I-TEAM: GAO report shows much work to be done for private military housing

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

(Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – We have an update on an I-Team investigation into military housing.

Since we started digging into problems at Fort Gordon, the issue has gone up the chain of command at installations across the country.

We got our hands on a preliminary report from the Government Accountability Office.

The final report should be out in early 2020, but if this is any indication, there is much work to be done.

It's only 23 pages, but all 23 pack a punch, and they paint a familiar picture. Our I-Team first told you in about a lot of those same problems back in August, some so serious, the Army referred to them as life-health safety. We're talking 122 electrical issues, 130 pest problems, 73 mold moisture complaints, and seven gas issues.

A former Balfour Beatty employee at Fort Gordon warned of even more problems.

"The maintenance really doesn't do their part, the contractors definitely do not do their part, so if you have a circle full of people that are not doing their part and are not held accountable, then this is what you get,” anonymous Balfour Beatty employee Dorothy said.

She also says she was told to keep the Army in the dark.

Months later, the Government Accountability Office made similar claims across all branches of our military.

When it comes to maintenance, the GAO identified "duplicate work orders, work orders with completion dates prior to the dates that a resident submitted the work order, and work orders still listed as in-progress for 18 months."

As for resident satisfaction, the new report says reports to Congress have been "unreliable" and even "misleading," saying "specifically we found missing data points and incorrect formulas."

Just last week, Georgia Sen. David Perdue questioned the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army General about substandard military housing.

"I grew up in base housing. I understand what it means to be dislocated. This is unacceptable what's happening right now,” Perdue said.

Perdue wants to make it clear, contractors like Balfour Beatty aren't the only ones to blame here.

"We're pointing fingers at contractors, and yes, there's culpability there, and it needs to be dealt with. There's leadership issues, maybe within the [Department of Defense], that need to be dealt with,” Perdue said. “But the one thing we're not talking about is the responsibility we have right here in Congress."

Perdue says a lot of that has to do with another battle our military never gets to fight -- the one happening on Capitol Hill with the budget. The current extension runs out Dec. 20.

"This is the third month, this is the end of the first quarter of our fiscal year, and we have not funded our men and women in uniform. Period,” Perdue said.

The lack of funding leaves many of them and their families facing an uphill battle on the home front.

The report also references something we brought up months and months ago -- how soldiers are not aware there are two separate housing offices on post -- one run by a private company and the other by the military.

So when they complain to one, they aren't aware there's a second one they should go to as well.

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