Expressions of Alarm

A growing cadre of lawmakers want the Air Force to be more diligent in its selection of contractors to handle housing privatization issues. Leading the charge are Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), both of whose states include bases embroiled in failed privatization projects. At least eight senators, representing states where Air Force projects are in trouble, on Dec. 12 sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, expressing their alarm and disappointment at “the level of failure at these four projects [Little Rock, Hanscom, Moody, and Patrick Air Force Bases], all of which have been under work stoppages for months, are years behind schedule, and are tens of millions of dollars over budget.” They claim the situation “has traumatized the local communities” caused some residents who served as subcontractors to lose homes and businesses. The letter cites a lack of accountability, inadequate mechanisms to monitor performance, and ineffective control of financial payments. Chambliss and Pryor plan to introduce legislation that would, among other provisions, call for “more vigorous process in vetting project bidders.” Pryor said, “It’s unfortunate that resolving these problems requires an act of Congress, but that’s what it’s come to.” Chambliss added that he believes housing privatization can work, but “we need assurances” that these problems “will not happen again.”