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General Laws

Section 39Q. (1) Every contract awarded by any state agency as defined by section thirty-nine A of chapter seven for the construction, reconstruction, alteration, remodeling, repair or demolition of any capital facility as defined by the aforesaid section thirty-nine A shall contain the following subparagraphs (a) through (d) in their entirety:

(a) Disputes regarding changes in and interpretations of the terms or scope of the contract and denials of or failures to act upon claims for payment for extra work or materials shall be resolved according to the following procedures, which shall constitute the exclusive method for resolving such disputes. Written notice of the matter in dispute shall be submitted promptly by the claimant to the chief executive official of the state agency which awarded the contract or his designee. No person or business entity having a contract with a state agency shall delay, suspend, or curtail performance under that contract as a result of any dispute subject to this section. Any disputed order, decision or action by the agency or its authorized representative shall be fully performed or complied with pending resolution of the dispute.

(b) Within thirty days of submission of the dispute to the chief executive official of the state agency or his designee, he shall issue a written decision stating the reasons therefor, and shall notify the parties of their right of appeal under this section. If the official or his designee is unable to issue a decision within thirty days, he shall notify the parties to the dispute in writing of the reasons why a decision cannot be issued within thirty days and of the date by which the decision shall issue. Failure to issue a decision within the thirty-day period or within the additional time period specified in such written notice shall be deemed to constitute a denial of the claim and shall authorize resort to the appeal procedure described below. The decision of the chief executive official or his designee shall be final and conclusive unless an appeal is taken as provided below.

(c) Within twenty-one calendar days of the receipt of a written decision or of the failure to issue a decision as stated in the preceding subparagraph, any aggrieved party may file a notice of claim for an adjudicatory hearing with the division of hearing officers or the aggrieved party may file an action directly in a court of competent jurisdiction and shall serve copies thereof upon all other parties in the form and manner prescribed by the rules governing the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings of the division of hearing officers. In the event an aggrieved party exercises his option to file an action directly in court as provided in the previous sentence, the twenty-one day period shall not apply to such filing and the period of filing such action shall be the same period otherwise applicable for filing a civil action in superior court. The appeal shall be referred to a hearing officer experienced in construction law and shall be prosecuted in accordance with the formal rules of procedure for the conduct of adjudicatory hearings of the division of hearing officers, except as provided below. The hearing officer shall issue a final decision as expeditiously as possible, but in no event more than one hundred and twenty calendar days after conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing, unless the decision is delayed by a request for extension of time for filing post-hearing briefs or other submissions assented to by all parties. Whenever, because an extension of time has been granted, the hearing officer is unable to issue a decision within one hundred and twenty days, he shall notify all parties of the reasons for the delay and the date when the decision will issue. Failure to issue a decision within the one hundred and twenty-day period or within the additional period specified in such written notice shall give the petitioner the right to pursue any legal remedies available to him without further delay.

(d) When the amount in dispute is less than ten thousand dollars, a contractor who is party to the dispute may elect to submit the appeal to a hearing officer experienced in construction law for expedited hearing in accordance with the informal rules of practice and procedure of the division of hearing officers. An expedited hearing under this subparagraph shall be available at the sole option of the contractor. The hearing officer shall issue a decision no later than sixty days following the conclusion of any hearing conducted pursuant to this subparagraph. The hearing officer’s decision shall be final and conclusive, and shall not be set aside except in cases of fraud.

(2) The commissioner of administration shall require the division of hearings officers to prepare annually a report concerning the construction contract claims submitted to the division during the preceding twelve months, in such form as the commissioner shall prescribe. The report shall contain, at a minimum, the following information: the number of claims submitted; the names of all parties to each such claim; a brief description of the claim; the date of submission and of disposition of the claim; its disposition, whether by settlement, withdrawal, default or written decision; and the number of claims currently pending. The original of the report shall be submitted to the commissioner of administration by January fifteenth, and a copy shall be filed with the state librarian and shall be a public document.

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