Military Failed to Conduct Background Checks on Civilians in Base Housing, Putting Troops at Risk

Editor’s Note: It’s now been a year since this news broke. Have you seen this happening at your own duty station? Have any of your concerns come to light? Would you make any changes?


Military officials have been taking an “unnecessary safety and security risk to military personnel, their dependents…and assets” by not properly screening civilian tenants who apply to live in privatized housing on base, the Defense Department Inspector General has found.

In some cases, that included failing to conduct criminal background checks at one of the Defense Department’s most highly classified sensitive installations, Fort Detrick, Maryland, home to the military’s chemical and biological research programs.

“The consequences of unauthorized access to these types of facilities could be catastrophic,” the Inspector General auditors wrote.
According to the report, some of the tenants also received access badges that expired after their lease is ended, including some that exceeded the lease termination date by six months or more.

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In addition to Fort Detrick, IG auditors reviewed the records at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana; and Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

They found that of the 128 general public tenants they reviewed, 120 received unescorted access to their base without the required background checks, and 61 received access badges that expired after the lease termination dates.

At Fort Detrick, none of the 26 tenants reviewed had undergone complete background checks; and at Barksdale, 93 of 95 tenants had incomplete or no background checks. At Mayport, almost all had completed background checks – six out of seven tenants reviewed.
The auditors recommended that the Army, Navy and Air Force conduct a review of all general public tenants who are leasing privatized housing anywhere, to make sure they received complete and adequate background checks.
The services should also instruct security officials to conduct a badge review to ensure that general public tenants’ badges are aligned with their lease terms.

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Service members assigned to military installations have priority to live in privatized family housing on that installation. But if a certain number of housing units are vacant for a certain period, the private company can start to lease the units to other eligible tenants, depending on the installation.At these facilities, the order of priority includes: service members not assigned to the installation, National Guard and reserve members, federal government civilians, retired military, retired federal government civilians, contractors, and last, the general public.

DoD IG spokeswoman Kathie Scarrah said that military officials have since completed background checks on all individuals in the audit who still living at the installations.

Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at