Greater Emphasis on Occupant Responsibilities Can Reduce Military Family Housing Costs

PLRD-83-77: Published: Jun 6, 1983. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 1983.

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GAO evaluated the Department of Defense's (DOD) effectiveness in identifying and assessing occupant damages to military family housing and its efficiency in operating self-help maintenance programs.

GAO found that, although recent congressional legislation has provided additional authority and incentive to collect for damages, DOD remains slow in identifying occupant liability and implementing collection activities. GAO noted that family housing maintenance costs amounted to over $400 million in 1981. Without explicit guidance to identify repair liability, unidentified damages are often treated as routine maintenance, and repair costs are absorbed by the government. GAO also found that, while self-help maintenance programs have significant potential to reduce maintenance costs, the current implementation of the self-help concept appears to be falling short of expectations, and some programs may cost more than they save. The programs are also handicapped by weak controls over funds, inventory, and issued materials. GAO concluded that, before potential benefits from the self-help programs can be realized, changes are needed to correct the problems it identified.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to provide highly visible emphasis on an assertive damage assessment and collection program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not concur with this recommendation because it would be unfair for people lacking needed skills or when a sponsor was deployed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to enhance the potential benefits of the self-help programs and to increase their effectiveness if they have been determined to be cost beneficial, should require the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to determine the feasibility of making minor maintenance tasks mandatory for tenants and charging tenants if such maintenance is done at government expense.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should require their installations to provide proper support and command emphasis on enforcing housing occupants' responsibilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should require their installations to provide proper support and command emphasis on enforcing housing occupants' responsibilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should require their installations to provide proper support and command emphasis on enforcing housing occupants' responsibilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to develop and issue clear, specific instructions for identifying and collecting tenant damages.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should require their installations to develop and implement procedures to ensure that: (1) maintenance personnel identify work necessitated by suspected tenant damages; and (2) housing inspectors are notified in order to start collection actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should require their installations to develop and implement procedures to ensure that: (1) maintenance personnel identify work necessitated by suspected tenant damages; and (2) housing inspectors are notified in order to start collection actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should require their installations to develop and implement procedures to ensure that: (1) maintenance personnel identify work necessitated by suspected tenant damages; and (2) housing inspectors are notified in order to start collection actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to enhance the potential benefits of the self-help programs and to increase their effectiveness if they have been determined to be cost beneficial, should require the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to provide uniform, specific guidelines for the self-help programs that list: (1) those tasks which are to be tenant responsibilities; and (2) those items to be stocked in the self-help stores for tenant use in performing these tasks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to deter occupant damage and reduce housing maintenance costs, should provide more explicit criteria as to what constitutes abuse and neglect and strongly emphasize the importance of ensuring that tenants pay for damages. In particular, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to: (1) provide highly visible emphasis on an assertive damage assessment and collection program; and (2) develop and issue clear, specific instructions for identifying and collecting for tenant damage. The service Secretaries should require their installations to: (1) provide proper support and command emphasis on enforcing housing occupants' responsibilities; and (2) develop and implement procedures to ensure that maintenance personnel identify work necessitated by suspended tenant damages, and that housing inspectors are notified in order to start collection actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to make a reassessment of their self-help programs. The reassessment should include a determination of the actual, where available, or the best estimated cost of the program and the savings being realized. These data should originate at the installation level.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, to enhance the potential benefits of the self-help programs, and to increase their effectiveness if they have been determined to be cost beneficial, should require the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to: (1) strengthen internal controls to ensure that housing money used for self-help is properly accounted for; (2) store inventories are properly controlled; and (3) store items are used in military family housing to make minor repairs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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