B-153721, JUL. 13, 1964

B-153721: Jul 13, 1964

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TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: WE HAVE RECEIVED A LETTER DATED MAY 26. SHERIDAN DISPUTES OUR FINDING THAT ABOUT $2.7 MILLION WILL BE REQUIRED TO RESTORE THE AIRFIELD PAVEMENTS AT SELFRIDGE TO OPERATING CONDITION BECAUSE DELETERIOUS MATERIALS WERE USED IN THE ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION WHICH THE AIR FORCE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN WOULD PROVE TO BE UNSUITABLE. 000 OF COSTS HAVE BEEN INCURRED SO FAR IN REPAIRING THE PAVEMENTS AND THAT AN ADDITIONAL $250. 000 WILL BE SPENT FOR MAINTENANCE OF THE PAVEMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 1965. SHERIDAN'S LETTER DID NOT ELABORATE ON THE TYPE OF MAINTENANCE WHICH IS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED FOR $250. CONSIDERING THE MUCH GREATER COST INCURRED IN OVERLAYING THE SMALLER MAIN RUNWAY AREA THAN THE AMOUNT WHICH THE AIR FORCE IS PROPOSING TO SPEND FOR MAINTENANCE.

B-153721, JUL. 13, 1964

TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

WE HAVE RECEIVED A LETTER DATED MAY 26, 1964 FROM MR. EDWARD J. SHERIDAN, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (PROPERTIES AND INSTALLATIONS) IN RESPONSE TO OUR REPORT TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE FOR SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, ON THE USE OF UNSUITABLE MATERIALS TO CONSTRUCT AIRFIELD PAVEMENTS AT SELFRIDGE AIR FORCE BASE, MOUNT CLEMENS, MICHIGAN.

MR. SHERIDAN DISPUTES OUR FINDING THAT ABOUT $2.7 MILLION WILL BE REQUIRED TO RESTORE THE AIRFIELD PAVEMENTS AT SELFRIDGE TO OPERATING CONDITION BECAUSE DELETERIOUS MATERIALS WERE USED IN THE ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION WHICH THE AIR FORCE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN WOULD PROVE TO BE UNSUITABLE.

MR. SHERIDAN POINTS OUT THAT ONLY $700,000 OF COSTS HAVE BEEN INCURRED SO FAR IN REPAIRING THE PAVEMENTS AND THAT AN ADDITIONAL $250,000 WILL BE SPENT FOR MAINTENANCE OF THE PAVEMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 1965.

THE $700,000 PRIMARILY COVERED THE OVERLAY TO CORRECT THE POPOUT PROBLEM ON THE MAIN RUNWAY. AT THE TIME OF OUR REVIEW ESTIMATES PREPARED BY THE BASE CIVIL ENGINEER SHOWED THAT IT WOULD COST ABOUT $2 MILLION TO SIMILARLY OVERLAY THE OPERATIONAL APRON AND TAXIWAYS WHICH DEVELOPED SIMILAR POPOUT PROBLEMS. MR. SHERIDAN'S LETTER DID NOT ELABORATE ON THE TYPE OF MAINTENANCE WHICH IS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED FOR $250,000. HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF THE GREAT DISPARITY BETWEEN THIS AMOUNT AND THE CIVIL ENGINEER'S $2 MILLION COST ESTIMATE TO OVERLAY THE APRON AND TAXIWAYS,AND CONSIDERING THE MUCH GREATER COST INCURRED IN OVERLAYING THE SMALLER MAIN RUNWAY AREA THAN THE AMOUNT WHICH THE AIR FORCE IS PROPOSING TO SPEND FOR MAINTENANCE, IT APPEARS THAT EITHER A LARGE PORTION OF THE APRON AND TAXIWAYS WILL REMAIN UNREPAIRED OR THAT THE WORK TO BE ACCOMPLISHED WILL BE OF LESSER SCOPE AND PERMANENCY THAN AN OVERLAY. WHETHER OR NOT THE AIR FORCE EXPENDS THE ENTIRE AMOUNT WHICH WOULD BE REQUIRED TO REMEDY THE DEFECTS, IT SEEMS EVIDENT THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S INTEREST HAS SUFFERED SUBSTANTIALLY IN THE FORM OF UNNECESSARY COST AND INFERIOR CONSTRUCTION DUE TO INADEQUATE CONTROL OVER THE AGGREGATE USED.

