Air Force faces criticism over hotel construction project

The Air Force last week was accused of irresponsible management and lax oversight of construction of a 350-room hotel and massive retail mall at a military base in Germany during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The Government Accountability Office and committee members criticized the Air Force for its handling of the unfinished construction of the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center on the grounds of Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

An Air Force audit dated June 22 reported that the Air Force sought authorization in the fiscal 2005 military construction budget for $131.1 million for the project, to be added to $15.8 million to come from the German government.

As of January 2006, the project authorization was increased to $164.3 million in addition to the German funds, the audit said.

GAO's Gregory Kutz testified that the project was initially slated to cost $150 million and be finished in late 2005, but the cost has mounted to about $200 million and fraud investigations are now under way.

Under heated questioning, Air Force Brigadier Gen. Danny Gardner, who oversees installations and mission support in Europe, sought to shift blame to a German contractor for what he admitted has been "poor project execution."

Gardner disputed Kutz's and the GAO's testimony that the project had run so far over budget that it is impossible to make a reliable estimate of its eventual cost.

Gardner insisted the final project cost is now estimated at $174 million -- below the $200 million budgeted. Kutz told the panel that an assessment of the final cost was difficult because there is no scheduled completion date and there have been more than 500 changes in the project, mostly due to poor design and insufficient design review.

Gardner blamed an agreement between the U.S. and German governments that any contracting work in Germany must be done by German contractors, not U.S. ones.

Gardner added that the Air Force oversight team was understaffed and that he did not realize the project was running behind until just before it was to open in December 2005.

Asked by several committee members if anyone in the Air Force has been fired or disciplined or if the Air Force takes any responsibility, Gardner said some Germans were fired but no U.S. official lost his job.

Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Tom Davis, R-Va., called the project "a disaster in the form of inadequate and unfocused high-level leadership, poor planning, poorly designed requirements, and an inadequate number of trained personnel overseeing the project."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.