Armed Forces News

Amid continuing reports about poor conditions at privatized military housing, the government’s chief watchdog agency outlined reasons why the program – and its oversight – are falling short.

The problem with resolving the issue of inadequate housing centers largely upon limited authority and resources in changing the terms of such projects, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated in a Dec. 3 report to Congress. Among the findings:

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* While the Defense Department is responsible for conducting oversight of privatized housing sites’ physical conditions, “some efforts have been limited in scope. Interior walk-throughs may have been limited to just a few homes at each installation.”

* The performance metrics used to assess providers of privatized residences “may not provide meaningful information on the condition of the housing.”For example, the metrics address how long it takes for a provider to respond to a specific complaint, but does not consider “whether the issue was actually addressed.”

* Maintenance data is not measured adequately, either by military housing officials or the providers.

* Some of the Defense Department’s reports to Congress about the status of privatized housing “are unreliable and may be misleading.”

GAO recognized that the Defense Department has taken steps to address the concerns, and has made some progress. Still, the limits of authority to order changes is unclear to both officials and providers, the report stated.