IG’s report cites lapses in testing of body armor
April 4, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is not consistently following procedures for testing body armor, according to the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office.
In a recent report, the inspector general’s office looked at 28 body armor contracts awarded between January 2004 and December 2006.
The report found that several of the contracts did not have information on “First Article Testing,” which is conducted after a contract is awarded to see if the product meets contract specifications.
“As a result, DOD has no assurance that first articles produced under 13 of the 28 contracts and orders reviewed met the required standards,” the report said.
The Army said it can waive testing for products “identical or similar” to those that have already been accepted by the government, but the Inspector General’s office could not find documentation for such waivers in several of the contracts’ files, the report said.
The Army referred a question on why the documentation was missing to Program Executive Office Soldier, which referred the question back to the Army.
“The fact that the Defense Department Inspector General was not completely able to verify testing and approval of first-article testing or aspects of contracting files does not mean the body armor did not meet specifications,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Downie said.
Body armor must go through two types of testing to verify that it meets Army standards before being issued to soldiers, Downie said Wednesday.
“The current body armor is doing what it is designed to do: stop or slow bullets and fragments, and reduce the severity of wounds,” Downie said. “Prevention of injuries to our men and women is a top priority for the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense.”
The inspector general’s office also found that Army officials “accepted preliminary design models as contractually compliant before contract award and production,” the report said.
Downie said the Army is complying with the regulation that requires initial testing. The issue is when the testing takes place.
“We are saying that we tested before the providers went into full production, which is in accordance with the regulation,” Downie said.