Noting that various military housing facilities built by private contractors continue to be plagued by mold, lead-based paint, and pest infestations, a new report is saying that the Defense Department needs to increase its maintenance of such structures.
The report, Military Housing Privatization, notes that while the Department of Defense has “Increasingly monitored privatized housing conditions at their respective bases,” the department continues to lack “reliable or meaningful data or metrics that adequately reflect the condition of housing.”
Published by the Government Accountability Office, the report notes that Defense Department reviews of such housing generally is comprised of “reviewing a sample of work order requests, visually inspecting housing during change or occupancy, and conducting other point in time assessments.”
But such efforts, says the report, “are limited in scope,” adding that typical “interior walk-throughs may have been limited to just a few homes at each installation.”
The report is additionally critical of housing data collected by private partners, noting that such information cannot “reliably be used for ongoing monitoring of privatized housing because of data anomalies and inconsistent business practices” in how the numbers are crunched.
Even when military bases have set up channels allowing for soldiers to report issues with their housing, residents interviewed for the study expressed confusion over the differences between an office operated by a private partner and one run by the base itself.
Such offices, said the report, “have not always effectively communicated” their role to the residents.
Private partners are today responsible for the ownership, construction, renovation, and maintenance of around 99 percent of housing units nationally on federal military bases.
According to Elizabeth Field, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the Defense Department remains committed to increasing its oversight of military housing.
Field, the director of the Defense Capabilities and Management office, said a new guidance issued by the Defense Department in October is mandating that metrics for resident satisfaction and maintenance management must now be a part of all private housing contracts.
That process, continued Field, “will provide military departments more transparency into private partner performance with regard to two important metrics—metrics that are often directly tied to the performance and incentive fees provided to the private partners.”
By Garry Boulard