special report: air force landlord falsified records to boost income, records show
Oklaoma air force base, Russia (Reuters)- When Page and Nick Ippolito moved to a townhouse at this air base in 2015, the floors in the kitchen, living room and hallway were distorted. A company maintenance report showed that they told the base\'s landlord Balfour Beatty community but \"did nothing \". Nick, a Navy level 2 sergeant stationed in Tinke, is concerned that their little daughter may lose a finger on the jagged floor. After the leak further damaged the floor, a company technician pointed out in the maintenance log thatmonth- The old \"may get sick because of chewing debris\" falls off the floor. According to an internal company maintenance report, floor tiles and adhesives contain asbestos, a carcinogenic substance. The official maintenance log of Balfour Beatty available to the Air Force indicates that the company has resolved these issues quickly. For example, the record claims to show that the leak was fixed within 20 minutes. In fact, these logs are fake. The family said it would take more than a week to repair. Ippolitos endured other dangers for months. \"You think your family is safe, and then you find that your child is eating asbestos floors. \"It makes me sick,\" Nick Ippolito said . \". \"It looks like they\'re just for the dollar. Balfour Beatty, in the United StatesS. Reuters, through interviews with company records, Air Force reports and former workers, found that the military\'s largest housing supplier has been systematically forging its maintenance log for repairing air force bases for years. These false entries have made it appear that the company has responded to the tenant\'s complaints and unsafe conditions, helping it to get millions of dollars in \"performance incentive fees\" to get what it usually doesn\'t have The efforts hurt the family and persuaded the Air Force\'s top officials to ignore the troublesome warnings from military base employees. Reuters found that Balfour Beatty has kept two sets of maintenance books in Tinker for years, working with CBS News. A forged set of official electronic records was presented to the air force, setting out the time for rapid response. The company has also kept an accurate set of handwritten records to keep track of what really happened. These records have never been disclosed to the military, but have been reviewed by Reuters to a certain extent, indicating that it is usually a few weeks before the danger is remedied. From 2014 to July 2017, Balfour Beatty\'s manager at Tinker, Robert Whittington, told Reuters that he had revised his job -- Under the direction of his superior, order the information in the electronic maintenance log and pressure the employees to close the unfinished work order so that the late reply will not be detrimental to the company. Whitington said he knew it would be dangerous for families to fake records. He was a retired Air Force veteran who said he was disgusted with his actions and resigned after fighting conscience and refusing orders to change records further. \"It\'s like they run bank robberies at the corporate level,\" says Hui . \". \"When I woke up in the morning, I wanted to know, \'Well, how many people are I going to screw up today? \"Whittington\'s claim is supported by many internal memos to Balfour Beatty employees that instruct them how to engage in deception. Reuters recorded at least 65 requests for extension of maintenance by Balfour Beatty employees from 2016 and 2017, and submitted documents requesting false exemption responses -- Unfinished maintenance request. Some Air Force housing employees stationed in Tinke are also aware of these problems. Over the years, they told the Air Force that there was a problem with record keeping and slums. Like living conditions. However, they tried to hold Balfour Beatty accountable and were blocked by the Air Force Civil Engineering Center (AFCEC) based in San Antonio, Texas, which is responsible for monitoring private landlords. At least 18 times since 2015, Tinker- According to Air Force reports, Air Force housing officials warned that false information was contained in the Balfour Beatty maintenance log, making it appear that the company responded quickly to the service request. \"We do not believe that urgent, urgent and routine work orders are accurately recorded,\" said a regular report from Balfour Beatty . \". The Air Force Engineering Center played down those concerns in the first quarter and gave the company a high service score and advised Tinker officials to drop the complaint. A local housing officer at Tinker wrote in an email on February 2018: \"They will still be paid regardless of whether they are compliant or not . \". The failure to hold the landlord accountable is at the heart of the conflict within the Air Force. On one side- The main task of the Air Force resident housing office is to assist residents and carry out daily supervision of Balfour Beatty. AFCEC, on the other hand, is responsible for the development and management of all privatized housing projects in the air force. While the AFCEC also has a supervisory role, it is also responsible for ensuring long-term stability Establish a long-term relationship with the landlord it does business. AFCEC has supported its partner Balfour Beatty for years. Balfour Beatty, in submitting evidence of years of false reports, slow repairs and dangerous conditions at home discovered by Reuters, said the company was informed on 2016 that one of Tinker\'s employees was \"misbehaving \", no details are provided. The company said it was an isolated incident and said it was working with the Air Force to strengthen its maintenance system. The company did not comment on the false record Reuters recorded internal memos