Room rates rising as Pentagon cuts taxpayer funding for base lodging
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 10, 2019
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Lodging at many U.S. military bases worldwide is getting pricier due to a Pentagon requirement that such facilities become self-sustaining.
Rates could go up as much as $75 a night, with variations by service, location and room type, according to military officials.
The change comes as the Pentagon looks to make business operations more efficient and free up funds, as spelled out in Defense Department guidance issued to the services late last year.
Beginning in October, military lodging programs won’t be supported by taxpayer dollars. Base lodges will have to use income generated from nightly room fees for all operations.
Appropriated funds may be authorized in limited cases, such as to restore a facility “destroyed by acts of God, fire or terrorism,” or to accommodate a mission change or influx of new units.
Services may no longer assign military personnel to work at lodging, as all employees must be paid through nonappropriated funds.
The Air Force says the service is in the process of reassigning airmen working in its lodging.
Exceptions to the new guidance include morale, welfare and recreation recreational lodging; military treatment facility lodging, including Fisher Houses; and privatized lodging facilities.
Air Force base lodging rates went up Jan. 1, service officials announced this week. They said to expect more increases.
The smallest increase is to large distinguished visiting quarters, a jump from $75 to $83 a day. Other rate increases include: airman quarters ($44 to $55), officer quarters ($60 to $70), temporary lodging facilities ($63 to $77) and distinguished visiting quarters ($69 to $79).
Rates are standard across the Air Force and also apply to rooms booked for non-official travel.
The Air Force said the rate increase is within per diem levels, but if a location has a lower per diem rate, overnight fees will be dropped to match it.
At Navy Gateway Inns and Suites, rates went up Oct. 1 and adjustments vary based on location, officials said.
In the Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia regions, rates increased $11 to $31 per night, depending on room type, according to a Navy statement.
The rate at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii increased an average of $45 a night, Debra Couch, a Navy region lodging director, said in a statement.
The increase “is mid-range compared to the DOD expected range of increase from $1 to $75 a night,” she said.
Rates at U.S.-based Army lodges likely won’t be affected by the new Pentagon guidance because the service turned operations over to private companies a decade ago to save money and modernize facilities. It remains unclear whether the Army’s overseas lodges will raise prices.
Congress authorized the services to privatize lodging facilities in 2002. The Army began to do so in 2009.
The other services chose not to privatize at the time, fearing higher room rates, according to a Pentagon watchdog report from 2010.