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Our CONS recently contracted for the demolition of a building constructed pre-WWII. The contract type is FFP.The tasks included "removal of ALL (emphasis added) material from the demolition". After the job was complete and the contractor had been paid, an employee of the contractor informed us confidentially that historical artifacts had been discovered in the building and removed by the contractor. The artifacts were found before the actual demolition had begun and were found where they could not have been seen during the bidders site survey (behind a wall in a crawl space). Does the Government have any rights to the recovery of these artifacts? Any guidance would be appreciated.

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Guest Vern Edwards

Assuming that the contract is silent on the matter, ask your judge advocate or general counsel. You don't need "guidance", from the people here, you need legal advice. I don't even know what constitutes an "artifact".

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Maybe consider the following amongst the Acquisition Team and your management as necessary (i.e. "The Government"):

1) Figure out exactly what your artifact is and why it is important.

2) Has the Government considered its courses of action? Options via contractual flexabilities or local, state, and Federal laws; and benefits, risks, costs, etc. of each option;

3) Which course of action has the Government selected?; and

4) What authority does the Government intend to rely on for its desired course of action? Is that authority valid?

Go down that path on a whiteboard with the Acquisition Team, validate any assumptions along the way, and make sure that you are including all of the disciplines (Program Manager/Project Manager/Legal Counsel/etc.)

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It might be that the contract is not silent, and I agree with Vern that the contract is the first place to go. If the contract contains the clause at FAR 52.237-4, -5, or -6, well, look at paragraphs ( d ), ( a ), or ( b ), respectively.

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Guest Vern Edwards

Send the contractor a letter saying that you've been told that it had recovered some historical artifacts at the demolition site and that you want to know if it's true. Then say that if it is true, you want them handed over post haste. See what happens. If you get something, then all you'll have to do is find someone to take it off your hands.

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