MR. SHERIDAN ALSO STATED IN HIS LETTER THAT THE AIR FORCE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN EXPECTED TO KNOW THAT THE SPECIFICATIONS WERE UNSUITABLE BECAUSE FOREIGN OBJECT DAMAGE TO ENGINES CAUSED BY POPOUTS WAS ASSOCIATED WITH NEW HIGH PERFORMANCE AIRCRAFT AND HAD NOT BEEN A PROBLEM WITH RESPECT TO OLDER AIRCRAFT.

OUR REPORT DISCLOSED THE EXISTENCE OF POPOUT PROBLEMS AT SEVERAL AIR INSTALLATIONS UP TO THREE YEARS BEFORE THE SELFRIDGE AIRFIELD PAVEMENTS WERE CONSTRUCTED AND THAT THE POPOUTS WERE KNOWN TO BE RELATED TO THE TYPE OF AGGREGATE SPECIFIED FOR THE PAVEMENT CONSTRUCTION. IF THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE PROBLEM WAS NOT RECOGNIZED AT AIR FORCE HIGHER HEADQUARTERS IT WAS DUE TO THE FAILURE OF INSTALLATIONS EXPERIENCING POPOUT PROBLEMS TO ADVISE THEIR HEADQUARTERS OF SUCH PROBLEMS. AS STATED IN OUR REPORT IT WAS THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS WHICH FIRST BROUGHT THE MATTER TO THE ATTENTION OF THE AIR FORCE DIRECTORATE OF CIVIL ENGINEERING, AND THAT WAS NOT UNTIL 1959.

THE FACT THAT MORE RESTRICTIVE SPECIFICATIONS WERE RECENTLY PRESCRIBED ESTABLISHING LOWER LIMITS FOR DELETERIOUS MATERIALS IN CONCRETE AGGREGATE IS EVIDENCE THAT OUR FINDINGS WERE DEEMED TO MERIT CORRECTIVE ACTION. YET THE DEPUTY SECRETARY'S REPLY TO OUR REPORT PLACES UNDUE EMPHASIS ON ATTEMPTING TO REFUTE OUR FINDINGS AND DEFENDING THE ACTIONS OF THE RESPONSIBLE AIR FORCE OFFICIALS. WE FEEL THAT A MORE CONSTRUCTIVE APPROACH, WITH MORE EFFORT DIRECTED TO ATTEMPTING TO PINPOINT THE CAUSES OF THE WRITING AND APPROVAL OF INADEQUATE SPECIFICATIONS WHICH LED TO THE EXTENSIVE REPAIR PROGRAM, AND TO DEVELOPING MEANS FOR PREVENTING RECURRENCES OF SUCH WASTES OF GOVERNMENT FUNDS, IS NEEDED. SUCH AN APPROACH, WE BELIEVE, WOULD HELP CONVINCE AIR FORCE OFFICIALS OF THE ACCURACY AND SERIOUSNESS OF OUR FINDINGS AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO SEARCH FOR PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEMS DISCLOSED. MOREOVER, UNLESS TOP OFFICIALS ARE SO CONVINCED AND MOTIVATED, THEY ARE NOT LIKELY TO FURNISH THE TYPE OF LEADERSHIP TO THEIR SUBORDINATES WHICH IS NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE THE GOALS OF ECONOMY IN PROCUREMENT WHICH HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED BY YOUR OFFICE.

WE ARE SURE YOU WILL AGREE THAT A FORTHRIGHT RECOGNITION OF NEEDED IMPROVEMENTS AND APPROPRIATE CORRECTIVE ACTION IS OF BASIC IMPORTANCE IN THE PROPER CONDUCT OF THE GOVERNMENT'S AFFAIRS.