understand that they can still proceed with the work and file a contract claim within six years. Signing any documentation that waives the right to file a claim later should be avoided, as it may limit the contractor's ability to seek appropriate compensation in the future.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim

Clarifying the timeline for filing a claim, it is explained that the six-year statute of limitations begins from the date the change or condition arose, rather than from the close of the contract. Contractors should keep this in mind to ensure that they file their claim within the appropriate timeframe.

Filing a CDA Claim in Court

In the event of an REA denial by the contracting officer, contractors have the option to file a Contract Disputes Act (CDA) claim in court. This provides them with a legal recourse to seek resolution and appropriate compensation for the changes or conditions encountered during contract performance.

Changes in Labor Costs as Grounds for REA

Changes in labor costs, such as increases in prevailing wages, can serve as valid grounds for submitting an REA. Contractors should be aware of the potential impact on their costs and consider submitting an REA to seek equitable adjustment in such circumstances.

Imputed Knowledge of Government

It is important for contractors to understand that the government is assumed to have "imputed knowledge" of changes made by other agencies, such as the Department of Labor. Contractors should not assume that the government is unaware of these changes and should appropriately document and communicate any impact on contract performance and costs.

Submitting an REA: No "Magic Formula"

While there is no "magic formula" for submitting an REA, contractors should proactively alert the government to the increased costs incurred and provide a clear explanation of the reasons behind the request. Clear and effective communication is key in ensuring that the contractor's case for an equitable adjustment is well-presented.

Distinguishing an REA from a Claim

It is crucial to differentiate between an REA and a claim. Unlike a claim, an REA does not involve a conflict. Instead, it is a formal request for an adjustment to the contract terms, specifically addressing changes or conditions that have impacted performance or costs.

Subcontractors and REAs

Subcontractors should submit RDAs to the prime contractor, rather than directly to the government, as they do not have a direct contractual relationship with the government. It is the responsibility of the prime contractor to authorize the change and ensure appropriate payment to subcontractors.

Importance of Authorization from Prime Contractor

Subcontractors are advised to insist on receiving authorization from the prime contractor before proceeding with any requested changes. This ensures that subcontractors are protected and can be assured of timely payment for additional work or adjustments made to the contract.

Addressing Threats of Termination

Although prime contractors may threaten termination, it is essential to understand that they may not always be legally justified in doing so. In cases where subcontractors believe they are being wrongly threatened with termination, they may need to consider legal action to protect their rights and seek appropriate resolution.

Payment Responsibility Lies with the Prime Contractor

Regardless of whether the government has paid them, prime contractors are ultimately responsible for ensuring payment to subcontractors. It is crucial for subcontractors to understand this and to pursue payment from the prime contractor accordingly.

Understanding the REA Concept

The Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) is a term created within the industry to refer to a formal request made by contractors seeking adjustments in either time or money due to changes or unforeseen conditions impacting their contract performance.

Force Majeure and Excusable Delay

The concept of force majeure is discussed, highlighting its potential impact on contract performance. Force majeure can allow for an excusable delay under certain circumstances, and contractors should be aware of their rights and responsibilities in such situations.

Written Requests for Delay

To ensure proper documentation and communication, requests for delay should always be made in writing to the contracting officer. This helps establish a clear record of the contractor's position and justifications for the requested adjustment.

Filing a Request for Adjustment

The process of filing a request for adjustment with the contracting officer is outlined. Contractors should follow the appropriate procedures, providing all necessary documentation and clear arguments to support their case for an equitable adjustment.

Constructive Changes versus Cardinal Changes

Contractors should understand the difference between constructive changes and cardinal changes within a contract. While there may not always be a clear distinction between the two, documenting all changes and submitting them to the contracting officer is crucial to ensure that the contractor's rights are protected.

Preparing for Unexpected Changes

To handle unexpected changes that may arise during contract performance, contractors are advised to have a financial reserve or "war chest" available. This can help mitigate the potential impact of unforeseen adjustments and provide some financial stability throughout the project duration.

Changes in Labor Rates and Filing an REA

The impact of changes in labor rates on contractors and their ability to file a Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) is a topic of interest. It is important to note that contractors can typically submit an REA in such circumstances. Specifically, contractors have the opportunity to seek adjustments to the contract terms and pricing to account for changes in prevailing wage rates.

Timing of Prevailing Wage Rate Changes

Changes in prevailing wage rates generally take effect at the beginning of the next option period. Therefore, contractors should be proactive and submit their RDAs before the new rates go into effect. By doing so, they can ensure a timely review and consideration of their requested adjustments.

