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McCaskill, Collins Demand Answers on $70 Million Settlement with Contractor DynCorp

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Severe soil settling has caused this guardhouse to lean and its surrounding walls to crack. SIGAR has recently identified significant soil stability issues at the construction site of the Kunduz ANA garrison. (SIGAR photo)

Senators see ‘harm to taxpayers’ in government’s decision to pay contractor for inadequate and incomplete work on construction contracts in Afghanistan

(Office of Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) – WASHINGTON – November 20, 2012 -In a bipartisan effort to protect taxpayer dollars, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today sought answers from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) concerning its decision to approve a $70.8 million dollar settlement with the contractor DynCorp International for faulty construction of an Afghan Army garrison. According to a report by the Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) that questioned the settlement, some of the structures built by the contractor had completely “failed” and were either “unsafe, uninhabitable, or unusable.”

In a letter to Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers for the Army Corps, McCaskill and Collins address multiple reports of waste and mismanagement associated with the contract, asking General Bostick to provide them with information that would justify the $70.8 million settlement.

“It looks like we paid $70 million for a contract that delivered next to nothing-any reasonable person is going to ask why,” said McCaskill, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. “Every taxpayer dollar spent in Afghanistan is a dollar that wasn’t spent to build a school or repair a road right here at home, and I think it’s critical that we really scrutinize what we’re getting for the money we’re spending on projects halfway around the world.”

“Many questions are raised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to let Dyncorp off the hook for poor performance in a settlement agreement made in connection with contracts to construct a garrison for the Afghan National Army,” said Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “The Corps of Engineers has been unable to provide a justification, despite repeated requests from Congress and the Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The IG audit on the construction of this garrison documented a number of failures. Such failures undermine our national security objective in Afghanistan to train and support the Afghan National Army. This settlement agreement appears to be yet another inexcusable failure of oversight that undermines the overall mission in Afghanistan and wastes taxpayer dollars.”

In 2008, the USACE awarded DynCorp two contracts worth $72.8 million to build a garrison for the Afghan National Army. When SIGAR issued a report last month, much of the facility was found to be improperly built, with some structures severely damaged or collapsed. Despite this, in December of 2011, USACE released DynCorp from all contractual obligations, including any obligation to fix or repair existing facilities. The payments to DynCorp totaled $70.8 million, nearly 97% of the contract’s value.

In an attempt to get to the bottom of how and why the settlement was given, Senators Collins and McCaskill asked the USACE to provide information including:

  • Any evaluations or audits of the contractor’s performance;
  • The justification for entering into the settlement agreement with DynCorp, including a copy of the settlement agreement; and
  • The names and titles of all officials responsible for reviewing and approving the settlement agreement.

The full text of the letter to General Bostick is available below:
Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick
Commanding General and Chief of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street
Washington, DC 20314

Dear General Bostick:

The oversight jurisdiction of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee includes “the duty of studying the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of all agencies and departments.” For that purpose, we are writing to request information regarding the recent decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to pay the contractor DynCorp International LLC (DynCorp) more than $70 million, under contracts worth $72.8 million, despite severe defects with the contractor’s work.
In 2008, USACE awarded DynCorp two contracts to construct a garrison for the Afghan National Army in Kunduz province. The contracts, with a combined value of $72.8 million, were intended to strengthen Afghanistan’s capacity to train, support, and equip the Afghan National Security Force.[1]
On October 25, 2012, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) issued a report finding that the construction of the garrison was so poor that several buildings at the garrison were unsafe, uninhabitable, or unusable. According to SIGAR, large areas throughout the construction site had collapsed due to DynCorp’s failure to provide proper grading and drainage of the site. SIGAR also found “virtually non-existent” quality management by USACE during the first nine months of construction. In addition, SIGAR found that the construction of the project was delayed by more than two years.[2]

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