The Defense Department needs to improve its oversight of privatized military housing, the government’s chief watchdog agency says.
In testimony presented earlier this month to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) specified several areas of concern. Since the Pentagon began providing privatized housing to service members in 1996, each service has assumed responsibility for ensuring that the facilities met appropriate standards.
Nearly all construction, renovation, maintenance and repairs would be performed by private contractors. However, reports of hazardous and slipshod conditions triggered concern on Capitol Hill about how these properties were being managed. Some housing was found to be overwhelmed with mold, while others were not sufficiently repaired after natural disasters.
In its testimony, GAO stated that the services used metrics to measure contractors’ performance that were too limited to be effective in identifying potential and real problems. Some of the data, GAO stated, was “unreliable” and led to “misleading results.”
The agency also urged the Pentagon “to improve the process for setting basic allowance for housing (BAH) – a key source of revenue for privatized housing projects.” The sample size the department used was inadequate, GAO stated.
“Without establishing procedures for timely and documented reviews, the military departments cannot be assured that the projects are complying with insurance requirements and assuming a proper balance of risk and cost,” the testimony stated.