Contracts show MWR funds used for Weisbaden renovations

European Stars and Stripes, Darmstadt, Germany

 

WIESBADEN AB, Germany – Army officials con­tracted to spend $112,261 of troop morak money for building renovations on Wiesbaden AB,. contracts show.

Army regulations and federal laws prohibit the use of morale, welfare and recreation money to pay for most construction projects. Such money is formally known as non-appropriated funds.

In June, the construction company Bommhardt and Klee of Karlstadt, Germany, was paid $9,027 from the Wiesbaden community morale, welfare and recreation fund for the renovation of offices. The company also is nearing com{>letion of a $103,234 project that, accord­ing to the original contract signed April 1, will be paid with morale money. Both projects are on Wiesbaden AB, an Army installation.

Sources in Wiesbaden said community officials real­ized after the projects began that Army regulations and federal laws prohibit the use of morale money for most construction. The officials ·reached this conclusion, the sources said, after investigations began in June in Frankfurt into military officials’ use of more than $500,000 of morale money for renovation projects and other purchases.

Wiesbaden community officials refused to answer questions concerning the issue.

The sources also said that because of the Frankfurt investigation, community officials considered paying for the second project with appropriated funds, but found that the community does not have the money.

Wiesbaden is a sub-community of Frankfurt. where investigators and auditors from at least three agencies, including the Department of Army, continue to look into the use of morale dollars.

During the fall of 1991 and the spring of this year, Frankfurt officials renovated a civilian personnel office, bought computer equipment and office furniture and purchased shortwave radio stations with morale money.

Community morale money is generated by military facilities such as exchanges, craft centers and recrea­tion centers. A portion of the money is used to support those facilities and the rest must be used to make “morale, welfare and recreation improvements,” ac­cording td Army regulations.

Most construction projects arc to be paid for with appropriated funds, according to the regulations. These appropriated funds are tax dollars allocated to the De­fense Department by Congress each year. Spending of appropriated funds must conform to congressional budget plans.

Bommhardt and Klee was Hired in February to reno­vate two buildings on the base under a plan intended to create a new child care facility, said Rod Carnes, a base contract officer.

“The community wanted to put the child care center in the building where the German works council was,”Carnes said. “But first they had to find a place to move the works council.”

That place was the second floor· of building 1041. which community officials agreed to renovate because works council members were unhappy with the condi­tion of the offices there, a works coimcil member said.

Bommhardt and Klee completed that renovation in May, and the works council moved there from its pre­vious location in building 1215. The contractor then began renovating the former works council offices, Car­nes said.

Contract documents show that both projects were approved by Steven Steinburg, Wiesbaden’s director of personnel and community activities. Steinburg would not answer questions about the projects, saying he had been instructed to refer all such questions to the Frankfurt public affairs office.

Thnt office has repeatedly refused to answer ques­tions concerning the possible misuse of non-appropri­ated funds.

Contract documents show that the renovations to building 1215 will cost $103,234. Last week, Bom­mhardt and Klee submitted – and Carnes approved – a request for a partial payment of $68,737.

According to Carnes, Steinburg wanted to convert the funding for the project to appropriated funds. How­ever, a Wiesbaden accounting source said the commu­nity docs not have enough appropriated money to pay the bill.