I-TEAM: Fort Gordon housing contractor collects millions in bonuses
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Our I-TEAM has uncovered the private company in charge of housing at Fort Gordon has been pocketing millions of your tax-payer dollars in bonus checks.
Balfour Beatty has been collecting these payments for years, even as our I-TEAM exposed military families were living in unsafe homes on post. We never could put a dollar figure on these bonus checks until the Army finally agreed to release the documents we’ve been trying to get our hands on for years.
We now have the bonus structure for roughly six and a half years. Considering some managers get four bonuses a year, it adds up quickly. During that time, we counted 12 bonus checks for more than $92,000 each.
We uncovered another eight bonus checks for more than $85,000 each.
When we crunched the numbers and added all the bonus checks together, we found Balfour Beatty managers collected more than $2.4 million in bonus checks at Fort Gordon from June 2013 to February 2020. It’s important to note that during this time, it’s not like housing at Fort Gordon was getting rave reviews.
On the very first page of the documents, dated June of 2013, it’s quite the opposite.
It notes Balfour Beatty “continues to struggle” with “providing quality houses to our soldiers.” Yet the Garrison Commander still gives Balfour Beatty a perfect score for “resident satisfaction” and recommends a bonus check of more than $79,000.
Colonel Robert Barker notes he’s “dissatisfied with efforts to improve occupancy,” so it’s safe to assume management could’ve had a bigger bonus. However, it wouldn’t have been for better housing.
It would have been if more soldiers were living on post. Keep in mind this came just a year and a half after crews demolished 70 units considered “unfit for soldiers.”
Just months before, six-month-old Evelyn Shelton stopped breathing.
Her mom blames mold in their home.
It’s a complaint our I-TEAM has been documenting for more than a decade now. We’ve been collecting photos and medical records, but these documents confirm Balfour Beatty’s managers have also been collecting bonus checks the entire time.
After that first page, we see more of the same, and the bonus checks continue for years. We never see a document during that time frame where a bonus is denied.
Instead, we found that 14 times in a row, “resident satisfaction” gets a perfect score.
This is also the time when we see the biggest bonus checks of all: two for more than $98,000. Something interesting happens in 2019, though. That was the same year the I-TEAM sits down for multiple interviews with different families living at Fort Gordon who all have similar complaints. The bonus checks appear to reflect that.
MORE THAN A DECADE OF I-TEAM COVERAGE:
- New housing has same old problems at Fort Gordon, families say
- Fort Gordon housing investigation
- Ossoff returns to Fort Gordon to announce progress
- Families share stories on Fort Gordon housing problems
- Fort Gordon housing investigation could bring consequences
- Fort Gordon housing provider pleads guilty to fraud scheme
- How military families feel about housing settlement
- 10 years later, we hear from the private company that provides housing on Fort Gordon
- Mold, filth linger in Fort Gordon housing, investigators find
- U.S. Army kept in the dark about many issues, employee says
- Asking about Balfour Beatty complaints only raises more questions
- Some companies still fail to address safety issues in military housing
- Explaining the safety behind the Tenant Bill of Rights
- Housing company responds to allegations about drowning at Fort Gordon
- Mold, bugs, and safety issues put spotlight on housing provider
- GAO report shows much work to be done for private military housing
- Mold at Fort Gordon? Part 1 and Part 2
- Crews demolish housing unfit for Fort Gordon service members
- 8 years after reports of mold at homes, problems may still exist
We found the incentive fee request, dated Jan. 29, 2019, was just before we re-launched our investigation.
Then-Garrison Commander Col. James Clifford gives Balfour Beatty a perfect score across the board and approves a bonus of $98,772. Next quarter, we found the incentive fee request from July 26.
Resident satisfaction drops from a perfect score to 8.75 percent.
There’s a perfect score on “service order response,” but “quality of change of occupancy maintenance” goes from a perfect score to zero percent.
The same goes for “Command and RCI satisfaction.” Col. Clifford approves a much lower Balfour bonus; he only signs off on around $58,000 of the almost $100,000 requested. By the following request on Oct. 29, Colonel Clifford himself admitted in an interview with our I-TEAM that Balfour Beatty failed some of our Fort Gordon families.
Meredith: “There have been life and health safety issues.”
Col Clifford: “There have.”
By this point, five brand new I-TEAM investigations had hit the airwaves. The next quarterly bonus document could be a direct reflection of our I-TEAM reporting.
“Resident satisfaction” fell to just 3.75%, and for the first time, “service order response” took a hit.
Colonel Clifford takes his previous property management incentive fee of $58,634.85 and lowers it even more to $45,627.61. Again, just months before, he approved a bonus check of almost $100,000.
Here’s why those big bonus bucks are so important: just last year, Balfour Beatty pleaded guilty to defrauding the US Government. Specifically, two former Balfour Beatty managers at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas faced criminal charges for covering up poor housing conditions to collect millions in bonus checks.
It begs the question: were Balfour Beatty managers covering things up at Fort Gordon, too? According to these new documents, they also received millions in bonuses at Fort Gordon during those very same years.
All Balfour Beatty bonuses are suspended at Fort Gordon right now. The Army stopped them one day after Senator John Ossoff, Chairman of the Senate PSI Committee, led a hearing in Washington D.C. back in April.
In it, he released the results of his own investigation alleging persisting problems with housing at Fort Gordon.
He cited our I-TEAM reporting multiple times and credited us for laying the groundwork for that hearing to happen.
The Army has also launched its own investigation and audit at Fort Gordon, and we haven’t stopped digging, either. Of course, we will keep you updated.
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