Inhofe Tours Tinker Housing as Balfour Beatty Gets 90 Days to Implement Remediation Plan

Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe visited Tinker Air Force Base on Tuesday with Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matt Donovan and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy John Henderson to assess “ongoing and emerging health, chemical and structural issues” with base housing. Following a tour, the delegation and senior Tinker AFB leadership met with a company representative of the private contractor that manages the housing units, according to a press release issued by Sen. Inhofe’s office on Wednesday.

The U.S. military is intensely scrutinizing the maintenance practices of Balfour Beatty LLC, the private contractor that manages base housing nationwide. The company now has 90 days to prepare and begin execution of an approved plan to promptly resolve the widespread remediation and repair issues.

Last week, Sen. Inhofe learned that all 292 duplex units constructed by Balfour Beatty on Tinker Air Force Base required repairs, including 77 units that lacked firewalls. As early as October of 2018, Tinker AFB housing families reported issues relating to mold, rodents and pests, radon gas and other structural defects.

“My trip to Tinker confirmed additional problems our families are having with privatized housing on base: homes not up to fire code, potential exposure to asbestos, and continuous mold problems,” said Sen. Inhofe. “This is beyond unacceptable. No families should have to live like this, especially not our military families. I’m horrified and outraged at these conditions.”

“As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I initiated a major Department of Defense and Congressional campaign to eradicate the issues that led to unsafe substandard living conditions. We held two hearings; the department launched several investigations and committed to move families out of dangerous conditions immediately when alerted. Additionally, my committee put over 35 new provisions of law addressing housing reform into the national defense authorization bill, which should pass very soon. These provisions give families and the department new tools to hold these private contractors accountable,” said Sen. Inhofe.

“My biggest disappointment was discovering new problems like the lack of firewall protections between newly built housing units and mold problems that persist because the root causes were never addressed,” said Sen. Inhofe. “I have to ask, what other undiscovered problems exist? Seven months ago, Balfour Beatty, the company responsible for the housing at Tinker Air Force Base, testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee that they would move quickly to address systemic issues. They have not. We put them on notice then, and now they have been put on notice by the Air Force that they have 90 days to fix these problems,” said Sen. Inhofe.

“While I applaud the Air Force for taking these actions, I wonder why it has taken so long. I encourage the other services to step up and do the same if they have contractors that are not taking care of our families. Our military families deserve so much better than this,” said Sen. Inhofe. “These problems need to be fixed now and forever. If the current set of housing contractors won’t do it, the Air Force and the other services need to find someone who will.”

If Balfour Beatty’s plan is not acceptable and improved performance is not achieved, the Air Force will initiate a formal dispute process that includes stiff penalties and the potential risk of forfeiting the base housing contract.

KOCO-5 reports that leadership at Tinker AFB and housing management will hold a resident-only town hall meeting on Thursday.

“Our overarching concern is the health and safety of our airmen and their families,” said Matt Donovan, acting secretary of the Air Force.