eGov/Mil Newsletter: July 2, 2014
In this Issue:
- Is it Really the “Worst Summer EVER”?
- Help is available if moving this summer
- Ten-Day Short Fuse Criteria Scheduled to End July 13
- U.S. retailers nervous as West Coast port labor talks running out of time
- DOD & Government Personal Property News & Notes
- Davidson confirmed by Senate for second star
- Spaces for pets to fly overseas fill up fast
- Army Drawdown Continues: 1,100 Captains to Be Cut
- Army Fires Officers after Ordering Them to Move
In the last few weeks IAM staff has heard the phrase “worst summer ever” a number of times coming from government personal property types in regards to 2014. What’s that all about?
According to the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s (SDDC) own data we have seen a very slight drop in the number of shipments awarded during this peak season compared to the average over the last three years. Why then would this summer be so much worse?
What does the term “worst” mean to these folks anyway? Does it mean that they can’t easily get shipments booked? Does it mean that they are seeing more refusals than normal? Does it mean that the quality of service is down? Why is their frustration running so high?
Could any of this be a result of the fact that the national account and COD markets have seen a slight rebound this year? Could it be that driver shortages and capacity issues continue to be problematic for industry? Could it be that the current DP3 environment has caused some agents to move away from doing DOD business? Some areas are experiencing a two-week delay in the normal peak moving time because many schools have let out later in the year due to the harsh winter we experienced. Could that be a factor?
All of the above could be factors but we believe that this is just the normal reaction we see every summer when the DOD tries to force all of their shipments into a very narrow window. About 30-40 percent of their work is forced into a two-month window: mid-May to mid-July. The fact that they can’t get every shipment booked during that timeframe shouldn’t surprise anyone.
So what is the real reason for this angst? We believe that it may have to do with the issues that all of the DP3 stakeholders have experienced since the problems with Electronic Transportation Acquisition (ETA) portal and Defense Personal Property System (DPS) first surfaced on June 6. ETA acts as the security access point through which DP3 stakeholders gain access to DPS. Since that day ETA/DPS have had multiple instances of issues with stability, connectivity and timeouts. The industry and their service providers have developed tools which allow Transportation Service Providers (TSP) and Agents to continue to work during ETA/DPS outages. That is not true of the DOD personnel. When the system(s) is down for them they are in limbo until the system comes back up. We believe that these problems accessing the system during the busiest time of the year are the key to the high level of frustration which has caused a number within DOD to characterize 2014 as the worst summer ever.
Industry capacity is rarely an issue at any point on the calendar. Normally it’s only during Peak Season that the frustrations run high. IAM does not believe the frustration being expressed by some DOD personnel can solely be laid at the feet of industry. The frustration levels have been raised exponentially by the ETA/DPS troubles. That is what has made this summer different than others and might be the root problem leading them to believe that this summer will be one for the record books.
The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command wants to remind service members, civilians and their families how to get help, if needed, during a permanent change of station move this summer.
The summer months are the busiest time of the year for moving. The volume of household goods moves is extremely high and there is only a finite number of Department of Defense approved trucks and service providers available to do military moves.
"Our support to the Warfighter is the most important thing we do," said Brig. Gen. Susan A. Davidson, SDDC commanding general. "And that includes doing everything we can to help service members and their families during a PCS move."
This summer, at some locations, the average wait time for a mover to arrive and pick up a member's household goods shipment after booking can be as long as 60 days.
SDDC recommends giving your Installation Transportation Office (or Personal Property Shipping Office) the first opportunity to assist, as they are equipped to resolve a majority of issues that occur during peak moving season.
SDDC works with the military services and the commercial moving industry to anticipate and circumvent potential problem areas that could arise with personal property moves, especially during the peak moving season. Communications, including conference calls and webinars are a constant, with more frequent emphasis leading up to and throughout the peak season. The command also produces brochures and information updates for service members with advice for moving during the summer months.
"This summer is presenting a little different challenge for us than past summer moving seasons," said Terry Head, president of International Association of Movers. "First, we are experiencing a significant rise in corporate moves this year, as opposed to previous, which is adding more demand to our current capacity. Secondly, we are also seeing a two-week shift of our normal busiest peak moving time because many schools have let out later in the year due to the harsh winter we experienced."
