Other peoples money and more of the waste.


Pentagon paid half million for buildings that 'melted,' had to be rebuilt

By Sarah Westwood | January 15, 2015 | 5:00 am
Photo - Afghan National Police officers carry boxes of equipment during their graduation ceremony at a National Police training center in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, August 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) Afghan National Police officers carry boxes of equipment during their graduation ceremony at a...

Afghan government officials were forced to scrap a costly training facility built on the Pentagon’s dime after its walls “melted” and the site became too dangerous to use.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction had unusually harsh words for the failed project, calling it “not only an embarrassment” but “a waste of U.S. taxpayers’ money,” given the fact that Afghans had to tear down the Defense Department contractors’ work and rebuild it themselves.

Pentagon officials awarded a $456,669 contract to Qesmatullah Nasrat Construction Company in March 2012 to design and build a dry-fire range for the Afghan Special Police Training Center in the Wardak province of Afghanistan.

The range was built to resemble a typical Afghan village where police could practice search-and-clearance procedures and was referred to as “dry” because exercises there were conducted without live ammunition. Defense Department contracting officials signed off on the completed facility in October 2012, triggering the start of a year-long warranty.

But four months later, buildings in the fake village had begun to disintegrate and attention turned to the Afghan company that built it with shoddy materials.

Although representatives conducted seven site visits during construction of the range, none of their reports mentioned any deficiencies. One report from the October site visit suggested the project was finished without a single missing item.

Pentagon officials and representatives from Qesmatullah Nasrat visited the range in March and April of 2013 after contracting officers learned of problems at the facility earlier that year.

The pair of visits revealed construction flaws for the first time and prompted Pentagon officials to recommend the whole facility be stripped to the foundation and rebuilt correctly after they deemed it “completely unsafe," SIGAR said.

For example, Defense Department contracting officials discovered Qesmatullah Nasrat used plastic sheeting in the roofs and didn’t tilt them to allow rain to run off.

The drainage pipes had gaps that allowed water to drip inside the buildings, the report said. Bricks made almost entirely of sand were smaller than the contract required and crumbled when water seeped into them.

“It appears the contractor intentionally used different materials and construction standards to cut costs or/and fraud the government,” Pentagon officials concluded after the 2013 site visits.

Even though SIGAR found multiple instances of contractor misconduct, such as swapping out materials specified in the contract with inferior products, the watchdog said it didn’t find enough evidence to debar or even suspend the contractor, the report said.

Qesmatullah Nasrat proposed a series of plans to fix the crumbling range in response to the Pentagon’s findings, but none addressed the full extent of the problems and all left the range intact despite calls to tear it down.

The contractor later insisted it had finished select repairs to the site in a string of emails sent between June and November 2013, but the work was never verified.

Qesmatullah Nasrat claimed its staff couldn’t finish fixing the leaky roof because Afghan National Police officials prevented them from accessing the site.

But the Afghan police commander at the training site denied ever having barred Qesmullah Nasrat from entering the range.

“The commander claimed the contractor fabricated the story because of its unwillingness to complete the repair work covered under warranty,” SIGAR reported.

The watchdog noted its inability to locate any photographic evidence of the repairs and cited Qesmatullah Nasrat’s “unexplained” claim that staff weren’t allowed to bring cameras on the range.

Pentagon officials later said they couldn’t compel the contractor to finish sealing roofs before the one-year warranty ended, which would have created an unfunded liability for the government.

Afghan police said their own government officials ultimately razed the range in September 2014 and began rebuilding walls with kiln-fired clay bricks and cement, SIGAR noted.

Despite the fact that the Afghan police training commander sent photographs of the demolition, Defense Department contracting officers said they had no knowledge of the reconstruction effort.

The Afghan commander said special police from provinces across Afghanistan had traveled to the range for training before construction flaws rendered the facility unusable.

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  • Darn if I know, Pat.  O had "shovel ready projects" and did nothing but waste the money.  Congress just touts new taxes for repair and rebuilding our roads.  In Afghanistan they actually built something (not needed IMHO) and it melts. 

    Just how many lawyers, college degrees and brains have participated in this farce?  Something that our army did in Europe while fighting WWII.

    • I swear if you listen to them now much talk about hardening the grid, infrastructure, jobs along with safety nets. Back in 2008 time frame  the grid was talked about, hardening and smart grid. Well money flowed yet here we are no smart grid nor is it hardened. As you pointed out shovel ready projects still waiting for shovels yet money flowed.

      Jobs well better numbers -- 1/2 time jobs and jobs for whom? Here the safety nets are necessary because jobs will not pay well nor will they end up being jobs that require 40 hr week for the large number of little people. Fuel cost down, how convenient to try and induce people to spend more at the holidays and the big one coming raise taxes on fuel.

      Now the clamoring I am hearing is that people should have to pay more and states commission for such things as electricity and internet use should consider the costs that these public entities must put in to protecting be shared on our bills.

      The Cuba thing is going to be very costly, count on that.

      I listened to LaGaurde of the IMF last night and I took away that the thinking that more thought must be in the international and as such we must share, spread the pain, over all nations peoples. No ones nations little people can prosper over another. Certainly plenty of proof that Obama shares her views.

      I do think it will 'appear' in 2015 and part of 2016 that employment and the like is good but will rise again after that. The years ahead and the state of the world and our nation no going to be pretty but the Hill folks will put ever more security and prosperity in place for themselves. What fools they are.

      World sustainability is going to be an ugly thing to behold.

      • Pat, "share the pain"?  O.K.  Just make sure they point out that the United States pays most of the money for the U.N.  And while we are at it we should stress that the United States spends more on other countries than all the other countries combined.  It's one big "con" being perpetrated on the U.S. Citizens.  Not to mention the "con" congress and the administration does to us.

        • Norma, It is true that the U.S. the biggest contributor of funds to the UN, IMF, WTO, World bank and all others. They do  that say for the IMF for example to hold the top spot for veto power. Its an almighty dollar thing. Equally true that the U.S. will with hold obligations that it agreed to to get its way. Economic warfare tool.

          It is a "con" of the highest order perpetrated against Americans.

          The rest of the world sets by in many respects letting the nanny US govt take the load -- be it the Islamist or western allies they do not like us -- Oh how they no how to manipulate our govt -- works for them.

          • One more thing, Pat, the U.N. now has more anti-American or communist countries that are going against the U.S. and we still pay the most.  They critize the U.S. and Obama agrees with them.

  • Oh good grief! The Afghans and Americans all guilty of lying, corruption and defrauding the "little peoples" of America. They can not be embarrassed -- so what now?

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