Submission Methods

While putting the request in writing is crucial, a phone call may suffice if the contractor maintains a strong rapport with the contracting officer. It is essential to explore the most effective and appropriate communication method to initiate the REA process.

Legal Claim for Remaining Balance on Small Warrant

Understanding Contract Non-completion and Claims

When evaluating a potential claim for the remaining balance on a small warrant, it is vital to comprehend the reasons behind the contract's non-completion. This understanding forms the basis for determining if a legal claim can be made for the balance.

Negotiating a Settlement Offer

In the event of a contract termination by the government for convenience, contractors may be able to engage in negotiations for a settlement offer. This can help address any outstanding amounts and resolve the situation amicably.

Limits on Government Termination

Government contracts cannot be terminated based solely on finding a better deal elsewhere. Termination should stem from legal grounds, such as a change in requirements or other valid justifications.

Potential Claims for Costs Incurred

Under certain circumstances, contractors may have a claim if the government issues a firm fixed price contract, and the contractor has incurred costs in reliance on that contract. Claim potential should be evaluated based on the specific contract terms and relevant regulations.

Types of Government Contracts

There are various types of government contracts, including firm fixed price contracts, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts, and time and materials contracts. Familiarity with these diverse contract structures is essential for contractors to navigate the complexities of claims and adjustment processes effectively.

Further Assistance and Timeframe for RDAs

For more specific guidance or tailored advice, the speaker encourages individuals to email them with additional details. Additionally, it is crucial to file a request for equitable adjustment within the timeframe specified in the contract, typically ranging from 30 to 90 days. While missing the deadline alone may not be a basis for denying the claim, it is important to avoid excessive delays, as precedent suggests waiting for an extended period may jeopardize the claim's viability.

Filing a Contract Disputes Act (CDA) Claim

The Statute of Limitations for Filing a CDA Claim
The contracting officer has six years to file a Contract Disputes Act (CDA) claim, highlighting the importance of timely action in such cases.

Commencement of Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations begins when the contracting officer denies a request for equitable adjustment. It is essential to be aware of this starting point to avoid any delay in the claim process.

Caution in Preparing a Request for Equitable Adjustment

While preparing a request for equitable adjustment, contractors should be mindful not to go too far and unintentionally trigger a shorter filing deadline for an appeal. Taking precautions in this regard can help avert unforeseen complications.

Prompt Notification of Changes in Conditions and Costs

Contractors should promptly notify the contracting officer about any changes in conditions and anticipated costs. This proactive approach fosters transparency and facilitates smoother resolution of disputes.

Anticipatory Request for Equitable Adjustment

To avoid unnecessary complications, it is advisable for contractors to request an equitable adjustment in anticipation of costs, rather than after costs have already been incurred.

Estimating Additional Costs

A request for equitable adjustment should serve as an estimate or a close estimate of the additional costs associated with performing a change in the scope of work. Providing an accurate and comprehensive estimate is crucial for a successful claim.

Interpreting the Response from the Contracting Officer

If the contracting officer responds to a request for equitable adjustment as if it were a CDA claim, it should raise a red flag for the contractor. Such response may indicate that the contracting officer has viewed the request as a dispute.

Adhering to the Statute of Limitations for Filing a CDA Claim

Contractors are strongly advised to strictly adhere to the statute of limitations when filing a CDA claim. Failure to do so can have significant consequences and potentially lead to unfavorable outcomes.

Final Decision and the Option to Appeal

If the contracting officer's final decision does not explicitly mention the opportunity to appeal, the contractor may be able to argue that it was not a final decision. Contractors should be cautious and assume a decision is final to avoid adverse outcomes in court.

Attorney's Fees in a CDA Claim

Under certain circumstances, a CDA claim may include attorney's fees, provided the specific requirements are met. Contractors should be aware of this potential benefit when preparing their claims.

Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA)

The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) provides avenues for companies to seek reimbursement for fees incurred during the claim process. Contractors should familiarize themselves with the requirements for qualifying under this act.

Including Professional Fees in the Claim

Contractors can include fees paid to accountants or attorneys for assistance in drafting a request for equitable adjustment as part of their claim. This provision allows contractors to be fairly compensated for their efforts.

By following best practices and understanding the intricacies of the process, contractors can effectively navigate the complexities of filing a CDA claim while protecting their rights and interests.