USTRANSCOM Commander Meets with Moving Industry Reps to Improve PCS Move Quality – An Industry Perspective
On Tuesday, March 19th, USTRANSCOM (USTC) Public Affairs published a press release highlighting GEN Lyons’ meeting with CEOs from various moving companies who support DoD household goods movement, and a separate meeting with moving industry trade associations. Industry members who attended do not feel the press release is an accurate account of the events of those meetings.
Industry members who attended the USTC meetings believe the tone of the press release implied industry’s support to the general’s decision to award a contract to a single provider. To be clear, most of DoD’s current household goods service providers do not support this initiative.
Industry leaders completely agree that our mutual goal is to provide our military members with the best move possible. However, industry was under the impression the meeting was convened to open dialogue at a senior level between the moving industry and USTRANSCOM on how best to provide service members with “quality at the curb.” Based on the USTRANSCOM press release, most of the industry attendees felt their voices were collectively ignored and that the meeting may have been used as an opportunity to put a pre-ordained spin on the Global Household Goods contracting effort. The vast majority of the DoD moving and storage industry believes this initiative will negatively impact the existing DOD household goods infrastructure and doesn’t actually take the necessary steps to provide the increased quality capacity championed by the General.
There are two specific statements in the press release that moving industry attendees felt were inaccurate. The first statement was, “Industry and DoD leaders agree the existing model no longer makes sense.” No industry or association attendee at either meeting agreed that the current model “no longer makes sense.” However, nearly everyone offered ideas on how the current model could be improved to benefit the program. Additionally, most of the attendees actually stated that the single-source contract model would work against the general’s desired outcome.
Additionally, the statement, “package carriers’ scale capacity to manage holiday demand” ignores a number of realities associated both with package carriers and with DoD’s moving industry service providers. Like package carriers, every peak season, the moving industry hires additional staff and crews to meet peak demand, and expands their network as needed by hiring freight truck drivers to haul household goods to increase trucking capacity. And, like package carriers during the holiday season, when any system operates at maximum capacity, it is susceptible to a degradation of quality when a problem occurs in the network. Everyone who orders a product online during the holidays knows that if you don’t order before a certain date, your order won’t arrive when you want it to. The moving industry operates under the same constraint. And, like package carriers, when capacity is tight, a small disruption will have a ripple effect on the network when there is no additional capacity to pick up the slack.
To read IAM’s full perspective on equating movers with “package carriers,” please read the position paper on the IAM website.
Most DoD moving industry service providers believe they have the expertise to make significant improvements in the current program without the DoD risking the existing committed capacity. Industry representatives continue to advocate for a high-level working group made up of DoD leaders, industry experts, and DoD customer representatives that can work together on a continual basis to help improve the moving experience for service members. This approach has significantly less risk to customers than the current unproven initiative (which has failed in multiple smaller scale tests in the past), which puts the majority of the program in the hands of a single contractor. Once DoD heads down its intended path, there is no backup plan if it fails to provide the current level of service or even maintain the current level of capacity DoD now enjoys.
This move towards the complete privatization of both the DoD and industry household goods infrastructures is ill-fated and involves tremendous risks, especially to small businesses and to service members and their families. Rather than bringing about increased capacity, this initiative will very likely have exactly the opposite effect. Needed capacity will be reduced, and will be impossible to recapture once lost.