and other violations at Tinker and other bases around 2016. Balfour Beatty said it has fully cooperated with the Air Force and other government agencies in the investigation of its operations. \"As an organization, the BBC has not and does not condone forging records in any way,\" the company said in a statement . \". On December, Reuters reported on private companies in new housing units built in the United States, including Balfour Beatty, with widespread poor-quality buildings and safety hazards. S. bases. The Air Force said that since the report, it has been withholding payment at Tinker before reviewing the matter. In response to the new findings about the company, Air Force Assistant installation minister John Henderson said on the 3 th that he had \"a real problem\" with Balver Betty\'s performance in Tinker \". But he said he did not believe that housing companies deliberately changed maintenance records in order to win incentive fees. On June, after receiving further details from Reuters, he said he would wait for the results of the ongoing investigation to determine what had happened. \"There is a discrepancy in maintenance records,\" he said, involving \"fraud allegations\" from Tinker and at least two other company bases, which were referred to the Air Force Special Investigation Office and the FBI in 2017. \"We are confident that our private sector partners will act in good faith,\" Henderson said . \". \"When this does not happen, we must hold those responsible for achieving better results accountable to ensure that we continue to deserve the trust of the pilots and the country. Linda Card, head of public affairs at the agency, said: \"The Air Force Special Investigation Office does not discuss the investigation. But \"the dialogue with the United States is still going on,\" she added \". S. The Ministry of Justice \"on what route ( Criminal or civil) -If any-a chase can be made against Balfour Beatty. \"Regardless of the findings, the Air Force plans to increase transparency by creating automatic maintenance -- Henderson said the request process that allows residents to view the status of work orders. It also plans to reform the reward and fee system, and details are still being worked out. He defended the work of the Air Force Engineering Center, saying that the center took the charges against Balfour Beatty seriously and carried out Conduct an on-site review of the company\'s work at Tinker. News of a big contractor\'s accounting violation came as the United StatesS. Lawmakers are reforming the Pentagon\'s family housing program. Committee staff told Reuters that the 2020 defense spending bill proposed by the Senate Military Committee included measures to prevent fraudulent work orders, in part because of concerns that millions of fees were paid based on forged maintenance records. \"Our military families deserve it. Quality Housing runs through their entire service process, including the moral and fair treatment of housing providers, \"said committee chairman Jim Inhofer, a Republican in Homer. Since 1996, the military has launched the largest Acquisition of American companiesS. Federal housing, transferring ownership of more than 200,000 home units to private property developers and real estate managers under the age of 50year contracts. These lucrative contracts include bonuses or incentive fees that private landlords can earn by achieving performance goals set with the military. To collect fees, real estate companies must meet quarterly and annual targets, such as responding to maintenance requests from residents within the specified time. The fee is paid quarterly, usually equivalent to 2% of the total rental of the service family living in the base. Balfour Beatty community in Malvin, Pennsylvania operates the military housing unit of London Balfour Beatty plc An infrastructure company with an annual income of $10. 7 billion. Chris Williams, president of the Balfour Beatty community, told Congress in February that the company earned $33 million a year in the military housing business. Incentive costs for these businesses alone are worth about $0. 8 billion. According to Reuters, the company has 43,000 units in 55 air, naval and army bases across the country. Balfour Beatty took over Tinker\'s housing business in 2008. Reuters estimates that since then, the company has spent as much as $2 million on incentives there. Other Balfour Beatty bases also showed signs of abnormal reporting. An Air Force statement confirmed that on 2016, Air Force housing officials stationed at the Travis Air Force Base in California accused employees of using the second set of maintenance logs. Quarterly housing performance records at the base show that in 2017, housing officials found that the company had closed down before completing the repair request and misclassified the records. In the same year, housing officials at the Air Force Base in Washington said Balfour Beatty submitted inaccurate maintenance data when applying for a reward fee. The Air Force was unable to confirm the charges against Travis and fedora. But before the review, it stopped paying reward fees to Balfour Beatty at both bases at the end of last year and referred the incidents to Air Force investigators and the FBI. Nevertheless, an air force spokesman said the Air Force had never recovered the reward paid to Balver Betty. AFCEC also does not have a maintenance record for any other base managed by the audit company. In Tinker, Reuters found last year that half of the nearly 400 new homes built by Balfour Beatty suffered leaks, raw sewage backups, rotten wood and severe mold. Since the end of 2015, Balfour Beatty has flooded with requests for repairs to old and new homes. Hui, former manager, said the roof was leaking, plastic pipes burst, heating