NEW YORK (Reuters) - A unit of UK infrastructure giant Balfour Beatty plc falsified housing maintenance records at a major U.S. military base to help it maximize fees earned from the Department of Defense, a Reuters investigation found.
At Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, the company's U.S.-based unit used a second set of books and altered records to make it appear responsive to maintenance requests, Reuters found in a review of company and Air Force emails, internal memos and other documents, as well as interviews with former workers.
(U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Alexandria Crawford)
A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.
The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."
Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.
What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.
"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."
The Senate Armed Services Committee hears from military leaders. (Adrian Cadiz/U.S. Air Force.
Several senators have signed onto new legislation which would give the Defense Department more responsibility and oversight of privatized housing companies, as well as more rights regarding clean and safe housing environment for tenants.
The Military Housing Oversight and Service Member Protection Act, embedded below, was proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Hawaii), both on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. Other co-sponsors include SASC members Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
"Our service members make sacrifices to protect our country, and they and their families deserve safe, affordable housing that isn't falling apart around them," Warren said. "This bill will eliminate the kind of corner-cutting and neglect the Defense Department should never have let these private housing providers get away with in the first place."
TAMPA — A lawsuit reveals the extent of the loss from a fire two years ago that burned the home of the former U.S. Central Command leader and destroyed its contents, including gifts from world leaders and art and antiques collected by his wife.
In an effort to get a handle on what has grown into a military-wide crisis in privatized housing, the Army is launching a registry to help keep track of complaints, according to a memo obtained by Task & Purpose and later announced by the Army.
Photo Illustration by Task & Purpose's Aaron Provost/U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Devin Bowser
Thom Tillis was angry.
During a March 7th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the Republican senator from North Carolina told each of the military service chiefs and secretaries that he'd learned of private military housing providers asking tenants to sign non-disclosure agreements in exchange for "some sort of a bonus."