Fraud at Eagle-Picher? Cover-Up May Have Caused Smart Bombs To Go Astray

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#1
From: http://www.cbsnews.com - Link was /now/story/0,1597,320541-412,00.shtml

Bad Batteries To Blame?
Ex-Worker: Cover-Up May Have Caused Smart Bombs To Go Astray

JOPLIN, Mo., Dec 7, 2001

(CBS) When U.S. smart bombs go off course, striking American soldiers as they have in Afghanistan, former workers from the Eagle-Picher Technologies plant in Joplin, Mo. fear a battery made here may have failed.

"It does reach the point where you can't sleep at night," said Rick Peoples.

"With the things going on in Afghanistan, this has been on my conscience for a long time," admitted Doug Smith.

Doug Smith and Rick Peoples worked on batteries that power the guidance systems of almost every U.S. smart weapon.

Peoples, a production engineer, says supervisors ordered him to ship out defective batteries because discarding them would have cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"They threatened me several times with my check if I would not sign off on battery lots that had actually failed," said Peoples.

Smith worked at the plant's testing lab where he says technicians were told to falsify tests and get rid of bad results.

"I was shown how to delete the information from the computer disks," he said.

He claims software and equipment were rigged and inspectors deceived by faked tests.

"I was quite amazed when I saw the computer actually showing voltage and current and no battery being hooked up."

Pentagon officials and smart bomb makers refused to talk. But a former Air Force Chief of Staff says this can't be ignored.

"It's such a key component because once they depart the aircraft and begin their trajectory to the ground, they are totally reliant on this battery," said Gen. Ronald Fogleman, USAF (ret.).

"I went to every single manager at Eagle-Picher and talked to them about their processes, the falsifying of battery test data, the failures that were going out the door and I got results from no one," said Peoples.

A former Marine, Peoples says he was fired for speaking out and filed a whistle-blower suit. Eagle-Picher says he was "terminated because he failed to perform to management expectations." The company says there is no evidence to back up his allegations and they say the batteries work.

CBS News spoke to other Eagle-Picher employees who confirmed a number of the allegations. They couldn't talk on camera because the company paid them thousands of dollars to sign documents in which they promised to stay silent. A deal the company also offered to Rick Peoples.

In exchange for $10,000, he, like the others, was to drop any claims "regarding his employment relationship." They all believe that was meant to prevent them from talking about the alleged cover up.

"They can't, they couldn't buy my integrity and where they ever got the idea they could, I have no idea," said Peoples.

A government investigation produced no charges, but sources said the probe was hampered by company lawyers who instructed employees not to answer certain questions. And now top Pentagon officials, and congressional investigators, say they will be looking into these allegations.
 
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J
#2
Batteries

If the allegations prove true, there is no punishment too severe for those who endanger our national defence. This is treachery and I for one have no tolerance for it.

War is a messy business, and people die. But if soldiers are killed or wounded because of industrial treachery, those guilty should pay the highest cost.

:mad: :mad: :mad:

James
 
J

Jim Biz

#3
As I read through this the thought comes to mind---

We have a thread discussing " Quality reporting to production".
To borrow energy's take on the issue "where were the quality police" ??
 
D

Dean Frederickson

#4
Did anyone ever hear of the results of the investigation? Or was this another hush-hush and it will go away item. Personally I believe the b*stards ought to be strung up by the ****.
 
C

Craig H.

#5
Did anyone ever hear of the results of the investigation? Or was this another hush-hush and it will go away item. Personally I believe the b*stards ought to be strung up by the ****.
If the allegations are true, I'll even provide the rope. No excuse whatsoever for this kind of thing.

At the same time I have to think about Wes' advice concerning whistleblowers. If that management knowingly endangered our troops, the guy who turned them in had better have a lot of folks watching his back...
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#6
Oh what a tangled web we weave...

The heart of deception is greed, in one form or another. People will do despicable things to protect their money and their image.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#7
This type of 'problem' is why I got out of military manufacturing and will not work with any company with defense contracts. As recently as last year about this time I accepted a contract with an Army munitions facility after a meeting where I was 'instructed' in the importance of the project, then I thought about my past experiences, and told them I decided I didn't want to get involved (which really made them mad, to say the least). It would have been excellent, easy money contract for US$1250 a day, but the chances of ending up with problems made it simply not worth it. The last time I worked with a company on a military contract was back just before the 1st Gulf 'war' on an avionics communications project. It was a nightmare.

Fraud in military manufacturing was rife back in the 1980's when I got into quality assurance, and there is no doubt in my mind it is as pervasive today as it was back then. I see a lot of hostility in this thread about it, but if anyone thinks it isn't a serious problem in many military manufacturing businesses hasn't worked in military manufacturing. Having worked with companies who manufactured everything from avionics electronics to bomb fuses, fraud was always around.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#8
Oh no....

I started my career in Quality as an inspector for diesel submarine repairs. One thing I liked very much about my time in Navy QA was that I always had complete, rock-solid support of my department and command. If the thing wasn't done right, the ship wouldn't sail. An E-4 was able to tell the customer ship's C.O. that he would unfortunately miss his deployment date. Of course the captain never liked hearing such news, but even that low-level non-comissioned officer wasn't second guessed and we needed that. We knew lives wouldn't always depend upon this or that particular repair, but the systems were controlled for good reason and we guarded them fiercely for the sake of safety and our own reputation.

So you can guess how it felt to leave that and join the world where things like this story happen. It keeps going over and over again like an ancient Greek tragic play. (Taking Ancient Literature in college helped me understand that these things are people oriented in a timeless way)

Yes, these people need to roast. Unfortunately that whistleblower will probably find that he won't be protected as well as he ought to be, for simply telling the truth. :(
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#9
I can personally remember when shortcuts were taken in the manufacturing of fuzes for the M-26 hand grenade and instead od 3-5 seconds there were grenades going off 0.5-1 second after being thrown. It got to the point that everyone was afraid to use a grenade because of the number of guys that lost a hand or worse. I saw it myself. It turned out one of the short-cuts being done was to use more readily available fuzes for smoke grenades when there were shortages and they were the ones that had the 0.5-1 second delay.

The errors had a great cost!
 

Bigfoot

Involved - Posts
#10
Oh no....

I started my career in Quality as an inspector for diesel submarine repairs. One thing I liked very much about my time in Navy QA was that I always had complete, rock-solid support of my department and command. If the thing wasn't done right, the ship wouldn't sail. An E-4 was able to tell the customer ship's C.O. that he would unfortunately miss his deployment date. Of course the captain never liked hearing such news, but even that low-level non-comissioned officer wasn't second guessed and we needed that. We knew lives wouldn't always depend upon this or that particular repair, but the systems were controlled for good reason and we guarded them fiercely for the sake of safety and our own reputation.

So you can guess how it felt to leave that and join the world where things like this story happen. It keeps going over and over again like an ancient Greek tragic play. (Taking Ancient Literature in college helped me understand that these things are people oriented in a timeless way)

Yes, these people need to roast. Unfortunately that whistleblower will probably find that he won't be protected as well as he ought to be, for simply telling the truth. :(
SO TRUE SO TRUE, AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY THEY HAVE TO COMPLY WITH SOME OF SARBANES - OXLEY. :confused:
 
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