USTC J9 Stop Movement/COVID-19 Call (30 Jun)

June 30, 2020

The 30 June Stop Movement/COVID-19 call with USTC J9 led to some insightful updates from DoD.  Rick Marsh kicked off the call confirming the re-award of the GHC to ARC.  He was asked, based on the 3-week delay on the re-award of the GHC, did he envision that the start date of the execution of the contract (currently Feb ’21) would also be delayed?  Marsh stated that based on the potential for another GAO protest on the re-award, he did envision a delay to the start of moving the first shipments under the GHC.


He also mentioned the results of the Military Family Advisory Network survey of military families and veterans.  Marsh stated the survey is both disappointing in that there continue to be issues that the survey respondents see with the DP3 moving process (communication, claims, DPS itself); but he felt on the other hand, it highlighted areas of concern that USTC is already aware of and have initiatives designed to tackle those problems.  He also stated he was open to industry comments on how best to get after some of the identified “pain-points” and looked forward to hearing from industry members with good solutions.  Review the survey.


Below is a summary of the call, starting with the data slides:


  • On slide 1, data reflecting invoices pending line items over 3 GBDs, it was noted that due to a problem with Syncada passing invoices to DPS, those numbers would grow as there is currently a 4-day backlog of invoices the Services need to work.  During the call it was noted that Syncada resolved the issue, and invoices were flowing again.
  • Slide 2 Peak Season Demand model continues to show a robust number of shipments projected for movement.
  • Slide 3, refusals and blackouts…USTC J9 continues to communicate that the high refusal ratio, compared to a lagging blackout ratio, is problematic and if not corrected, could lead to a change in policy on refusals, how refusals are used, or whether they can be used at all.  Rick Marsh mentioned that IAM had sent a recommendation to him to extend refusals past the current July date since the peak season was extended to the right, but Marsh said that as things currently stand, he cannot see continuing the use of refusals past July unless we can find a way to take the stress and workload caused by refusals, off the PPSOs. He said he was not likely to extend refusals in the current environment.  J9 explained that for a PPSO to have visibility of a shipment that TSPs can’t service (due to no capacity), all TSPs must be eventually blacked out for that channel/COS. In that case, the PPSOs can take advantage of USTC’s manual booking capability.  If there are TSPs still using refusals for a shipment that has gone through the booking process 72 hours or 2,000 offers, then the shipment is not visible to PPSOs to process; and causes delays in servicing, or significant workload in tracking every shipment to see which ones did not get awarded.  J9 stressed again that if a TSP sees they’ve been offered the same shipment a hundred times, they need to go in and blackout that channel, or PPSOs will not be able to service the shipment in a timely manner.  This is the scenario leading to PPSO dissatisfaction with refusals.
  • On slide 3, J9 did note the offer handling time for shipments is currently below 5 hours, which is a good sign.
  • J9 mentioned they expanded short fuse from 5 to 10 days last Friday as an additional method for PPSOs to get shipments moved.
  • Slide 4 shows the status of punitive actions. There were a total of 48 suspensions the past week. Of those, 15 were COVID related (11 for face coverings; 4 for health protection protocol certificates); USTC said they were also seeing pockets of non-compliance with face coverings…specifically in some European areas; and they are addressing them.  J9 mentioned they appreciated timely notifications on COVID exposures.  And said there were a number of punitive actions being taken on accomplishing reweighs.
  • We asked for status on reweigh guidance both on when reweighs were required per IT20; and the meaning of the asterisked statement about reweighing at 7,000lbs.  We were told the responses were in coordination with the Services and they were consolidating answers to specific reweigh questions.


J9 stated there was “some excitement” in industry over their advisory concerning the Maersk Idaho and the impact of the COVID exposure.  They said they’ve seen delays to the Maersk Idaho to be anywhere from 5 to 7 days, depending on the port.  And in that case, those 5-7 days are outside the control of the TSPs, and that will be taken into consideration (not held against the TSP) for any punitive action or inconvenience claim associated with a TSP due to that 5-7 day delay. 


J9 reported that the increased Transit Times added due to COVID impacts were not applied to some additional channels beyond the ones previously discovered.  They are researching how many shipments are effected…how many haven’t been updated by either the TSP in coordination with the customer; or by the PPSO.  They are working out a plan for resolving those still not updated and will get out an advisory on the topic this week.


For those shipments the TSPs recognize that do not have the correct transit time, TSPs are asked to make a note of it in DPS to help flag it to the PPSOs; and/or contact the customer and PPSO to identify the issue and resolve it if possible.  J9 noted that a lot of potential shipments with wrong TTs have already been addressed by TSPs coordinating with customers on an agreed upon delivery date.


IAM stated we had seen inputs from overseas that appeared as though shipments coming out of Italy may be impacted by COVID-19; that we were shown a number of shipment cancellations; and asked J9 if they had any insight on a change to the situation in Italy.  They were not aware and said they would look into it.


J9 was asked how industry and DoD would react to shipments in transit when a former green state turned to yellow or red; were there any established protocols for how to handle those shipments? J9 stated that if a shipment was moving, then it was authorized to deliver. And that if that status changed, then industry would be made aware of it via having the shipment placed into SIT at destination. In that sense, there was no specific policy associated with that scenario due to COVID; it would be transparent to TSPs and the shipment would ordered into SIT.


J9 was questioned again as to whether a shipment could be delivered to someone who was in “quarantine”? J9 and the Services stated that if someone was in true isolation or quarantine, then shipments should not be delivered; but that the reality in many cases is that people are using the word quarantine loosely; and often, what people mean is that a customer is placed on a restriction of movement (ROM).  In that case, a shipment can be delivered.  Quarantine or isolation are for those cases when a customer has been exposed to COVID; or has likely been exposed.  ROM is for customers who may have moved to their current location from a non-green location, and have no reason to believe they’ve been exposed to COVID, but based on their previous location, are having their movement restricted as an added precaution.  DoD reps stated that if a shipment delivery has been approved, then the member is not in a true quarantine situation. 


AF PPA thanked the Associations for getting the word out on refusals…they do not want to do away with refusals, but need TSPs to blackout where they have no capacity so the process can work.  PPA also asked industry to continue to get the word out on face coverings.  As they said, while not a huge number, there were 11 suspensions due to face coverings, and DoD really needs everyone’s capacity; so would prefer not to issue suspensions; but need compliance with the face covering policy.


It was noted that due to the extension of peak season rates for 45 days, shipments awarded between 1 Oct and 15 Nov prior to the extension of peak rates, need to be pulled back and re-awarded with the new rates. The effected shipments are less than 200 total worldwide. 


Lt Col Lowery mentioned that USTC continues to update and improve the site.  Last month they focused on the customer portion of the page.  Starting in July, they are looking to make the portion of the website more user friendly for TSPs and PPSOs.