VA inspectors confirm problems with construction at Jefferson Ba -

VA inspectors confirm problems with construction at Jefferson Barracks following News 4 Investigation

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Whistleblowers say shoddy construction at a VA facility at Jefferson Barracks puts veterans in danger and wastes taxpayer money. Credit: KMOV Whistleblowers say shoddy construction at a VA facility at Jefferson Barracks puts veterans in danger and wastes taxpayer money. Credit: KMOV

A US government report says investigators have found huge problems with the construction of new medical facilities at Jefferson Barracks.

All this after an explosive News 4 investigative story from May. Whistleblowers say nothing would have been done without Lauren Trager's report.

"It keeps me up at night. I haven't had a good night's sleep for the last nine months,” said one whistleblower to News 4 back in May.

“It's absurd. It's your tax dollars hard at work,” said another.

News 4 spoke exclusively with two people who did work on the $100 million dollar project at Jefferson Barracks.

One of them is a whistleblower who works for the VA.

News 4 disguised them for their protection.

Together, they talked about:

  • Huge cracks in the concrete floors that they say were 40-50 feet long
  • Rusted out wall frames and doors
  • Water infiltrating areas with live wires
  • A waterfall cascading out of already insulated duct work

After the story aired, the contractors Walsh and Alberici sent a letter to the VA disputing some of the claims or saying that issues were already getting fixed.

Senator Claire McCaskill asked for an investigation by the VA Inspector General.

And now, News 4 obtained their completed report.

It says investigators looked at nine specific allegations about construction problems and they verified and authenticated every one of them.

For example, investigators found that:

  • Two full-time personnel with local contractors Walsh and Alberici who were listed as part of the project - were not there.
  •  A quality control manager signed documents stating that he reviewed contract materials - even though he was out of the country on vacation at the time.
  • A retaining wall along one of the roads built by the contracts presents a safety risk for hundreds of school children nearby....because incomplete testing provided no assurance of the wall's stability.

News 4 spoke with Senator McCaskill by phone between meetings on Capitol Hill.

"What is surprising is the lack of management controls that the VA had over this construction project." said McCaskill. 

She's is now demanding that the contractors pay for fixes that need to be made to correct any problems.

And she says future payments to Walsh and Alberici should be held-up until any lost taxpayer money is paid back.

"This is another example of exactly why we need to encourage and protect whistleblowers, who are often our first and last line of defense when it comes to exposing problems," she said.   

 Whistleblowers have told News 4 that they're glad something is finally getting done to ensure everyone's safety.

A spokesperson for the contractors says they will continue to cooperate with the investigation and will fulfill their contract obligations. They say they value the VA as their customer and believe the in the VA's mission.

The VA will be doing more testing at the site now and say they are also working to address additional questions and concerns.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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