ICYMI: SASC Chairman Inhofe Questions Witnesses at SASC Subcommittee Hearing about Privatized Housing

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), questioned witnesses at a SASC hearing to receive testimony on current condition of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative.

Witnesses included:

Panel One: Janna Driver, Tinker Air Base, Oklahoma; Crystal Cornwall, Quantico Station, Virginia; and Jana Wanner, Fort Meade, Maryland.

Watch video here.

Panel Two: Mr. Christopher Williams, President of Balfour Beatty Communities; Mr. John G. Picerne, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Corvias Group; Mr. John Ehle, President of Hunt Military Communities; and Mr. Denis Hickey, Chief Executive Officer of Americas Lendlease Corporation.

Watch video here.

Panel Three: Honorable Robert H., McMahon Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment; Honorable Alex A. Beehler, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment; Honorable Phyllis L. Bayer, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and Environment; and Honorable John W. Henderson, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy.

Click to watch Sen. Inhofe’s introduction. 

Panel One Remarks:

Inhofe: Nothing is more important our families so that Americans who volunteer to fight on behalf of us know that the ones that they love are cared for. That is very basic. Mrs. Driver, do you believe that you have an advocate fight safe housing for our military families?

Driver: Our military housing liasion has fought tirelessly to help families at Tinker. But that's about as far as it goes.

Inhofe: Yes. And I would say this to all the military families that are represented here. Do you believe that military families experiences in the base housing will impact their decision to remain in the service? Each one of you.

Panel: Unanimous no.

Inhofe: Yes. That is one of the problems we're having right now. We're trying to rebuild a force that needs to rebuilt for all of our safeties. This does have a negative effect on that, I'm fearful. Thank you very much for your testimonies. Senator Reed.

Panel Two Remarks:

Inhofe: The witnesses in the first panel singled out three organizations that happened to be your organizations Mr. Williams, yours Picerne, and yours Mr. Ehle. So I'd like to have you make any comments or responses to those statements that were made concerning your organizations. Take those four minutes to do so. The three of you, starting with you Mr. Williams.

Williams:“I heard loud and clear the Drivers — Mrs. Driver and her comments and I take them extremely serious.”

“At Tinker Air Force Base we experienced a product failure with a plumbing system in 398 homes that were built several years ago. It was a manufacturers product defect and at one point we had over 500 water leak calls in to our offices. I will never make an excuse, we need to do better. We were managing in a crisis situation. We worked with the local command to develop a plan to go in replace all of that plumbing systems and I realize it was a major inconvenience as well as a true hardship to the residents that had to experience that. Especially the Drivers and the other families that were named in the article.”

Picerne: "We are at, what I would call a critical inflection point in where our program is. And we know we need to get to the bottom of the challenges that we are facing.”

“We have some new homes, we have some older homes that need major renovations. We've had some challenges in dealing with that. But specifically to the family that moved to Fort Meade, expecting to have their child brought into a single family or single story home. It's unacceptable. My company will stand up and will help and support that family and every family going forward in trying to make these things better. There was a time and place when that would never have happened, and again we've made some shifts and changes according and with our governance partners, the United States Army, and those changes were not good. We owe a debt of gratitude to their families and we need to help.”

Ehle: “We heard the families loud and clear, it's a heartbreaking story and no one should ever have to go through that. Like I said, no percentage of unhealthy homes is acceptable to Hunt.”

“We have process and procedures and protocols that we follow to work closely with our residents. It’s our goal every moment, every day, to resolve their issues to completion and satisfaction. We do sometimes fall short. Whenever we do we look back at those situations and try to learn from them. We're an accountable organization. If we find weaknesses in our organization we tend to those. We will continue to do so, but we've got room to improve, we don't shy away from that, we own that. And we want to work with the stakeholders here to achieve a better program for all."