USTC J9 Stop Movement/COVID-19 Call (21 April)
USTC J9 held their Stop Movement Update call on April 21. USTC Deputy Commander, VADM Mewbourne was on the call, along with the J9 Director, Rick Marsh, and a number of the J9 staff.
VADM Mewbourne kicked things off discussing the SECDEF’s intent on protection screening for families who continue to move their HHGs as an exception or exemption to the Stop Movement Order. He was looking for industry input to help him shape conversation with the SECDEF on how to implement the SECDEF’s intent.
The SECDEF believes the current exception policy puts the burden on the family/service member to make sure they are properly protected from exposure to the virus; that movers have protective masks, aren’t or haven’t recently been sick or have a cough or a recent fever. Moving forward under the new Stop Movement order, SECDEF wants to take that burden off the service member/family, and put it somewhere else…have someone taking temperatures, verifying protective equipment, health of movers before the commencement of a pack/unpack, pickup/delivery. VADM Mewbourne asked TSPs their thoughts on a decentralized approach (letting each Service decide how they would implement this policy, how they would man it, execute it, etc). Or if people thought a centralized approach was more effective…have USTC or DOD execute a contract for a company to do this on behalf of DOD. Discussion followed with more questions and concerns than answers.
J9 covered their “Placemat” data. Many on the call hadn’t received the slides. I haven’t received them to include it here. Generally, they reported that week by week pickups are happening at an approximate rate of 30% when compared to 2019.
J9 staff also stated the new Stop Movement order gives more leverage to the Services to exempt or provide exceptions to more household goods shipments than the previous order. When asked to articulate where in the order this intent is included, both Danny Martinez and VADM Mewbourne provided an input. They both felt the message provided additional areas that do not require a waiver…specifically that retirees and separatees are now specifically included, members going to their first duty station, members with medical waivers. They stated the order specifically mentions deliveries could continue; and people intransit, not yet at destination, could also continue on. I’m not certain those areas provide a significant boost to getting more shipments moved; and VADM Mewbourne conceded it might not lead to much more in terms of volume of shipments. But stated that is really up to the Services and their implementation.
When J9 was asked how the new Stop Movement order might impact how the Services implement the new order, J9 turned the question over to each Service to respond. The Army mentioned they were still working with the Personnel staffs to decide how they would move forward, and so couldn’t provide specifics yet. Army said they were looking at Service Schools and some additional areas; but they were pausing right now and waiting for additional guidance before saying much. He did say those with approved exceptions would continue on.
The Navy commented they were not changing their guidance. They would still use the same process. They stated that shipments already booked without an exception would not be pulled back. Instead they’d have the member coordinate with the TSP to move the shipment outside the extended Stop Movement window…after 30 June…therefore the TSP would not lose their shipment.
The Air Force was not on the call.
The Coast Guard said they continue to move personnel as before, and that they re-evaluate every two weeks to ensure they are still being safe with moves.
The new updated policy for each Service will be issued in another version of Advisory #20-0058. USTC will give the Services the next couple of days to get inputs from their individual Service and hopes to put out the new guidance by Friday, if possible.
J9 mentioned that USTC-Europe, USTC-Pacific, and HQ J9 staff all have a weekly PPSO call in their AOR to discuss issues/concerns. Of note, it was mentioned that there were issues arising in Qatar where the government was not allowing the two approved agents to support DoD shipments; and local nationals on the local PPSO staff were also not allowed to work; and this was clearly having an impact on getting shipments moved…and the staff was engaged and working the issue.
The Army mentioned, based on the last call where it was reported that Ft Bragg denied installation access to a driver who, when asked if he had traveled through New England, reported that yes he had…they were engaging with Army installations to discuss installation access policy and they would share the outcome of those calls with USTC to pass along.
J9 was asked when Change 4 to the 2019 400NG and IT would be out, explaining how to invoice for the 10% surcharge. J9 stated that assuming there are no more changes/additions to the current guidance on what is included in the 10%, it should be out by this Friday.
When asked whether USTC had considered whether to include delivery out of SIT as a part of the 10% invoice adjustment, Mr. Marsh stated he had thought about this topic since last week, and does not understand the justification for why some believe it should be included. He asked for additional justification if anyone had it, but said he generally felt like their current guidance meets the intent of what they planned to cover. He said he thinks they have “an inclusive approach right now.”