eGov/Mil Newsletter: September 12, 2014

September 12, 2014

In this Issue:

  • Peak Season 2014 “Hotwash” Summary
  • AMSA Requests Exemption to HOS Rules
  • Amid Layoffs, Uncertainty Pervades Air Force Officer Corps
  • DOD Claims New Contractor Delivering More Overseas Vehicles on Time
  • DOD & Government Personal Property News & Notes

Peak Season 2014 “Hotwash” Summary

Editor’s Note: This is a slightly expanded version of an item that was posted in the IAM Social Café on September 11. It includes a number of additional discussion topics from the Hotwash. Be sure to check the Social Café every day for the latest DOD/Government news.

On September 10, SDDC held its annual Peak Season “Hotwash” to review the issues that surfaced during this summer’s peak season. The goal is to discuss the positives and negatives that were identified by both the DOD and the industry and use the lessons learned to plot a way ahead for the following year. The all-day meeting covered a myriad of topics and provided the opportunity for all of the stakeholders to express their views on the current status of the Defense Personal Property Program (DP3).​ 

Most of the key DP3 stakeholder groups were involved in the meeting. Capt. Aaron Stanley, SDDC Director of Personal Property, led the meeting and was joined by two of his team leads – John Becker, Rates Team Lead, and David Jones, Quality Assurance Team Lead. At least one representative from the DPS Program Management Office, each of the Military Services, U.S. Transportation Command, the Air Force Personal Property Activity, JPPSO-MA (Belvoir), JPPSO-NW (Fort Lewis), Army Sustainment Command (ASC), AMSA and IAM attended the meeting.

Capt. Stanley opened the meeting with a discussion regarding SDDC’s desire to bring consistency to the area of Quality Assurance at SDDC. He discussed the number of punitive actions/revocations taken and NOT taken by SDDC in 2014 and the Command’s desire to treat all DP3 participants in the same manner for similar issues. He also addressed the military services regarding the need to bring accountability and consistency to the way their PPSOs and JPPSOs issued punitive actions (LOW & LOS). SDDC hopes to collect data on the types of LOW and LOS issued by the shipping offices as well as the length of any suspension actions taken in hopes of bringing great fidelity/clarity to the services regarding the actions they are taking. Preliminary data gathered by SDDC indicates that many of the shipping office’s actions are taken for “administrative” issues rather than transportation-related problems.

A number of the recent SDDC revocation actions have related to financial report violations, in particular related to financial ratios. Some TSPs have indicated that the way they have reported their financial position in the past is no longer considered viable and that is what caused them to run afoul of the ratio guidelines. IAM requested that SDDC share whatever new perspectives/guidelines they are taking regarding the reporting of financial information. This needs to be completely transparent so that all within industry are aware of proper ways to present their financial information.

A view of the metrics coming out of the Peak Season shows the following shipment award information:

Data for shipments awarded May 15 – August 31 shows a total of 158, 737 shipments.

  • dHHG – 84,823 (53.5%)
  • iHHG – 44,498 (28.0%)
  • iUB – 29,416 ( 18.5%)

Overall, the summer of 2014 showed a small increase in total shipment awards (158,737) over the Peak Season average of the previous two years (156,384).

IAM stressed to Capt. Stanley the need for SDDC to provide greater visibility of shipment data year round. TSPs are having to act/react to changes in a vacuum. He promised to go back to his staff and determine the level of effort that would be needed to provide, at a bare minimum, shipment volume data year round on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Specific Discussion topics:

Long Delivery from SIT – The focus on this topic included two different issues. The first, raised by SDDC and the services, dealt with long deliveries in which the difference between base point city zip codes would indicate a long delivery from SIT was viable but the actual DTOD miles when measure between the SIT location and the actual delivery point were not more than 50 miles. IAM pointed out that there are situations in which the reverse is true. The actual DTOD miles are more than 50 miles but the base point city calculation will not allow for a long delivery. When the use of base point cities were first put in place all stakeholders realized there would be situations like this and all agree that over time these situations would even out. It appears no changes to the current practice will come out of that discussion.

The second situation, raised by IAM, occurs when there is no approved SIT facility within 50 miles of the GBL Block 18 location. A TSP has no choice but to store the shipment in a facility that will then force a deliver beyond 50 miles, but historically many shipping offices have not approved long deliveries in these situations. After a long discussion on the merits of this situation SDDC agreed to look at other types of compensation that may be approved to help compensate an agent for these types of deliveries.

