Report | Sept. 30, 2014

Military Housing Inspections - Japan

DODIG-2014-121

Objective

Our objective was to inspect DoD military housing in Japan for compliance with DoD and Federal environmental health and safety policies and standards. Those policies and standards include the Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes and standards, National Electrical Code (NEC), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

Findings

The majority of deficiencies (violations of code) identified during our inspection were attributed to insufficient inspection, maintenance, and repair of housing facilities. A total of 1,057 deficiencies were identified that could affect the health, safety, and well being of warfighters and their families: 542 were fire protection systems, 420 were electrical systems, 87 were environmental health and safety, and 8 were housing management. Of the total deficiencies, we identified 145 critical deficiencies requiring immediate action in Notices of Concern (NOCs) to U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ). Of note, based on our radiation measurements, the estimated individual annual doses at each USFJ installation tested were very low. At these levels, there are no demonstrable radiation–induced health effects.

Our overall findings for Japan installations were:

  • There was inadequate resources and diligence to inspect, maintain, and repair housing facilities.
  • Installation personnel did not ensure that fire protection systems were properly installed, periodically inspected, and maintained.
  • Installation personnel did not ensure that electrical systems were properly installed, periodically inspected, and maintained.
  • Installation personnel did not follow environmental regulations or best practices to ensure the health and safety of occupants, specifically with regard to mold and radon.
  • Housing management systems were not fully implemented and procedures were not always followed by installation personnel.

Recommendations

We recommend that the respective Military Departments, as applicable:

  • Conduct an effective root cause analysis and corrective action for all 1,057 deficiencies in this report.
  • Ensure that these deficiencies do not exist in other housing units.
  • Ensure the inspection, maintenance, and repair program is in compliance with applicable codes and standards.
  • Ensure that sufficient, qualified resources are available and assigned to inspect and verify that all housing buildings and units are in compliance with requirements.
  • Ensure that housing management systems and processes are fully implemented and followed for all installations.

We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD (AT&L)) include guidance, per EPA standards to ensure the health of the warfighter, for both accompanied and unaccompanied housing within the Overseas Environmental Baseline Guidance Document (OEBGD) for:

  • Control and remediation of mold.
  • Radon evaluation and mitigation.

Management Comments and Our Response

The PACOM, USFJ, Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force provided comments agreeing with all recommendations. These comments were fully responsive and we do not require additional comments with the exception of Finding A where individual base commands took exceptions to key deficiencies identified in the Notice of Concerns (See Tables F1, F2, and F3). Additional comments are required from the service components ensuring that they will coordinate with the base commands to address the NOC deficiencies.

OUSD (AT&L) disagreed with our recommendation that they provide policy and guidance for the control and remediation of mold and radon for accompanied and unaccompanied housing for the warfighter and their families. Therefore we strongly request that OUSD (AT&L) reconsider their position and provide additional comments. See the Management Comments section for full text of the responses to the draft report.

This report is a result of Project No. D2013-DT0TAD-0003.000.