Today, SIGAR published a letter that alerts DOD to a serious safety issue involving the installation of noncertified fire doors in 25 recently constructed Ministry of Interior (MOI) buildings.
The letter notes:
— The use of noncertified fire doors, despite contract requirements calling for certified fire doors, raises concerns about the safety of the buildings, whether the government overpaid for inferior products, and whether the contractors defrauded the government when they installed doors that did not meet contract requirements.
— Although this letter focuses on the MOI compound, our concerns extend to all completed and ongoing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) construction projects in Afghanistan that required the installation of certified fire doors.
— Fire doors protect the main paths occupants use to exit a building when a fire occurs and limit the spread of smoke and flames. Lack of such protection in the event of a fire increases the occupants’ risk of injury or death.
— SIGAR observed conditions that raise questions about who actually manufactured the fire doors, whether the doors are fire-resistant, and whether USACE conducted sufficient contract oversight, including:
1) None of the 153 fire doors installed under Phase 2 of construction had a manufacturer’s label.
2) Under Phase 3, certifying labels displayed a certifying agency logo. Officials from that agency confirmed that they never certified the doors and that the inclusion of the logo on the door labels was unauthorized.
3) During a site visit, SIGAR saw contracted staff attaching metal labels to doors after the doors arrived at the MOI compound. Presumably, the contractor would have installed the labels at the factory if they had actually manufactured these doors.
4) We found that 736 doors installed under Phase 3 had “field labeled” tags, which appeared to have been installed to make the doors look more official. Our work confirmed that these labels provided misleading information.
— While reviewing submittals, SIGAR did not see any evidence that the contractors informed USACE that they were deviating from the contract’s requirement for certified doors.
— SIGAR did not see any evidence that USACE reviewers made any effort to question the contractor’s submittal about this requirement.