#AceNewsReport – Nov.20: At the time, Balfour Beatty Communities said it strove to correctly report its maintenance work. It blamed any problems on a sole former employee at the Oklahoma base: Now, Reuters has found that Balfour Beatty employees systematically doctored records in a similar scheme at a Texas base: In June, Reuters, working in partnership with CBS News, documented how Balfour Beatty Communities kept two sets of records at Oklahoma’s Tinker Air Force Base. The accurate records, not shared with the military but seen in part by Reuters, showed tardiness in making repairs at homes plagued by asbestos, leaks and mould: The other set – filed with the Air Force – was altered to show near-perfect performance in making repairs, helping the company earn millions in fees for a job well done.
MILITARY GATEWAY: The Lackland Air Force base in Texas, where Balfour Beatty Communities operates housing. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare
Balfour Beatty has been pursuing a similar practice at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas: With bosses pressing them to meet repair goals, two former Balfour Beatty employees said they were involved in forging records to make it appear their employer completed maintenance work on time at the Texas base, even as work lagged or was never finished.
Stacy Nelson, Balfour’s Lackland manager from 2013 to 2016 said: She felt pressure to manipulate records to make it appear the company consistently hit maintenance goals. She said she went along with the effort because, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she needed to keep her job and benefits.
“You either make these numbers match so we can get the incentive fees, or you may not have a job tomorrow,” Nelson said, characterizing the pressure she felt she was under. “We fudged the numbers, and even now it’s not easy to say that. I hate to admit it.”
Another former worker, Teresa Anderson, who created maintenance records, said she doctored the completion dates and times. Balfour Beatty fired both employees, though for reasons unrelated to falsifying records:
Internal company emails and maintenance reports confirm their accounts of being pressured to hit goals. In one case in 2015, reports showed the company completed 69% of repairs on time. After a Balfour Beatty manager called for higher scores, the pair changed the rate to above 95%, records show, triggering the bonus.
Lackland and Tinker aren’t the only bases where Balfour Beatty faces accusations of falsifying its maintenance reports. In Montana, a former manager said her staff regularly doctored records at Malmstrom Air Force Base: In all, five former Balfour Beatty employees, working at three different bases, have told Reuters they filed false maintenance reports to help the company pocket millions in bonuses.
In a statement, Balfour Beatty said: Its is working to improve the quality of service at all its bases. “We know we have to continue to demonstrate progress in order to rebuild confidence in our service, and we are determined to do so,” the statement said.
The company did not directly respond to specific questions about the falsification of maintenance and work-order records documented by Reuters in Texas and elsewhere.
Since the initial Reuters-CBS report from Oklahoma, Balfour Beatty says it has started an investigation into the fraud allegations, led by its outside counsel Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP: It has also sought an independent audit of the incentive fees approved by the Air Force. Auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers and law firm Hunton Andrews declined comment.
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