Quality Improving in Army Housing

Quality Improving in Army Housing

Ft Jackson housing
Photo by: U.S. Army

A government watchdog agency says the Army and other military services could be doing more to ensure the quality of military family housing.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, says in a report released April 6 that the Army has structured performance bonuses for the companies that oversee on-post privatized housing in a way that holds property managers accountable for homes that fail inspection. More could be done, the report says, noting that some homes are allowed to be occupied even while they still have minor problems.

The Army is the only military service with a process for terminating or replacing a property manager for underperforming, the GAO report says.

The Army’s Manpower Analysis Agency is reviewing personnel requirements in a move that could justify having more people assigned to oversee housing, the report says. “However, the review will not guarantee that any additional personnel will be allocated for housing oversight at the various headquarters offices because of competing requirements, as evaluated across the entire Army,” the report says.

Since 2019, the services have increased inspections of privatized housing maintenance, but detailed rating standards have not been set. Inspections are supposed to happen between tenants. Every room is supposed to be rated, with an overall pass, fail or “pass with conditions” label. Homes are not supposed to be assigned to new residents without a passing grade.

The GAO credits the Army with taking the right steps. “The Army has issued turnover inspection guidance that includes instructions for when these inspections should take place. The guidance also outlines specific standards that each component should be measured against when determining ratings, but allows for inspector discretion,” the report says.

Congressional investigators would prefer that the services all use the same standard for inspections. A working group is trying to develop a uniform rating system.

The GAO recommends that the Army provide more training to housing office personnel on how to resolve disputes between a tenant and the housing provider, and to clarify what housing offices can and cannot do as advocates for tenants.

The report is available here.