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West Virginia Amends Public Project Change Order Process then Adopts Emergency Rule Restoring Previous Process

On July 1, 2015, amendments to West Virginia’s laws governing public construction took effect.  Among the changes ushered in by those amendments was a new requirement that all change orders for public construction be approved by the Purchasing Division of the West Virginia State Government before the contractor could begin the change order work.  Unfortunately, because of the bureaucracy and related delays necessary to obtain approval of a change order by the Purchasing Division, the amended legislation effectively required lengthy stoppages of work on active construction sites and had the potential to result in costly and unfeasible delays at the expense of taxpayers.  Accordingly, less than a month the amendments took effect, on July 31, 2015, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant signed Decision 8-15 approving an emergency rule clarifying that change orders related to government construction contracts do not require prior approval from the Purchasing Division.

Accordingly, after the issuance of the emergency rule, the procedure for change orders on public projects has returned to the status quo – public agencies are colored with the authority to approve change orders on behalf of the State but are required to file construction change orders with the Purchasing Division “in a timely fashion.”

A copy of the emergency rule, which includes a revised version of Title 148, Series 1 (i.e. the “Legislative Rule” governing public procurement in West Virginia) may be found here.