SAN ANTONIO – The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is looking into a private housing company after a Reuters report found that employees falsified maintenance records to receive bonuses, military officials told KSAT Tuesday.
Ex-employees of Balfour Beatty Communities, a company based in the United Kingdom that has contracts with military bases across the country to provide housing to service members and their families, admitted to Reuters and CBS News that they were pressured into manipulating the records.
The company released a statement about the incident Wednesday. A spokesperson said an independent audit is underway and that they instructed Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, outside counsel, to look into the allegations.
“In addition to the audit work we are undertaking in connection with our Air Force bases, we are conducting a comprehensive review of work order practices at our Army and Navy bases,” the spokesperson said. "In all these matters, we are working directly with our military partners and the relevant government agencies.”
On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force John Henderson said in a statement he was “concerned” to learn of the report. He added that the allegations were referred to the military branch’s investigation office. Henderson said he was “concerned” to learn of the report.
“As noted in our letter to (Balfour Beatty Communities) in September, unless we see prompt and substantial improvement in (Balfour Beatty Communities’) performance, we intend to initiate formal action under the dispute provisions of the project documents where serious performance failures have not been resolved,” Henderson said in a statement.
The Air Force is pursuing “51 separate actions” intended to improve oversight on private housing and standardize the policy, Henderson said.
“Safe and healthy living environments for all service members and their families on JBSA is my top priority, and I take my responsibility to take care of people seriously,” said Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman, 502d Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio Commander adding that the report was “troubling.”
Stacy Nelson, the Balfour Beatty Communities manager for Lackland from 2013 to 2016, said “she felt pressure to manipulate records to make it appear the company consistently hit maintenance goals."
“You either make these numbers match so we can get the incentive fees, or you may not have a job tomorrow,” Nelson told Reuters. “We fudged the numbers, and even now it’s not easy to say that. I hate to admit it.”
The news drew the attention San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro, who asked the House and Senate armed services committees to investigate the “pyramid scheme” on Monday.
“Forging maintenance records in order to take home millions in bonuses is the definition of immoral,” Castro said in the statement. “No family should have to live with the threat of asbestos, mold, or worry whether their home is secure if disaster strikes.”
The exposé was published months after photos of mold in Lackland dorms went viral. Balfour Beatty officials told KSAT Wednesday that the dorms are entirely managed by the Air Force.
Before photos of the mold at Lackland dorms went viral this summer, officials had said they were not aware of how prevalent the mold was.