Facilities Planning

Change Orders

A change order is used to officially make changes in a signed contract for capital
construction, whereas an addendum is used to change plans and specifications before bids are received.

A change order may be required to accommodate a discovered job condition, to add or delete certain portions of the work, or otherwise change a condition or the amount of the contract. It may be issued without competitive bidding; however, no important change may be made which so varies the original plan or is of such importance as to constitute a new undertaking (Opinion of State Comptroller #60-505). This means that, under normal circumstances, a change order may NOT expand the scope of work, or represent a basic departure from work already included in the contract. An example of a typical exception would be where the specified removal of a roof revealed deteriorating roof deck. Correction of the condition of the roof deck by change order would be proper even though such
correction was not originally specified.

The most common improper change order presented to the Office of Facilities
Planning is one expending unencumbered funds. Most often this occurs near the end of a project and the proposed change order introduces types of work which was not included in the original plans and specifications. Change orders for such work will not be approved; however, had a "shopping list" of desirable items been included in the original plans and specifications as "add" alternates, change orders to effect such alternates would be approved.

Following are some specifics about change orders:

  • All change orders must be approved by the Commissioner.
  • One copy must be submitted to Facilities Planning.
  • The change order shall be signed by the president of the board of education, the architect/engineer, and the contractor.
  • The SED Project Control Number and the name of the SED Project Manager must appear on the change order.
  • There must be sufficient detail and technical data to denote - 
    • what is being done
    • why it is being done
    • the cost of the change order
    • the revised contract total

All approved change orders are part of the official plans and specifications for the project and must be carefully filed with the approved plans and specifications for the project. If there are any questions concerning change orders, particularly whether the intended work is appropriate for a change order and will be approved, contact your Project Manager.



Change orders which exceed the NYS bidding threshold of $35,000 must include, on the change order certification, an explanation of why it is in the best interest of the school district and the public to award a change order instead of putting the work out to a public bid.  “Best Practice” would be to consult SED before awarding large change orders.


Last Updated: October 3, 2012