After last year's peak season, SDDC hosted a "Hotwash" meeting with the services and moving industry to discuss issues and avoid repeat problems during this year's summer season. As a result, several changes to the Defense Personal Property Program, or DP3, were made to help increase the quality of service provided by the moving companies this year.
The most prominent change raises the carrier's performance score via the Customer Satisfaction Survey from 50 to 70 percent. The goal is to keep the best carriers in the program by awarding them future business. You can help improve your next PCS, as well as others, by completing the survey after your move.
SDDC also approved requests from the services to expand the 'short fused shipment' window from five to 10 days decreasing the workload of ITOs and PPSOs and allowing transportation service providers more flexibility to accept shipments and meet customer's needs.
In addition to filling out and sending in your CSS, SDDC officials recommend the following courses of action to receive timely assistance.
Service members can be better prepared during this busy summer by planning and coordinating their PCS move as soon as they get their orders, paying attention to detail when they complete their forms, and most important, remaining flexible throughout the moving process.
First, SDDC recommends giving your Installation Transportation Office (or Personal Property Shipping Office) the first opportunity to assist. In the majority of cases, they can solve many of the problems that might occur during a move. ITOs are involved with the household goods booking process and the selection of moving companies for customers. Even if your shipment is booked through the www.move.mil website, the local ITO, or PPSO, can assist with many of the challenges associated with personal property movements.
Remember the majority of issues will be best solved at the local level, and in many cases, SDDC experts will begin their effort to help by reengaging with the local ITO or PPSO, so it's important that the local level be exhausted before going to the email provided.
If issues can't be solved at the local level, service members can contact an SDDC representative via the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. A personal property expert will respond and provide appropriate help.
Davidson said she'll make sure her staff stays focused on providing first-class service, but wants to remind service members and their families that there are things they can do to help themselves.
SDDC provides the following tips to help make the moving experience better:
- Once you get orders, immediately start your moving process for a better chance to lock in your preferred pickup and delivery dates.
- Since requested pickup and delivery dates may not be immediately available during this time, flexibility is very important. Building extra time into your schedule for unforeseen circumstances is recommended.
- Requested pickup and delivery dates are not confirmed until you and your commercial carrier mutually agree on the actual pack and pick-up dates.
SDDC provides global deployment and distribution services to meet the nation's objectives and deploys/sustains about 90 percent of Department of Defense equipment and supplies by leveraging the capability of commercial industry and other military services.
The increase in the criteria used to determine what the SDDC considers a “short fuse” shipment changed from five to ten government business days (GBD) on May 23. In a message delivered to industry that same day, SDDC indicated the reason for the change was to “offset the increasing numbers of shipment refusals, reduce rebooking efforts at the PPSO level, and allow TSPs time to coordinate resources.”
We are now approaching the date given in the message for a return to the normal five-day criteria – July 13. SDDC indicated they will not “wind down” the short fuse criteria. On July 13 the criteria will immediately change from ten days to five days with no transition period. What impact will the immediate transition from ten to five days have on the industry, the Transportation Offices and military transferees?
On July 13 will the DOD shipment volumes have returned to levels that will not necessitate an extension of the ten day window?
Will shipment refusals have dropped to the point that Joint Personal Property Shipping Offices (JPPSO) and Personal Property Shipping Offices (PPSO) will be able to handle the workload?
When the criteria expanded to ten days, SDDC indicated in their message to industry that, “the day a PPSO awards the shipment will count as the first short fuse day.” Under the normal five-day criteria that had not been the case. The award day did NOT count as the first day so in essence the criteria was actually six GBD days.
Will the criteria return to its previous format or will SDDC continue to count the award date as the first day?
Based on an example from the SDDC message it appears that as of July 14 the award date will count as the first day in the five day criteria: “On 14 July, PPSO awards a shipment with a requested pickup date of 18 July 2014. This shipment will be awarded as a short fuse shipment. If a PPSO awards any shipment with a requested pickup date on or after 21 July 2014, these shipments will be considered standard shipments.”
IAM has been in discussions with SDDC on this topic and has asked for a clarification message to be issued. SDDC has agreed and indicated they will issue a message prior to July 13 to ensure that all stakeholders have the same understanding on how the return to the five-day criteria should work.