Missed RDDs – The level of concern for missed RDDs is very high within the military services. Anecdotally, they believe that there was a higher incidence of missed RDDs this summer. SDDC just completed some preliminary data analysis and it seems to indicate that, year over year May through July, missed RDDs are up five percent. This data is impacted by many factors. It was unclear how shipments delivering out of SIT were factored into the determination. SIT at origin shipment generate new RDDs and how this factored in was also not determined.

The driver shortages, the need for a higher percentage of agent pickups (APU), increased crate & freight, and alternative transportation usage and port/customs issues were discussed as factors which may have resulted in what is perceived as an increase in missed RDD. But suffice it to say the services are very concerned about this phenomenon. It can be assumed that missed RDDs will face increased scrutiny and, moving forward, the likelihood of punitive action being taken by shipping offices is very high.

Another related topic that is high on both SDDC’s and the services’ radar is TSPs not closing out shipments by putting the “delivery final” in DPS. They are concerned that it skews data on things like RDDs and it also prohibits a member from filing a claim in DPS. This is another issue that will see greater scrutiny in the future, and if a pattern is identified, may result in punitive action being taken.

There is also a perception within DOD that many TSPs are not communicating well with military transferees, particularly when shipments are going to arrive past an RDD or the member’s expected delivery. Proper communication between TSPs and members is another area that will be closely monitored in the future.

Air Force even proposed giving the PPSO the ability to provide TSPs shipment ratings as part of the CSS in order to give PPSOs a voice in quality determination. That proposal did not gain much traction.

Proposed shift in the start of the DP3 Annual Cycle – Concerns were voiced over problems that have resulted in the rate filing process or the last few years. Those problems delay the start of booking shipments for the peak season and thus have cause backlogs and workload issues at the PPSOs. The Navy suggested moving the Annual Cycle to another point on the calendar to help alleviate this problem, possibly to coincide with the calendar year.

If the DP3 Annual Cycle began January 1 and rate filing was held in the November timeframe, then as the calendar moved toward the peak season, rates will have been in place for some time and early booking of peak season shipments would be able to proceed without fear of interruption. SDDC and the DPS Program Office promise to take that on as a tasking to review what program or system changes would be necessary to implement a change to the start of the Annual Cycle. At first glance this would appear to be a move in a positive direction.

Invoice Approval delays – This issue was discussed with JPPSO-MA (Belvoir) sitting in the room. They have been identified as the major problem center for invoice approvals. They indicated their manning levels are at 52 percent of capacity and it is always challenging for them to keep up with the invoice approval workload. They are shifting more manpower from other areas to address the current backlog and hope to have it cleared up in the next two weeks.

JPPSO-HI, Norfolk and a few other installations were also identified as having issues and the service agreed to make invoice approval a priority in the next few weeks.

DPS

This summer’s problems with ETA were discussed and hopefully those issues are behind us.

The report coming from the DPS Program Management Office (PMO) regarding DPS development was not a very positive one. Their new contractor, CACI, has been on contract for less than a year and is well behind the forecasted schedule for enhancements to DPS. CACI is also behind in the building of their development environments, which are where DPS enhancements are tested. But after a number of delays, actions are being taken by the government, the contractor and the DPS PMO, and they feel they are poised to turn their issues around.

The next critical system issue facing the industry is a revamp of the rate filing module within DPS. The current schedule has the new module going into DPS on December 19 of this year. That is fewer than two months before the 2015 rate filing is scheduled to begin. From the discussion that took place on this issue, it appears that there is concern from all stakeholders that this change may or may not occur on time. Development of the new module is ongoing and the first version is to be delivered to the DPS PMO for review on or about October 1. The Association was promised that when user acceptance testing begins, sometime in November, that a few industry testers would be given at least a few days to try the new software and provide feedback. We were assured that this new module would be a great deal more user friendly and provide all of the functionality, and more, that is presently provided in the current module. Even though the current commercial off-the-shelf software (Manugistics) is no longer supported by the manufacturer, the DPS PMO was confident that if the new product was not ready, Manugistics could still be made available for the 2015 rate filing.

The issues surrounding the new contractor have caused delays in many expected system enhancements. Though no formal scheduled for FY 2015, which begins October 1, has been released, it appears that the ability to upload imaged documents into DPS will be available in late 2015, as well as a new user role matrix. We have asked that the industry be allow input on the user role matrix, since we have asked for a number of changes, i.e., the general agent user role in particular, for a number of years.

