I was very angry to read that helmets made for the US armed forces by Federal Prison Industries have been shown to be defective and far below acceptable standards.
FPI is a government-owned company established by an executive order in the 1930s, and whose aim it is to provide prisoners with jobs that can help make them marketable after they’ve served their time.
FPI was awarded a $23,019,629 government contract in 2008 to build Lightweight Marine Corps Helmets, or LMCHs. The Beaumont, Texas-based FPI produced about 23,000 helmets, selling and delivering only 3,000 to the DOD, though the DOD never paid because all 3,000 were defective. In fact, at the end of an investigation by the Office of Inspector General, all 23,000 LMCHs were quarantined.
But FPI had also worked as a subcontractor for Ohio-based company ArmorSource, which was one of four companies contracted to manufacture Advanced Combat Helmets, or ACHs. The two companies made 126,052 helmets from 2006 to 2009, for which ArmorSource made a total of $30,336,461.04.
The investigations found that both FPI’s LMCH helmets and the ACH helmets it produced for ArmorSource were riddled with manufacturing defects.
. . .
These helmets are a big deal for soldiers’ safety, and the DOJ report makes that abundantly clear. It says says the defects found in the investigation could “likely cause serious injury or death to the wearer,” due in part to reduced ballistic and impact protection.
The good news is that the investigation says it doesn’t have any information indicating that defective ACH helmets resulted in injuries or deaths of soldiers, and luckily the LMCHs were quarantined before they ever got out.
There's more at the link.
I'm particularly angry because I can't understand how FPI's standards were allowed to slip so badly. When I worked as a chaplain in the federal prison system, the standards at the prison factories were relatively high, and goods produced by them were equivalent in standard to anything produced by private industry. How could such slipshod work (and work practices) creep into what was, at least during my time in service, a very professional corporation? What happened? Who was responsible - and why have no charges, criminal or civil, resulted from the investigation?
Our military service personnel deserve better than this. Heads need to roll.