SEOUL — The U.S. military has extended its contract with a South Korean security company to guard Army bases for a fifth year, despite security lapses in the past year that included guards sleeping on duty and allowing a drunk driver without base access to enter a high-security compound.

The 411th Contracting Support Brigade renewed the $22.5 million contract with Joeun Systems Corp. on August 1 — three days after a Joeun Systems Corp. guard at Yongsan Garrison in downtown Seoul accidentally fired a gun.

Officials said the security lapses reflect problems with individual guards, not with the company as a whole.

“We believe that the level of service has satisfied our needs,” said Paul Stuart, Installation Management Command-Korea Operations Division chief.

Joeun was awarded the one-year contract in 2006, with the option to extend for the next four years. The current contract expires July 31, 2011.

About 835 guards monitor 220 access control points at Army installations and the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Mujuk, checking identification cards and controlling the entry of people and vehicles 24 hours a day.

A Joeun spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment Friday. Details about the July 27 gun discharge at Yongsan were also not immediately available, though IMCOM-K officials said nobody was injured in the incident and the guard involved was fired.

IMCOM-K spokesman Slade Walters said one factor in deciding to renew Joeun’s contract was the cost savings due to a favorable won-dollar exchange rate. The contracting brigade renewed the contract following a June 14 recommendation from then-IMCOM-K commander Brig. Gen. John Uberti.

Last year’s contract was worth about $25 million, according to IMCOM-K.

According to Joeun’s contract, the military can reduce the company’s compensation if it fails to fulfill obligations and can require steps be taken to prevent future lapses. The military can end the contract if further lapses occur or if Joeun fails to adequately address problems.

As of March 9, Joeun had forfeited $40,498.24 in earnings for not meeting contract standards, according to Walters.

One of the more serious security lapses occurred Aug. 20, 2009, when a drunken driver drove past two checkpoints and entered Command Post Tango without stopping for mandatory identification card checks. A guard at the second checkpoint failed to raise a barrier meant to stop unauthorized vehicles from entering the high-security facility.

The incident occurred during a major readiness exercise. Stuart said one guard was fired and three others were disciplined or demoted.

Joeun has been cited for 16 security violations since December 1, 2009, including the Yongsan guard who discharged his gun, Stuart said.

Guards are monitored through surprise checks, and each security lapse is investigated, Stuart said last week.

He said in a previous interview that occasional problems with guards could be expected due to the scope of Joeun’s work.

“To think that there are not going to be some human failures is unreasonable,” Stuart said.

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