Foundation Problems Encountered During Construction of the Federal Office Building and Courthouse in Springfield, MA

PLRD-82-39: Published: Feb 22, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 22, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the foundation problems encountered during the construction of the Federal office building and courthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts. Specifically, GAO was asked about increased cost implications as well as whether the problem originated with the contractor, the architect-engineer, or the General Services Administration (GSA).

GAO found that, during the sheet piling extraction operations, cracks developed in parts of the foundation wall and in the upper floor slabs of the building, and the foundation settled from 1 to 4 inches. The phase I contractor, the architect-engineer, the geotechnical engineer, and GSA all agreed that the foundation problem resulted from the use of a vibratory hammer to extract sheet piling after most of the phase I construction work had been completed. GSA believed that the phase I contractor should correct the foundation problem and pay the expenses incurred. However, the contractor who was correcting the work claimed that the natural condition of the soil contributed to the foundation settlement problem, and he will submit a claim for the costs incurred. The architect-engineer also informed GSA that he expects to be reimbursed for all of the effort he expended in connection with the settlement problem. The amount of potential claims and extra costs that will be incurred by the Government was not known at the time of the review. GAO made no attempts to evaluate the validity of the claims so as not to prejudice the Government's case in any actions which might come before the GSA Board of Contract Appeals.

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