Source: IAM & SDDC
Editor’s Note: IAM has been following this story very closely. We understand the impact a work stoppage at some of the largest U.S. Ports could have on the international HHG shipping industry in both the commercial and DOD sectors.
We have been in contact with SDDC regarding the situation and continue to update them as more information has become available.
With peak shipping season approaching, U.S. retailers are anxiously monitoring labor negotiations affecting 20,000 workers at West Coast ports that handle more than 40 percent of goods shipped in ocean containers.
The six-year contract between dockworkers and the employers who operate port terminal and shipping lines expires on July 1 at 5 p.m. PDT (0000 GMT). It covers workers at 29 ports from California to Washington State, including major hubs in Los Angeles/Long Beach and Seattle/Tacoma.
August Traffic Distribution Lists
According to sources at SDDC, the August 1 Traffic Distribution Lists (TDL) should be available for viewing on or about July 25. The slight delay in releasing the list is tied to the extension granted for appeal submissions.
Announcing the NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting 2014
NDTA and USTRANSCOM are once again co-sponsoring a Fall Meeting at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, 28-30 October 2014. The purpose of the meeting is to stimulate wider interest and inquiry into technical and professional issues involving Department of Defense (DOD) transportation requirements. The meeting will provide information, training, and strategic overview for personnel of the DOD, and will also assist industry in anticipating and meeting future DOD needs.
To register and for more information, please visit the conference website.
In the past, SDDC has scheduled a Personal Property Forum (PPF) around that same timeframe (late October – early November). At this point SDDC has not provided any tentative dates for the fall PPF.
GSA CHAMP Pre-Bid Meeting Rescheduled
GSA has had to reschedule the annual CHAMP Pre-Bid meeting to the following date/time:
When: August 13, 2014 at 1:30 PM EST
Where: GSA Headquarters,1800 F Street NW, Auditorium, Washington, DC
Who: All approved CHAMP TSPs or those TSPs interested in CHAMP.
Due to an international meeting of leaders occurring in the Washington, DC area the week of August 6, 2014, Federal agencies have requested that GSA change the date of our annual CHAMP pre-bid meeting from August 6, 2014 to August 13, 2014.
GSA will send out the agenda and presenters to the pre-bid meeting in the near future.
We apologize for this inconvenience and short notice.
Sources: IAM, GSA, USTC, NDTA, SDDC & Daycos News
The Office of the Army Chief of Staff announced today, Brig. Gen. Susan A. Davidson, commanding general of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 25 for promotion to the rank of major general.
Davidson took command of SDDC during a change of command ceremony June 13 at Scott AFB.
Davidson has held a wide variety of command and staff positions. Among her previous assignments, she served as commander of SDDC's 599th Transportation Brigade, previously known as the 599th Transportation Group, at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. She also deployed during that assignment to simultaneously serve for six months as commander of the 595th Terminal Trans. Group in Kuwait, which is now known as the 595th Trans. Bde.
Davidson also served as SDDC's deputy commanding general/director of operations July 2011 to June 2012. That assignment and her current assignment, combined with her previous assignment at U.S. Transportation Command from 1999-2002, makes this her third tour at Scott AFB.
If you have a pet and are moving to or from an overseas location, remember that pet spaces on the Patriot Express fill up quickly in the summer months, according to a pet travel advisory issued by Air Mobility Command. If at all possible, you want to avoid having to fly your pet on commercial airlines, which is more expensive.
The Army drawdown continues this week, when about 1,100 Army captains will receive word that their military careers are about to end. Another 500 majors will get the same news in early July.
The cuts were planned by officer separation and early retirement boards that convened this spring to review 19,000 active-duty officers for possible early separation. It's all part of the Army's effort to smoothly trim down to a number that, thanks to federal budgetary uncertainty, remains unclear.
A U.S. Army captain with more than a dozen years in the service, including multiple tours of duty in combat zones, assumed his job was safe.
The non-commissioned officer-turned-officer knew the service was downsizing after more than a decade of war. But he figured he'd be one of the lucky ones, in part because of his tours in Bosnia, Kosovo and, most recently, Afghanistan. What's more, he had just received orders to move to a new duty station.