Senior leaders testify on progress to fix military housing

Senior leaders testify on progress to fix military housing

The Army’s top leaders updated lawmakers Tuesday on progress being made to fix problems seen in privatized military housing.

In his opening statement, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy restated the Army’s “serious commitment” to offering quality housing to Soldiers, civil servants and their families.

“It is our responsibility to provide housing, not simply to code but also to quality,” he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill.

The current housing crisis, he said, must be fixed using a house-to-house approach, in addition to correcting the governance model and underlying issues to ensure systemic change.

Earlier this year, Army senior leaders placed housing as the No. 1 priority for quality of life, following complaints of health concerns inside homes and mismanagement of housing contractors.

In the past 10 months, the Army identified governance flaws, initiated commander-driven town halls and created 24-hour helplines to hear feedback directly from families, McCarthy said.

“We have empowered the chain of command as part of the solution, created transparency of the work order process, and ultimately, sought to regain the trust of the men and women in our ranks and their families,” he said.

Backing these efforts, housing operations have now been assigned to the commander of Army Materiel Command, Gen. Gus Perna, who has delegated authority to slash incentive fees for housing contractors.

“We developed new incentive fee metrics measuring work order response times, work order repair quality, and resident satisfaction that will allow us to withhold fees for substandard performance,” McCarthy said.

Incentives have already been cut for poor performance at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, with possibly more to come across Army installations in the near future.

A new incentive fee award structure is also expected to be released Jan. 1, he added.

The average incentive fee now stands at 77 percent, with the lowest at 11 percent, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, who also attended the hearing along with other military senior leaders.

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