Probe Finds Inmates Made Defective Military Helmets

     (CN) — Defective combat helmets made by Texas prisoners put U.S. soldiers at risk of serious injury or death while costing the military more than $19 million, a Justice Department investigation released Wednesday found.
     The U.S. Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General found “endemic manufacturing problems” at the government-operated company that produced the helmets, from “unauthorized manufacturing practices” to “serious ballistic failures.”
     The scathing report blames ArmorSource LLC and its subcontractor, Federal Prison Industries, for the numerous helmet defects, which led to the recall of 126,052 faulty advanced combat helmets, or ACH, and lightweight Marine Corps helmets.
     “Helmets also had other defects such as deformities and the investigations found that rejected helmets were also sold to the [Defense Department],” the report states.
     The investigation found that inmates at the now-shuttered Beaumont prison were “openly using improvised tools on the ACH helmets, damaging the helmets’ ballistic material, creating the potential for the tools’ use as weapons in the prison and, thereby, endangering the safety of factory staff and degrading prison security.”
     “Additionally, ArmorSource did not provide adequate oversight of the manufacture of the ACH which resulted in helmets that were not manufactured according to the contract specifications,” the nine-page report states.
     ArmorSource, a private Ohio-based company, agreed to pay a $3 million False Claims Act settlement to resolve the allegations. It declined to comment.
     No criminal charges resulted from the investigation.
     “The U.S. government relies on contractors to manufacture equipment that is critical to the safety of our men and women in uniform, and equipment that fails to meet performance standards not only cheats taxpayers, but can put lives at risk,” said Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in a statement.
     The Defense Criminal Investigative Service coordinated with the Office of Inspector General in the joint investigation.

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