Taking the Temp of Non-Temp Storage
Big changes are in the works in the world of the DOD Non-Temporary Storage (NTS) program that possess the ability to have major impacts to both NTS Transportation Service Providers (TSPs) and DOD-approved Personal Property TSPs alike. The United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), who manages the DOD’s Personal Property Program (DP3) recently posted their 2021 NTS Tender of Service (TOS) updated Draft on March 1, 2021 on their webpage www.move.mil/sme. Comments from the industry were due by March 26, 2021. While there are significant changes to the NTS TOS working their way to fruition, it’s what IS NOT in this NTS TOS draft that has the potential to change, and even eliminate the Non-Temp Storage world as we know it today, for those companies that provide NTS storage services to the DOD.
Below are some of the highlights from the NTS TOS Draft. For a complete list of updates, please read the entire NTS TOS Draft on the www.move.mil/sme page.
7 Day Load Spread: Initially, the update included the same language as the Personal Property Business Rules allowing for a seven-day load spread. However, according to USTC at the Personal Property Forum (PPF), due to the constraints of the legacy Personal Property system, TOPS, and other issues cited by the Storage Management Office (SMO), the seven-day load spread section will be removed from the updated NTS TOS.
Force Protection: The same protocols in place in the Personal Property Business Rules are being incorporated into the NTS TOS regarding procedures surrounding the current Covid 19 pandemic. There are requirements for notifications and precautions to be taken by NTS TSPs. Industry has requested that these same rules are clearly stated as a requirement to the Service Member and their families.
Reweighs: Reweigh requirements that are currently in the 400NG are being incorporated into the NTS TOS. They involve automatic reweighs when shipments meet certain criteria as well as ordered reweighs. For a complete list of these requirements, please see the latest 400NG tariff. Industry has asked that these rules be placed into the NTS TOS and not just have the requirement included by reference. Also in this section is the statement, “I will provide amended invoices to the government covering periods of storage that were paid at a higher or lower weight.” On its face this statement clearly allows for a NTS TSP to amend all invoices based on weight and invoice for a higher amount should the reweigh weight be higher than the original weight. Industry has asked for verification of this interpretation.
Burden of Proof: The NTS TSP must coordinate with the customer to verify all appliances and electronics being stored are working. Mechanical Condition Unknown or “MCU” as a description on an inventory can only be used if the customer either cannot or will not coordinate the inspection with the NTS TSP. This means NTS TSP’s are being required to certify that all appliances and electronics are working prior to taking possession. This likely would lead to vast amounts of time dedicated to observing items being turned on and off, cycling through settings, etc. in order to verify working condition. Industry has asserted through the required comment matrix to USTRANSCOM that this is burdensome on the customer due to the time and manpower it will take for them to have all electronics and appliances available for inspection prior to packing, then unplug, disconnect or otherwise prepare them all to be moved; thereby delaying the packing and loading process. Industry has also asserted that NTS TSP’s are not trained or certified to verify the working condition of appliances and electronics, therefore the verification process is flawed.
Property Damage: The customer will now have 7 days from the date of service, pack/load/delivery, to notify the NTS TSP of property damage sustained. As it is interpreted by SMO, the customer has 7 days to report any property damage that the customer discovers and believes was caused by the movers. There is also a Real Property Damage Form that must be filled out on each shipment listing the condition of the residence. Questions remain as to whether this form can be used like a household goods inventory to list pre-existing conditions and can this form be used to deny liability as a result. Industry pointed out that there is no place for a NTS TSP to fulfill the joint inspection requirement because there is no place to list pre-existing conditions on the property damage form.
Containerized NTS: USTRANSCOM is adding a voluntary containerized NTS requirement into the NTS TOS. It involves NTS TSPs that are willing to file rates to pack, containerize and seal NTS shipments at residence and dray them to their facility. Many NTS TSPs currently perform this service under the current NTS TOS, less the seal requirement. The real issue lies in the release of the shipment. The shipments will be released as a Code 2 shipment and the TSP assigned to the shipment cannot open and inspect the shipment prior to loading, taking possession AND ACCEPTING LIABILITY. The Code 2 TSP is only allowed to perform an external inspection of the containers. This is fraught with problems, legal, procedural and otherwise. Industry has had many spirited discussions with USTC and SMO regarding this section of the NTS TOS Draft and as of the date of publishing, USTC and SMO are “looking into” industry’s comments and concerns regarding this effort. At the same time, USTC has stated that most of the concerns will be alleviated with the implementation of the Global Household Goods Contract (GHC).
Now for the BIG NEWS>>>
This is perhaps the largest change in NTS most of us will have ever seen. USTC is looking more and more at how to containerize household goods shipments due to the positive claims and customer service results from shipments moved in this manner. Their ultimate goal is to have every NTS shipment packed, containerized and sealed at residence by a subcontractor (agent) of a prime contractor. This Prime NTS Contractor may be the GHC contractor, a national NTS contractor or a regional NTS contractor. The shipment will then be drayed to a NTS TSP’s facility where the containers will not be opened, rather only the condition of the containers will be inspected and noted on a rider. The subcontractor doing the packing and containerization does not have to be the same as the NTS TSP that will be storing the shipment. In fact, if this change takes effect, NTS TSPs will no longer be submitting rates under their NTS TOS for packing, drayage, wardrobes or high value items, delivery out, or unpacking under the program being pushed by USTRANSCOM for NTS. The rates for packing, containerization, drayage and unpacking will be negotiated between the prime contractor for NTS and the service providers. (Agents, NTS TSPs, etc) NTS TSPs will only be filing rates for handling in, handling out and storage.
This is a tremendous change in the way the DOD will be procuring NTS. It is also a tremendous change in how small businesses will interact with the DOD in providing NTS services. While these changes represent a dynamic shift in NTS procurement, trying to implement the containerized NTS requirement prior to the implementation of GHC will certainly cause ripple effects into the domestic DOD market as Personal Property TSPs, NTS TSPs, Military Claims Offices and Joint Personal Property Shipping Offfices try to wrangle with the uncertain liability implications, unclear rules and conflicting requirements. Many in industry believe USTRANSCOM is putting the cart in front of the horse with the insertion of these rules into the NTS TOS that are, by USTRANSCOM’s own admission, meant for the GHC environment.
If you have not yet read the NTS TOS Update Draft, I encourage you to do so. These rules are set to take effect June 1, 2021. IAM will continue to keep the membership updated as information is released by USTC on the NTS TOS efforts. If there are any questions about the information in this article, you can email me directly, at email@example.com.