The Robert C. Byrd Greenbank Telescope

  • Client

    Associated Universities, Inc.

  • Location

    Greenbank, WV

Greenbank Telescope

The Robert C. Byrd Greenbank Telescope, located in Greenbank, WV, is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. Prior to 2016 the Greenbank Telescope was part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and was operated by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI). The Greenbank Telescope is currently operated by the Greenbank Observatory.

The contract to design and construct the Greenbank Telescope had an agreed fixed price of $55 Million, with work to begin in December 1990, and to be completed by the end of 1994. The contract terms required the telescope to be designed and built to performance specifications, placing most of the performance risks associated with the project on the contractor, COMSAT Corporation. The telescope was accepted from the contractor in October 2000, nearly six years later than the original contract delivery date. During the entire period of contract work, the only agreed change in scope was a single change order for $150,000, executed in August of 1993.

In 1998, COMSAT sought an additional payment of approximately $29 Million above the contracted amount, alleging the AUI has forced it to build the telescope to an unreasonable standard of performance. AUI maintained that the COMSAT claim was without merit and filed its own claim against COMSAT, in the amount of approximately $13 Million.

Draper & Associates was engaged by AUI to perform a schedule delay and damages analysis for this project. After negotiations between the parties failed, COMSAT called for an arbitration by the American Arbitration Association, as the contract specified. After a lengthy period of discovery, a formal hearing was held during which a Draper & Associates Consultant testified. The record shows that, the arbitrator issued his decision citing Draper & Associates’ schedule analysis as the basis for the award.