Services disrupted by Army-wide policy changes
May 23, 2006
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A U.S. Army policy change in approving contracts at military bases has caused a gap in some services provided by the Army’s Installation Management Agency, according to military officials in Washington, D.C., and Seoul.
The policy change came from the secretary of the Army. It required service contracts and civilian hires for component commands, such as the management agency, to be approved at headquarters rather than the regional level, according to Ned Christensen, an IMA spokesman at the agency’s headquarters in Virginia.
“This direction applies to all services that are not emergency-essential or in direct support of the global war on terrorism,” Christensen wrote in an e-mail in response to questions about the contracts.
“The first resourcing priorities are equipping soldiers in harm’s way and positioning the Army to respond to future threats with agility and lethality,” he wrote. “Commanders are encouraged to expedite the approval process so as to minimize service disruption.” What services have been affected, both at Yongsan Garrison and at other bases, is unclear.
Military spokesmen from the management agency’s headquarters and from the Korea Regional Office Installation Management Agency have said repeatedly during the past few weeks that they are unable to provide details about services that have been affected.
As of late April, about 900 service contracts had been submitted to the agency’s headquarters for approval, with about a third of them either emergency approved, approved or withdrawn, according to Christensen.
In Korea in late April, about a third of the 28 total contracts had been acted upon, he wrote. Early in April, an Army garrison commander in Seoul explained to a group of military residents that certain contracts were on hold.
“Contracts are frozen,” Area II Support Activity Commander Col. Ron Stephens said in response to one question about a resident getting a clothes dryer replaced. “That contract, at the moment, doesn’t exist.”
When asked about the contracts, local KORO spokesman John Nowell said there was no hold-up or delayed contract involving furniture moving or replacement that he could find. Christensen also declined to release additional information about the South Korea contracts.