Senate military bill includes funds for Clear subcontractors

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A military spending bill allows $8 million to go to subcontractors who believe they were shortchanged on the construction of a new radar at Clear Air Force Station.

The language, in the Senate version of the Defense appropriations bill, asks the secretary of the Air Force to review the subcontractors' claims and pay them an amount deemed appropriate.

The dispute, now in court, is between Raytheon, the main contractor on the project, and its subcontractors. Work began in 1998 and the new radar began operating a year ago at Clear, located about 70 miles southwest of Fairbanks.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, placed the money in the Senate bill. It is scheduled for conference committee meetings to work out differences with the House version.

Stevens said Thursday that he felt the money would appropriately come from the government because it failed to require an adequate bond from the main contractor, Raytheon, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The original contract was for a total of $69 million, according to Lt. Col. Laura Feldman, director of public affairs at Hanscomb Air Force Base in Massachusetts. The facility construction portion of the project, which she said was the only portion that required bonding, was $41.4 million.

However, at a ceremony to mark the closing of the old Clear radar in February, an Air Force officer said the project cost $110 million.

Under the Senate language, the $8 million would be routed through the Alaska District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps acted as the construction agent on the project, although the station itself is operated by the Air Force.

No federal agency is a party to the suit, said Corps spokeswoman Pat Richardson in Anchorage. The dispute is between Raytheon and its subcontractor Gaston and Associates, she said. At issue are change orders, extra work and impact costs, she said.

Gaston subcontracted with Alcan Electric, International Steel, A&P Construction, Siemens, Aaron Plumbing and H&K Mechanical, according to Richardson.

Mark Jackson, Alcan's attorney in Seattle, said the Anchorage company filed a claim for $3.8 million with Gaston for work performed beyond the original contract. Alcan has not gotten the money, he said.

Attorneys for Gaston and Raytheon could not be reached.

The Senate language says that any payments are to settle the disputes completely, ''with no right of appeal in any forum.''

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