By NEIL GORDON
On Thursday, the government’s Afghanistan reconstruction watchdog released a report showing that the U.S. military has failed to address serious construction deficiencies at an Afghan Army garrison that have persisted for more than two years. The report also criticized the military’s handling of the construction contractor, DynCorp International, which was released of its obligation to repair the deficiencies.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) paid DynCorp almost $71 million to oversee construction of the garrison, Camp Pamir, in Kunduz Province on Afghanistan’s northern border. In April 2010, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported that the facilities at Camp Pamir were at risk of structural failure because of poor site grading and serious soil stability issues. During a follow-up inspection this year, SIGAR found that USACE had failed to address the soil stability problem, and identified additional structural failures (one of which is pictured above), improper grading, and new sink holes.
Perhaps the most troubling finding is that, despite DynCorp’s unsatisfactory performance, USACE released the contractor in December 2011 under a settlement that absolved DynCorp of responsibility for fixing the structural defects. Not only was DynCorp paid in full and released from all existing or future warranty obligations, USACE also retroactively extended the contract duration date by 948 days (to make it appear that DynCorp had met contractual deadlines) and changed DynCorp’s unsatisfactory performance ratings to satisfactory.
According to SIGAR, the settlement “appears to be on unfavorable terms to the U.S. government.”
“While the settlement closed out both contracts and relieved DynCorp of substantial current and future contractual liability for construction defects and other issues, USACE appears to have received little or nothing in return,” the report concluded.
Taxpayers took a nearly $2 million hit to pay for another company to come in and complete DynCorp’s work, and comprehensive remediation of the site will leave us on the hook for millions more.
SIGAR determined that the settlement with DynCorp violated a provision of the Federal Acquisition Regulation requiring contract settlements above a certain dollar amount to be submitted for independent agency review before they are finalized. SIGAR has asked USACE to provide a written explanation of its rationale behind the settlement.
POGO has written before about DynCorp’s checkered history in Afghanistan. The company currently ranks as the 32nd largest federal contractor in POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, with more than $2 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2010. It is one of the prime contractors on the Army’s multi-billion dollar LOGCAP IV logistics support contract.
In recent years, some high-ranking government officials have gone through the revolving door to DynCorp. For example, former Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan commissioner Michael Thibault last year became a vice president at DynCorp. There have even been a few Pentagon revolvers: former CENTCOM Commander Anthony Zinni, Former Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker, and retired Generals John Tilelli and James Myles have recently held, or still hold, senior positions at DynCorp.
Neil Gordon is an investigator with the Project On Government Oversight. Image: Exterior Structural Failure, Building 603 (latrine), Kunduz Army Garrison, March 2012. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Kunduz ANA Garrison: Army Corps of Engineers Released DynCorp of all Contractual Obligations Despite Poor Performance and Structural Failures, SIGAR Inspection – 13-1, October 2012.Follow @NEGordon