Pryor Initiatives to Prevent Waste in Military Housing Contracts, Improve Flying Hours Policy Heads to the President's Desk
Senator Mark Pryor today said he is pleased Congress passed his legislation to stop wasteful spending and delays in military base housing projects. This provision, as well as Pryor's effort to help pilots meet their flight pay requirements while deployed, is part of the National Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2009. This legislation now heads to the White House, where President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.
Improved Oversight on Military Housing Contracts
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Pryor's initiative to improve oversight and accountability for military housing privatization projects was accepted when the committee first drafted the bill in May. The provision would require greater interaction among the government and private entities involved in base housing projects; establish minimum bonding levels; specify procedures to be used in the case of schedule or performance problems; and ensure DoD maintains a database of entities that achieve unsatisfactory performance ratings on such projects.
The Senator's action follows a multi-million dollar housing fiasco at the Little Rock Air Force Base. American Eagle Communities LLC was awarded a contract to build 468 new homes and remodel 732 homes by 2011. Only 25 homes were completed and occupied, and an estimated 70 concrete slabs were poured before the company stopped construction on May 7, 2007 due to unpaid bills. Similar situations occurred on bases in Georgia, Florida, and Massachusetts.
"The bottom line is that our men and women in uniform and their families deserve to live in quality housing. Last year, I passed legislation to investigate why slabs of concrete stood where new base housing was supposed to exist at the Little Rock Air Force Base. This year, we've taken that information and put in the right safeguards to prevent future waste, fraud and abuse in these housing projects."
Fairness for Military Aviators
The legislation also contains Pryor's initiative to address a problem military aviators are experiencing when they are sent to combat on non-flying assignments. The amendment directs the Secretaries of the Air Force and Navy to review their flight pay programs, their assignment of officers qualified for aviation service to non-flying assignments, and the effect of these assignments on these officers' continued eligibility for flight pay. The findings will be reported to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. Pryor said pilots in the Air Force and Navy are being deployed for missions that require military aviators to perform support or administrative duties. Depending on how long a pilot is deployed, he/she could lose several months of flying credit which ultimately can affect eligibility for future aviation career incentive pay.
"Many pilots are answering the call to duty by being deployed overseas, even if they are not flying. However, in the long run, this makes it extremely difficult to meet flying requirements," said Pryor. "I believe if the Air Force and Navy Secretaries review the situation, they will make the appropriate changes to ensure these aviators are not financially punished for filling positions where our country needs them most."