Report | June 16, 2020

Audit of the Department of Defense’s Processes to Identify and Clear Munitions and Explosives of Concern During Construction on Guam (DODIG-2020-093)

Audit

Publicly Released: June 18, 2020

Objective

The objective of this audit was to determine whether DoD personnel implemented safety standards and quality assurance controls for addressing munitions and explosives of concern during military construction projects on Guam, and whether DoD personnel properly managed safety concerns and readiness related to munitions and explosives of concern on Guam in accordance with military standards and risk-management instructions.

 

Background

We reviewed the overall munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) clearance process for military construction (MILCON) projects at Joint Region Marianas (JRM), the joint U.S. military command on Guam. MEC is unexploded ordnance, discarded military munitions, and munitions constituents present in concentrations high enough to pose an explosive hazard.

The Battle of Guam during World War II resulted in an estimated 11,000 items of MEC because of air, sea, and land bombardments. DoD Directive 6055.09E, “Explosives Safety Management,” requires DoD Components to implement and maintain an effective explosives safety management program. The DoD protects people and property from the effects of military munitions (including MEC), to execute the mission safely and effectively by exposing the minimum number of people required. Furthermore, the Directive provides explosives safety management principles and requirements that provide for immediate protection of people and property while ensuring that DoD Components are complying with applicable environmental regulations.

 

Findings

DoD personnel did not properly plan and manage the MEC program at the JRM. Specifically, DoD personnel did not consistently implement safety standards and quality assurance (QA) controls during MILCON projects because:

• DoD personnel did not always agree on how to interpret the scope and applicability of explosives safety standards when performing MEC clearance procedures for MILCON projects;

• JRM and Navy Facilities and Engineering Command (NAVFAC) officials did not provide appropriate resources or alternate funding sources for MEC clearance and monitoring of MILCON projects to ensure that contractors followed the proper standards; and

• Navy policies did not provide JRM officials the flexibility to manage risks related to MEC clearance by obtaining deviations from explosives safety standards in a timely manner; nor did the policies provide a way to propose alternative methods for MEC clearance that could potentially reduce safety risks to contractors.

In addition, DoD personnel did not establish adequate plans and processes for managing MEC clearance requirements and safety concerns for MILCON projects on Guam. Specifically,

• DoD personnel did not develop accurate budgets and schedules for MILCON projects that required MEC clearance. This occurred because personnel inconsistently identified MEC clearance costs in DD Forms 1391, “FY____ Military Construction Data”; had difficulty calculating MEC clearance costs when more stringent enforcement was made to the implementation of MEC clearance methods than what was previously completed; and did not schedule sufficient time in projects to conduct clearance efforts.

• NAVFAC contracting officers did not clearly define MEC clearance specifications in MILCON contracts or assess the past performance of construction contractors as part of the evaluation and source-selection process for MILCON projects. This occurred because contracting officials did not leverage the expertise of each office involved in MEC clearance activities during the source-selection process to fully understand the requirements, and officials did not conduct an assessment of the MEC clearance methods and evaluations of previous MEC clearance activities by both the contractor and the subcontractor.

• NAVFAC personnel did not effectively administer the MEC portion of MILCON contracts related to QA and compliance with contract terms and conditions. This occurred because NAVFAC construction management engineers did not ensure that contractors followed JRM instructions to immediately notify emergency responders when MEC was located on sites. Additionally, NAVFAC personnel’s efforts to address MEC in MILCON contracts were uncoordinated, conflicting, and in some cases outside the duties, responsibilities, or authorities of the various NAVFAC personnel.

From FYs 2015 through 2017, DoD personnel did not adequately plan for and implement MEC standards; therefore, JRM personnel incurred cost increases of about $100 million directly related to MEC clearance for MILCON projects. DoD officials responsible for executing MILCON projects also continued to have difficulty completing projects within the planned costs and schedules because of the need to address MEC.

In addition, because of the delays in completing critical MILCON projects, DoD officials are unable to conduct joint exercises in the region, decreasing readiness and negatively impacting DoD operations. Furthermore, because of inadequate staffing and resources, MEC QA personnel were unable to conduct adequate QA over MEC clearance activities, resulting in safety concerns for DoD personnel, contractors, and civilians on Guam.

 

Recommendations

Among other recommendations, we recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment issue guidance for estimating and presenting MEC clearance costs in DD Form 1391 that will enable personnel to assess the accuracy of the MEC budget and enable DoD leaders to refine future MILCON projects. We also recommend that the Chief of Naval Operations conduct analysis to determine if a more efficient process exists to approve deviation requests from installation commanders in a timely manner to reduce further schedule delays and associated cost increases for MILCON projects.

In addition, we recommend that the NAVFAC Commander perform a review of staffing levels and equipment required to perform adequate contract oversight at NAVFAC Marianas and identify potential solutions to address vacant positions; and conduct an analysis to examine potential funding sources to determine if a more accurate and equitable method is available for MEC clearance QA.

 

Management Comments and Our Response

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Infrastructure, responding for the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, agreed with the recommendations; therefore, the recommendations to that office are resolved but will remain open. We will close these recommendations when the Deputy Assistant Secretary provides documentation of the policy or guidance to address these recommendations.

The Logistics - Supply Chain Operations Director, responding for the Chief of Naval Operations, agreed with the recommendation to assess the deviation request approval process; therefore, the recommendation is resolved but will remain open. We will close this recommendation when we confirm that the assessment is completed.

The NAVFAC Inspector General, responding for the NAVFAC Commander, NAVFAC Pacific Commander, and NAVFAC Marianas Commander agreed with 10 recommendations. Comments from the NAVFAC Inspector General:

• addressed the specifics for two recommendations related to reporting MEC encounters to appropriate authorities in a timely manner and distributing after-action reports. The associated actions addressed the recommendations; therefore, the recommendations are closed.

• addressed the specifics for six recommendations related to identifying staffing requirements, equipment necessary for quality assurance personnel, and alternate funding sources for performing MEC clearance; providing MEC training; assessing contractor capabilities before contract award; and reviewing past practices of contractor oversight personnel. Therefore, the recommendations are resolved, but will remain open until NAVFAC provides documentation that the proposed actions are completed.

• did not address the specifics for two recommendations related to obtaining after action reports on existing contracts and evaluating contractorrequested alternative methods for MEC clearance therefore, the recommendations remain unresolved.

We request the NAVFAC Inspector General provide additional comments on the final report related to the two unresolved recommendations.

The JRM Commander agreed with one recommendation regarding the use of privately owned vehicles; the comments and associated actions addressed the recommendation and we consider the recommendation closed. The JRM Commander agreed with five other recommendations related to developing a plan to ensure a tool to track MEC encounters is adequately resourced, implementing previously identified corrective actions, consistently processing deviation requests, construction planning, and developing policy to establish roles of the stakeholders in the MEC clearance process; however, the proposed actions do not meet the intent of the recommendations; therefore, the recommendations are unresolved and will remain open. We request the JRM Commander provide additional comments on the final report related to these five recommendations.

 

This report is the result of Proj. No. D2019-D000AV-0047.000.