Corps Projects Left Unfinished; Army Engineers Don't Get Their Money's Worth

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Corps Projects Left Unfinished; Army Engineers Don't Get Their Money's Worth


Byline: Kristina Wong, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A $3 million U.S.-contracted schools project in Afghanistan remains grossly unfinished more than four years after the start of construction because the Army Corps of Engineers did not hold the contractor accountable for the work it has been paid to do, a new report by a U.S. government watchdog says.

This raises concerns because we have previously reported instances in which [the Corps of Engineers] failed to hold its contractors accountable for accomplishing the work they were paid to perform, says the report by the Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction, The IG believes that [the Army Corps of Engineers] must take immediate action to hold contractors accountable when they fail to deliver on their commitments."

The report focuses on the contract to build the Sheberghan Teaching Training Facility in the Jawzjan province in northern Afghanistan.

In February 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Corps of Engineers awarded a $2.9 million contract to Iraqi company Mercury Development to build three educational facilities in Jawzjan by December 2010. The contract was extended to the following June, and the price increased to $3.4 million.

Before the project could be completed, Mercury Development walked away with $3.1 million. In one building, water, sewage and electrical systems remain unfinished, and exposed electrical wiring imperils occupants to shocks and fire hazards, the report says.

But the Corps of Engineers closed the contract and signed documents that said the construction was physically completed and all outstanding issues had been resolved.

Corps of Engineers officials were unable to explain this decision because they were not the responsible officials in Afghanistan at that time, the report says.

A second contractor, Afghan-owned Zafarkhaliq Construction Co., was awarded $153,000 to finish the project, but had difficulties completing construction. The Corps of Engineers released that contractor from its obligations after it had completed only 65 percent of the work for more than $130,000, the report says. …

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