Software change request 6975, which is critical for both the services and the industry, will allow refused shipments to automatically be offered to the next TSP with PPSO interaction. The services have been asking for this new functionality for almost two years. It appears this will be coming in 2015 but it is unclear if it will be added to the system in advance of the 2015 peak season.

The lack of this functionality is what has caused a huge increase in PPSO workload and has resulted in the services pushing for increasing the short fuse window from five days to 10 during peak season. All of the Hotwash attendees expressed the desire to have this capability added to DPS as quickly as possible. This also has resulted in PPSOs using outside-the-box solutions to try to get shipments booked. Some of these solutions have resulted in unforeseen problems for TSPs, particularly when it comes to the proper billing of shipments.

As a result of the possibility of not having this functionality in place before peak season, the services, particularly the Air Force, have asked that SDDC implement the increased short fuse criteria starting May 15. They propose that the short fuse criteria be increased by one day starting on May 15 until it reaches 10 days. If SCR 6975 is not implemented before the Peak Season, then the feeling is that SDDC will agree to the Air Force proposal and that some form of the expanded short fuse window will be in place from May 15 until well after July 4.

Short Fuse Shipment Click Count – Recently there has been some confusion regarding what the actual rules are regarding the number of “clicks” each TSP can make in the short fuse queue per hour. The rules on the Move.mil website indicate, “The DPS Short fuse page will be limited to a more restrictive 50 hits/hour per TSP for Short Fuse hits (equivalent of 2 TSP DPS accounts at previous levels).” Recently, SDDC personnel have been contacting TSPs that they deem to have exceeded the click count but have indicated that the rules allow 100 clicks/hits per hour per TSP vs. the 50 clicks per hour as indicated on Move.mil. Some punitive actions have been taken that have led IAM to pose the question to SDDC in writing and then again at the Hotwash: what are current the click count rules? We need to have a definitive answer, especially in light of the fact that SDDC has started to take action against some TSPs for exceeding what is a very unclear rule.

Capt. Stanley and the DPS PMO promised to issue clear guidance on this issue.

Unlimited refusals - Much of the discussion that took place regarding unlimited refusals was tied to the short fuse window expansion. But many of the stakeholders felt that if unlimited refusals were positive during the peak season, then why not, for consistency’s sake, allow them year round. SDDC once again plans to consider that as a possibility.

Alcohol in DOD international shipments – In the past year there has been an ongoing debate regarding who is responsible for paying for any customs fees related to the import of alcohol in DOD shipments. Industry had always understood that any excess charges related to the importation of alcohol would be paid by the military member.

Approximately a year ago a question regarding which party was responsible for paying fees related to the use of a customs broker for clearance of a shipment containing alcohol was raised to SDDC. The SDDC personnel that reviewed the question communicated to the military transferee and their origin PPSO that customs broker fees were a TSP’s responsibility because they were making the choice to use a broker for their own convenience.

IAM has argued for some time that the use of a Broker was not for convenience but was being mandated by U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

This issued was discussed at the Hotwash and the general feeling among all of the military services was that any charges associated with the movement of alcohol were the military member’s responsibility.

SDDC promised to review its current internal guidance and clarify for the industry as quickly as possible.

Base Access – This is a major area of concern for all DOD and industry stakeholders. All of the attendees felt there was a critical need for standardization on this front. It is a cost driver for everyone. Unfortunately, though SDDC is part of ongoing discussions on this topic, Capt. Stanley firmly indicated that they are not the decision makers in the area of base security. IAM and SDDC will continue to influence the Office of the Secretary of Defense and other key organizations to push for standardized procedures for base access across all DOD installations.

Many other issues were discussed and very positive dialog was shared but no concrete decision came out of the meeting. SDDC promised to continue to dialog on all of the issues at both the 2014 IAM Annual Meeting and the next Personal Property Forum, which is tentatively scheduled for November 18 in the Scott AFB area.

Source: IAM, DPS PMO & SDDC

AMSA Requests Exemption to HOS Rules

The American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) has made a request to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to allow an exemption from the current Hours of Service (HOS) 14-hour rule when a household goods motor carrier is stuck at a residence when their 14 hours of consecutive on-duty time has expired.