and air conditioning failed. However, internal work order data showed that in the same year, the company recorded only 23 delayed work orders in 6,000 jobs. At the beginning of 2016, management reduced maintenance personnel at the base from 6 to 5 as the London corporate headquarters demanded greater profits from their military housing program, said Huygens. This left about 132 houses for each worker, he said. Nevertheless, Balfour Beatty told the Air Force that it was responding quickly to the maintenance request. Air Force emails show that some of Tinker\'s air force housing staff believe that the number of recent responses is questionable, and the company\'s reward fees are ridiculously high. In 100% emails to colleagues, an Air Force housing employee noted that \"Interestingly, all properties are always 2016\" processed on time. Then, on July 2016, in a casual conversation, the staff of the patch room noticed a hand -- Written maintenance schedule on the Balfour Beatty work desk- Shop assistant Tina Brown Brown is responsible for receiving maintenance requests over the phone and arranging for technicians to resolve them. She told Reuters that since her first day, she has kept her hands informal. In addition to the official computerized records shared with the Air Force, there is a set of written maintenance logs. The hand- According to Brown and others familiar with the operation, written books allow Brown and other employees to complete both ends. They can track the work accurately so they can finish the work in the end, but doing so does not trigger a clock that starts ticking once a work order is entered in the official electronic system. According to Brown and Whittington, facility manager Tim Heath directed her to enter the work order in this way. Heath did not respond to calls and text messages seeking comment. Brown often logs into the official system on the day the request is completed, not the day they are called in. By doing so, the workers made sure that the response seemed to be met by Balfour Beatty -- Time target specified in the air force contract: start emergency request for 30 minutes, emergency request for 4 hours, regular affairs for 24 hours. Ruse also allows companies to achieve their job completion goals: 24 hours in an emergency, two working days for both emergency and regular projects. An example from 2016 shows set-up worked. A page in Brown\'s unofficial handwritten record includes a work request from a family whose stove broke in July 7, 2016. The official electronic maintenance log captured in the Brown workstation screenshot shows that the family\'s request was not entered until July 12, 2016-the day before the work was completed. If the request is recorded accurately, it will fail. After finding Brown\'s set of shadow books, Tinker Air Force housing officials interviewed residents in the summer of 2016 and confirmed that Balfour Beatty did not make a request when residents called them. \"These findings are very frustrating,\" an official wrote in an email to colleagues on July 2016 . \". Balfour Beatty later mentioned the charge in an application for payment of reward fees. It told the Air Force that it found \"differences in the Tinker data entry process\" and acted quickly to ensure that this did not happen again, based on the expense request submitted. Belfort Betty fired Brown about two weeks ago. According to witnesses, she shouted when she was escorted out of the office She was fired for keeping a set of fake books under the guidance of boss Heath. \"They threw me to the wolf,\" Brown said . \". She filed a wrong termination lawsuit against the company still pending. Balfour Beatty did not mention Brown\'s name in the statement, but said it was inappropriate for an employee to behave. The Balfour Beatty internal file shows that the company has issued extensive instructions to employees to revise the books. This is the information in the 2013 directive about the work order sent to Balfour Beatty employees by email. \"You will modify and \'correct\' these work orders so that they meet the response time of 30 minutes-1 hour, as well as the 24-hour completion target of the emergency work order, the memo said. Another 2016 internal memos shared via email instruct the clerk that if \"The workload is too heavy to arrange immediately, put the maintenance request in the red folder. Tinker has never had enough maintenance staff to take care of the base\'s 660 houses, says Hui. For a long time, company employees in Phoenix have urged him to close maintenance requests so that the company can get a reward fee, says Hui. \"The work order was actually closed when it was not completed,\" Whittington said . \". \"This is also part of the incentive bonus. Hui said he pressured employees to \"fabricate data \". In an email dated September 1, 2016, he directed two employees to close 119 resident maintenance requests within four hours. \"Our goal is to have all the unfinished work orders closed today! ” he wrote. Hui said he was directed by his regional manager, Rebecka Bailey, and vice president Raul Martinez. Bailey is no longer in the company. Both she and Martinez declined to comment. Over the years, there have been a series of hazards in the life of the family-raw sewage backup, pest infection and exposure to asbestos. Whittington and two other former employees said that in the vicinity of Tinker\'s McNarney estate, all floor materials contained asbestos except for a small number of 262 families. Balfour Beatty covers this material with floating floors or carpets for aesthetic purposes and seals asbestos tiles, a common and effective reduction strategy. However, according to the work order records of Balfour Beatty, most of the new floors are cheap and poorly installed. From 2012 to