Hearing Wrap-Up: GSA: Army Fee Assistance Program

Published: Sep 10, 2015

Witnesses:

The Honorable Carol Fortine Ochoa, Inspector General, General Services Administration
Mr. Gerard Badorrek, Chief Financial Officer, General Services Administration
Ms. Stephanie L. Hoehne, Director, Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation G9, Installation Management Command, U.S. Army
Ms. Karmon Dyches, Army Captain appearing in personal capacity
Ms. Kaela Hensley, Army Spouse

TAKEAWAYS:

• The Army’s decision to transition the administration of its childcare program from a contractor to the General Service Administration (GSA) increased the net costs by over 50 percent, which equates to more than $8.4 million.
• While administering the childcare program, GSA deleted 4,000 voice messages, and an unknown number of e-mails. GSA CFO Mr. Badorrek confirmed that voicemails and e-mails are federal records. The Committee will look into any possible violation to the Federal Records Act.
• The U.S. Army senior executive responsible for the program, Ms. Stephanie Hoehne, testified that the childcare program “should be at a sustainable rate by December (2015),” and will not be managed by GSA beginning in 2016.
• GSA guaranteed they would pay all outstanding invoices within the next 30 days.

PURPOSE:

• To examine the administration of the Army Fee Assistance (AFA) program to ensure that Army families are well-served.
• To allow Committee members to hear perspectives from Army families who have filed formal complaints about the AFA, from the program owner – Army – and from the program administrator – General Services Administration (GSA).
• To provide the GSA Inspector General (IG) a chance to review its updated findings with Committee members.

BACKGROUND:

• The AFA program helps qualifying Army members with the cost of off-post child care when reasonable on-post child care is unavailable.
• Since 2003, the GSA has managed the AFA for approximately 200 families enrolled in federal childcare centers. In early 2014, the Army entered into an interagency agreement to place the entire AFA program—approximately 10,000 families—under GSA’s administration.
• On April 27, 2015, the IG warned GSA about program shortcomings in a Management Alert Report. Included in the IG’s findings:

  • GSA developed a significant backlog that, as of January 2015, totaled over 11,500 childcare subsidy actionable items awaiting processing. The backlog included over 5,000 family actions unprocessed, over 3,000 e-mails unanswered, and over 3,500 phone messages unreturned.
  • Army families’ sensitive information, including personally-identifiable information (PII), was put at risk due to instances of GSA contractor personnel being given access to systems and information prior to completing: background investigations or fingerprint checks; privacy training required by GSA policy, and non-disclosure agreements required by the contract.

 

KEY VIDEOS:

Chairman Chaffetz: “I’m talking about the thousands of Army families, men and women, who have young children. What are you going to do to make their life right?”

Rep. Mica: “I don’t think we should pay 50% of the bills. I think you should pay the damn bills. Pay the 9,000 invoices. I’ll send my staff down there to help you do it.”



Rep. Hice
: “What kind of time frame are we looking at? We have families out here suffering. We don’t need to drag this thing out for months and months.”