On face value, the International Association of Movers fully supports the AMSA exemption request, especially as it relates to driver safety and the security of cargo. However, the exemption request, as it is described in a current Federal Register Notice dated September 9, 2014, seems to only request the exemption for AMSA members. The request begins:

FMCSA announces that the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) has applied for an exemption for its 3,700 member companies from FMCSA's regulation prohibiting operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) from driving following the 14th hour after coming on duty.

If granted, this exemption must cover all FMCSA registered household goods CMVs, and not just AMSA members.

IAM requests that all its U.S. members that are licensed FMCSA household motor carriers or freight forwarders, respond positively to the AMSA request with the caveat that the exemption must apply to all FMCSA registered household goods commercial motor vehicles.

Source: IAM, AMSA & FMCSA

Amid Layoffs, Uncertainty Pervades Air Force Officer Corps

For the first time in her nearly 27 years in the Air Force, Maj. Teresa Rivers faced a board of officers this summer who debated whether she should be retired from the service.

Rivers, 46, an acquisition manager near Fort Belvoir, Virginia, who specializes in information technology and software programs, said the panel ultimately decided to let her stay in uniform. But the prior enlisted member has noticed a change in the outlooks of her colleagues in recent months as the service detailed plans to downsize the force.

Read the full story.

DOD Claims New Contractor Delivering More Overseas Vehicles on Time

Delivery times of privately owned vehicles shipped to and from overseas bases by a Defense Department contractor appear finally to be improving after months of chronically late deliveries and complaints that service members' cars have been lost in the shipping system, officials said Thursday.

Read the full story.

DOD & Government Personal Property News & Notes

Items from the September SDDC News “U” Can Use Newsletter

PPSO's Responsibility to Respond to TSP Letter of Warning/Letter of Suspension Appeal

PPSOs are reminded that they have 15 days to respond to TSPs in writing to either accept/grant approval or deny a TSP’s appeal for a LOW/LOS. PPSOs must inform the TSPs that the appeal is granted or provide a specific reason (provide facts and evidence) for its denial. TSPs may be reinstated if the PPSO does not respond 15 days from the TSP’s appeal email or correspondence date.

Inconvenience Claims

When necessary, the PPSO is required to provide guidance and resolve inconvenience claim disputes between TSPs and customers. PPSOs are in the best position to explain to the member that inconvenience claims are for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses that relate directly to relieving a definite hardship when establishing their household. For additional guidance, see Defense Travel Regulation, Part IV, Chapter 401, Para G4F and Appendix B Tender of Service B13.

PPSOs unable to settle disputes should forward a COMPLETE appeal package to HQ SDDC PP QA, usarmy.scott.sddc.mbx.omb-for-pp-perf@mail.mil.  

Package must include:

  • Members initial claim letter
  • List of items claimed, dates, and times (similar to filing a travel voucher)
  • RECEIPTS of all items claimed
  • TSPs reply to member on settlement
  • PPSOs appeal to TSP
  • TSPs reply to PPSO
  • PPSO’s recommendation to SDDC for resolution

 

New DOD E-mail Format

In the past year most of the military services have moved to a new e-mail format for their uniformed personnel, DOD civilians and contractors.

Normally email addresses will consist of:

  • First name
  • Middle initial
  • Last name & a number (dependent upon how many people there may be with the same first name, middle initial and last name)
  • Either “mil” (uniformed military), “civ” (civilian DOD employee) or “ctr” (contractor)

All of these elements will be separated by periods and finish with a “@mail.mil” designation.

Examples – john.z.jones.civ@mail.mil or john.q.jones27.ctr@mail.mil or john.y.jones33.mil@mail.mil

Fuel Surcharge for Period 9/15/14 – 10/14/14

The price of fuel was $3.81 per gallon as reported on Monday, September 1, 2014 making the upcoming FSC rates for the period 9/15/14 through 10/14/14 as follows:

  • GBL Domestic HHG / International HHG– 11%
  • GSA Domestic HHG – $0.81
  • GSA International HHG and BAG – $0.81

Fall PPF

SDDC provided IAM with a tentative date for the Fall Personal Property Forum (PPF). The meeting is being planned for November 18, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The SDDC Personal Property Directorate is waiting for final approval for the meeting from the SDDC Commanding General.

Once finalized, IAM and AMSA will schedule a Pre-PPF meeting on the 17th which will begin at 4:00 p.m.

A final decision on where the meeting will be held is still pending, however it is very likely it will once again be held at the Four Points Sheraton in Fairview Heights, IL.

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.

Register and get more information on the NDTA website.

Sources:  IAM, NDTA & SDDC