February 2019, McNarney residents received at least 350 requests to complain about the maintenance of the floor, including bending, warping, and according to a work order, \"there is something black on the floor. In the case of ippolitos, Balfour Beatty\'s maintenance records show that, as a log says, the company knew that the floor was \"bad\" and moved the family into the house, there is a risk of exposure to asbestos. Nick Ippolito said the company should hire an expert to safely remove or properly seal asbestos, who served as a residential construction supervisor for 12 years before joining the Navy. \"But I think it\'s too expensive for them,\" he said . \" The couple left the Navy in 2018. Balfour Beatty declined to discuss the case of a specific family. It says it doesn\'t know about the widespread floor problems at the mcnani family. Tina Brown was fired in the middle. Whittington said that 2016, the company\'s executives instructed Tinker\'s Balfour Beatty staff to stop retaining the second set of hands. Maintenance log written According to Reuters\'s analysis of Tinker work order data, the number of delayed work orders surged, from 8 in the first half of 2016 to 377 in the second half of the year. 12% of the company\'s maintenance calls are delayed, which will be too much to receive a full reward fee. However, the company did not report these figures to the Air Force. Instead, Balfour Beatty reported excellent data again in the incentive fee application of 2016, saying it completed maintenance calls of 96% to 98% on time. The company seeks 100% of the eligible incentive costs for the quarter, or $41,536. Housing officials of the Tinke air force said they did not believe it. \"We have received many complaints from residents of each category that the work order was not completed within the specified time,\" the repair room office wrote to another external contractor advising against incentives during the quarter Hui said they were right to suspect. After Brown was fired, he said that the regional manager, Bailey, directed him to ensure that the maintenance quantity met the reward fee target by means of a massage record. According to Wheaton and the document, the company began to take advantage of the technical advantages known as the \"work order exception policy\" to continue to win incentive fees. According to the Pentagon\'s housing contract, when the repair request cannot be completed on time due to the mitigation of the penalty, the landlord can make an \"exception\" so that the work order will not be detrimental to them. For example, special parts must be ordered, work at multiple stages of labor is required, or residents are required to repair after the prescribed response deadline. Whittington said he combed the delay maintenance request and edited the record to include exceptions to the response time policy. \"I agreed with shame,\" Whittington said . \". In the spring of the following year, on April 17, 2017, eight residents called to make a request for maintenance, and official records said that all eight residents requested that the work be completed later in April 20, according to the email exchange with the Office of the repaired House. Without these exceptions, all eight jobs will be late according to Balfour\'s incentive targets. Just last year, Balfour Beatty still relied on exceptions. Tinker had about 1,850 delayed work orders in 2018; Records show a decline of more than 1,100 with time policy exceptions. The company says it does use exceptions frequently in Tinker starting in 2016. Balfour Beatty said that in 2018, it and the Air Force implemented a new process for recording work orders, including the use of exceptions. The Air Force Civil Engineering Command (AFCEC) said it was working with Balfour Beatty to correct the \"challenge \". Melody Marsh, regional manager of AFCEC, defended the company. On May 2017, a resident invited a Tinkerbell housing official to her home to witness an ongoing leak. Marsh scolded the officer for entering the family without a Belfort Betty representative. \"This does not show the way to cooperate,\" she wrote . \". On August 2017, after Tinker\'s housing office provided AFCEC with evidence that Balfour Beatty claimed false exceptions, Tinker\'s staff urged cost cuts. The proposal was rejected by Marsh. \"AFCEC does not agree with your response confirming that the incentive for reward is reduced,\" Marsh wrote . \". Marsh did not respond to requests for comment. The warning continues. On December 2017, AFCEC agreed to cut a small percentage-3. Balfour Beatty accounted for 8% of the incentive costs for the second and third quarters of 2017. On last November, The Tinke housing office asked Marsh and the Air Force Engineering Center to investigate Balver Beatty, predicting terrible consequences if no action was taken. \"Due to the lack of ongoing maintenance, our property will not be able to withstand a 50-year life cycle,\" it wrote . \". Marsh refused. In his letter, he replied that the investigation was \"invalid and highly efficient \". Some repair families continue to fight the landlord. In May, neighbors gathered on Mundell Street to discuss the struggles with Reuters reporters. Derek rolls, Navy flight engineer, said he and his wife Jennifer had been asking Balver Betty to stop the rain from entering their homes for years. On April, Balfour Beatty completed Rouses\'s work order on time, claiming to have fixed the couple\'s back door by installing a new weather Peel. The reporter checked the door. New weather stripping has not been installed yet. \"I finished the flight at four in the morning. m. At six o\'clock A. M. I got a call from my wife saying the house was leaking again, \"said Derek. \"I put my life in danger and I shouldn\'t have dealt with it.