WASHINGTON — On Friday, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), ranking member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, sent a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin requesting several new actions in response to the findings of their eight-month bipartisan investigation into the mistreatment of military families in privatized housing.
On May 12, Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment announced the Army is undertaking an investigation of Balfour Beatty’s performance at Ft. Gordon, an audit of their property management records, and a suspension of incentive fees as a direct result of PSI’s findings. Assistant Secretary Jacobson also said the Army’s General Counsel initiated a legal review of possible enforcement options, including whether or not the Army can amend contracts with privatized housing operators.
In their letter, Chair Ossoff and Ranking Member Johnson called on Secretary Austin to initiate similar reviews by the Navy and Air Force, both of which have installations with private Balfour Beatty housing. They are also calling on the Secretary to provide additional information about other legal authorities or resources the Department of Defense has or needs to improve oversight of privatized military housing companies like Balfour Beatty.
“We are concerned that the steps summarized above are not sufficient. Balfour pled guilty to fraud against all three military service branches — the Air Force and the Navy as well as the Army. Further, the information uncovered by PSI’s inquiry and at the April 26th hearing suggests that Balfour has continued to mistreat military families and to record inaccurate and incomplete work order data in its internal Yardi system at non-Army installations,” the senators wrote.
PSI’s report found numerous examples of inaccurate work orders and repair requests. Chair Ossoff and Ranking Member Johnson asked Secretary Austin if the Department has current access to all original repair requests, and if not, what steps are needed to ensure they do.
In April, Chair Ossoff and Ranking Member Johnson held a hearing revealing the mistreatment of military families in privatized housing in which service members, military spouses, and housing advocates testified, and in which Balfour executives testified under oath about the company’s actions.
The full text of the letter can be found here.