Military HousingPrivatization Off to a Slow Start and Continued Management Attention Needed Gao ID: NSIAD-98-178 July 17, 1998
The Defense Department (DOD) is counting on privatization to remedy the poor condition of military housing, but an initiative to encourage private sector financing, ownership, and maintenance of military housing is off to a slow start. Two years have passed since the new authorities were signed into law, yet no new agreements have been finalized to build or renovate military housing. More than a dozen projects are being considered; however, only one project is close to signing. Among other concerns, GAO questions whether privatization will yield significant cost savings and cautions that the length of many proposed privatization projects--50 years--may actually increase the risk of unneeded housing or poorly maintained properties.
GAO noted that: (1) DOD considers privatization to be a powerful new tool to help address the military housing problem; (2) two years have passed since the new authorities were signed into law, yet no new agreements have been finalized to build or renovate military housing; (3) more than a dozen projects are being considered; however, only one project is close to contract signing; (4) according to DOD, progress has been slower than expected because the initiative represents a new way of doing business for both the military and the private sector; (5) many legal, financial, contractual, and budgetary scoring issues had to be resolved to the satisfaction of parties representing the government, developers, and private lenders; (6) although DOD expects implementation to speed up after the first few privatization deals are completed, it is difficult to predict how much the program can be accelerated given the unique circumstances of individual projects; (7) in addition to potential benefits, implementation of the privatization initiative raises several concerns; (8) one concern is whether privatization will result in significant cost savings; (9) to a large degree, privatization shifts funding from military housing construction, operations, and maintenance accounts to military personnel accounts to pay for increased housing allowances used to pay rent to developers of privatized housing; (10) GAO's review of the services' life-cycle cost analyses for two privatization projects disclosed that the difference in the cost of privatization and traditional military construction financing was considerably less than the services' estimates and relatively modest; (11) the privatization initiative has not been fully integrated with other elements of an overall housing strategy to meet DOD's housing needs in an optimum manner; (12) comprehensive housing referral services could lessen the need for government housing, yet only the Navy has aggressively pursued this option; (13) better coordination between the separate offices responsible for housing allowances and military housing construction and management could ensure that their decisions on housing matters are made in concert, rather than in isolation, with each other; and (14) comprehensive, better integrated plans could tie together the elements of DOD's housing program and help maximize the advantages of the privatization initiative while minimizing total housing costs.Recommendations
Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.Director: Team: Phone: