I-TEAM: We asked a simple question about Balfour Beatty complaints. Our answer only turned up more questions

Published: Sep. 20, 2019 at 3:48 PM EDT
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Friday, Sept. 20, 2019

News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

FORT GORDON, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Our I-Team has been investigating problems with military housing at Fort Gordon, but we have uncovered a problem that appears to be Army-wide.

It all started with a simple question our I-Team sent all the way to Washington DC. The answer wasn't exactly what we expected.

We sent the letter July 24, citing the Freedom of Information Act. Our request was pretty simple; we wanted a list of all complains filed against Balfour Beatty, Balfour Beatty Construction, Balfour Beatty Communities, and any other configuration of the name Balfour Beatty.

We wrote it this way just to cover our bases in more ways than one.

Balfour Beatty is one of several private companies in charge of military housing across the country. It's the only one at Fort Gordon.

After uncovering electrical issues, mold complaints, pest problems and gas issues on post, we wanted to see any potential problems Army-wide.

And that answer could expose another possible problem: Oversight.

This week, got a response to our FOIA request.

"The Headquarters, Army Contracting Command is not the records custodian for contract records,” the response said. “Once we have correct contract numbers, your request will be re-directed to the subordinate contracting center that maintains the identified contracts."

The FOIA officer confirmed complaints are connected to the contract and not the company. So for his office to give us that info, we would have to wade through the more than 9,000 results when searching for Balfour Beatty contracts.

Narrowing it down to ones with the Department of defense only, we shrunk the number to 2,589. For the Department of the Army alone, that number is 1,414.

That could mean we'd have to send more than a thousand requests just to get a clear picture.

Does this mean the government doesn't have a clear picture?

Keep in mind, Balfour Beatty has billions in contracts and some of them cover 50 years, so we thought this would be a pretty simple request.

But the answer we received was anything but simple.

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