US Embassy Tajikistan: $318,913 to Build Rec Center, $1.5M to Demolish, Redesign, Reconstruct Botched Rec Center

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) Semiannual Report to the Congress for the Department of State (Department) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) recently went online. This most recent report covers the period ending March 31, 2011.

US Embassy Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Photo from US Embassy/Facebook

The report includes a summary of inspections, audits, and investigations conducted by the OIG including the following botched rec center at the US Embassy in Dushanbe:

Limited-Scope Review of the Design and Construction of a Recreation Center at Embassy Dushanbe, Tajikistan (MERO-I-11-04)

In December 2006, Embassy Dushanbe and RPSO awarded a contract, valued at $318,913 for construction of a post-managed recreation center, to a local contractor, PIR-5 LTD (PIR-5). OBO approved the initial design and issued a building permit in October 2007. In July 2008, RPSO issued a notice to proceed, and construction began in the fall of 2008. In May 2009, PIR-5 ceased site activities and walked off the job when RPSO withheld payments. The contract was formally terminated on July 15, 2009. The swimming pool facilities must be demolished, redesigned, and reconstructed at an estimated cost of $1.5 million—five times the original cost.

OIG found a number of deficiencies in the design and construction of the recreation center, including RPSO’s and the embassy’s failure to assess the reasonableness of the proposed price. PIR-5 did not design and construct the Dushanbe recreation center according to required building codes and guidelines. Required designs were not submitted by PIR-5, nor were design issues resolved prior to starting construction. RPSO failed to limit U.S. Government risk because the contractor was not required to purchase payment bonds and insurance. CORs did not properly monitor the contractor’s performance or progress, failed to establish quality assurance measures, and did not ensure the contractor submitted required documents. Invoices were approved and paid although the work was unacceptable. COR turnover and a short­age in management staff led to a lack of continuity in contract management.

OIG recommended that an employee with construction engineering experience chair the managed project technical evaluation team and that the contracting officer obtain an OBO audit before awarding a contract varying more than 20 percent from the Independent Government Cost Estimate. OIG also recommended that OBO fully review and approve designs, management plans, and quality assurance plans before beginning construction; review construction progress and identify risks; and establish COR guidance.