eGov/Mil Newsletter: April 8, 2020
In this Issue:
- USTC J9 Teleconference with Industry Representatives (7 April)
- USTRANSCOM J9 Personal Property Forum (PPF) Day 1 and Day 2 Notes and Slides
- Updates from GSA’s Weekly Teleconference on COVID-19 Impacts with TSP Relocation Community
- IAM to Host a Virtual Round Table Panel Discussion
- Governing Members get Three Free YP Memberships
- Government Accountability Office (GAO) Releases Report on DoD “Movement of Household Goods”
- OSD Issues Guidance on Use of Cloth Face Coverings on DoD Installations
- COVID-19 Relief Package Clarification
- USTC J9 Teleconference with Industry Representatives (3 April)
- Update on Reweigh Table Coming Soon to the International Tender (IT20)
- IAM & AMSA Engage GEN Lyons on DoD Support for Financial Relief
- Air Force Chief of Staff: Expect Military Movement Ban to be Extended
- Coast Guard “Float Plan” and “Assist Team” will Support Members During PCS
USTC J9 hosted a call with industry representatives. It was clear from the call some of the invited participants from the industry had rotated, which is good to get as many different participants as possible. Rick Marsh was present for some of the call, but the call was guided by Lt Col Lowery.
A set of read-ahead slides was provided for the call. These are the slides USTC J9 intends to make available to the Services and industry twice per week. We were told these slides would be available at move.mil/sme, however I do not see them posted at the time of this writing. We’ll continue to make them available via these newsletters, eblasts, or via our website.
Nothing major on the slides. You can see the drop off in workload as compared to last year at this time. The Navy noted they didn’t like the information displayed on invoices 3 days past due. They said they researched all those invoices, and almost all had actions taken on them…for example, a disputed charge; and so the Navy could go no further on many of the “past due” invoices. Rick Marsh ensured the participants they understand the list might contain invoices that cannot be processed due to things like a disputed charge. And that the list is not intended as a score card; it’s intended to bring up conversation and make sure the enterprise could respond to TSP concerns about timely payment.
The above conversation led to a discussion from the Navy about whether they should approve what they can on an invoice, and instead of disputing the invoice, deny the charges they cannot approve so TSPs can be paid more quickly on those charges that are not in dispute. This may lead to additional workload for both TSP and JPPSO; but was being considered as a way to get payments moving to TSPs faster for those items not in dispute. It was generally acknowledged this was a preferred way forward, but the Services and USTC will discuss it further to be sure everyone agrees and that there will be consistent application of the process if they move forward.
J9 brought up the recent DoD policy on requiring cloth face coverings on DoD installations, and asked TSPs or Services whether they had, or had heard of any concerns from the policy? Generally speaking, the policy was probably too new to get broad feedback, but some acknowledged it was already a requirement for everyone in California, so the moving industry should be following that requirement in the state already. Others mentioned they had heard some concern with having access to masks to be able to comply. The Army reminded everyone that the policy didn’t require a specific mask; just a cloth face covering that could be fashioned from any number of different cotton products…T-shirts, bandana’s etc.
IAM raised a concern about the requirement for NTS contractors to include the FRV invoice in this upcoming quarterly storage invoice. The concern was that some/many NTS contractors might not be prepared to include this FRV invoice in this upcoming quarterly billing cycle; and IAM wanted to be sure that for those TSPs who didn’t get the FRV invoice finished this quarter, they’d be able to bill it during the next quarter. The Storage Management Office (SMO) said the purpose was to respond to TSP’s concern for timely payment; but if the FRV invoice was not ready this quarter, they’d talk with JPPSOs to make sure there wasn’t some reason it couldn’t be submitted next quarter. The SMO will get back to industry on that topic.
The J9 was interested in industry feedback on increasing the maximum weight for a Code 2 shipment from 7,500lbs to 10,000lbs. Per J9, their data from last year shows that Code 2 shipments, for shipments going into SIT, have better CSS scores, and less severe claims than Code D shipments. Some were neutral on the topic. Some supported an increased maximum as long as van drivers moving padded shipments on direct deliveries weren’t impacted. But some believed many local agents would be impacted in terms of their ability to service more than one Code 2 shipment per day in the 10,000lbs range; and that, along with taking longer to pack and handle, and potentially tying up more trucks and equipment, could have a significant impact on capacity in some areas. No decision was made on increasing the maximum weight; but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is increased for the upcoming peak season.
And finally, the Services commented on what peak season might look like if shipments get turned back on in the summer. Most acknowledged that the logistics and personnel staffs were working in concert on policy and potential initiatives that could include extending people for 30-90 days or even a year; extending retirements; utilizing stop-loss; and extending returns from overseas. Most stated the personnel communities were aware they couldn’t just take everyone who was supposed to move in the Spring, and move them to the Summer along with the other normal Summer moves.
Source: USTC J9
Due to COVID-19 impacts, USTC J9 held their two-day PPF virtually. Day 1 and Day 2 slides and highlights are below.
While there were some technical difficulties that hampered both sessions, there was plenty of good information shared with attendees, and USTC J9 was open to industry concerns and suggestions. Dialogue between industry and government reps from both USTC and the Services was encouraged. I personally appreciate J9 finding a way to communicate with industry in spite of not being able to hold the PPF in-person.
Day 1 Highlights (See Slides):
- Refusals will be allowed this summer; USTC was asked if they would start sooner than last year, and it was stated they would consider moving up the timeline; no specific date given.
- As a sense of the workload still happening, USTC noted that for week 12 (we are in week 14) PPSOs awarded 38% of the three year average for the same week; and pickups were also 38% of the three year average.
- For week 13, pickups are at 16.5% of the three year average…but there is a lag here and the numbers will likely be close to 30% when the data is all in; and awards were at 46% of the three year average for the same week.
- Slide 16 shows the improvement of the monthly CSS trend over the past three years.
- Slide 21 shows a projected “battle rhythm” coming out of the upcoming peak season in terms of getting prepared for the 2021 rate filing. The plan is to have projected 2021 business rule changes posted by 1 September, 2020. Last year they were posted in November.
- USTC noted that refusal decisions took longer on domestic shipments than for international.
- Slide 26 compares CSS scores on refused shipments. Customers appeared to be less satisfied in terms of CSS scores with shipments that were refused than with non-refused shipments.
- Despite mixed feedback, refusals will continue; USTC is working improved DPS functionality for PPSOs.
- To support JPPSOs under refusal operations, they can now award bookings to any TSP on the TDL in 2 scenarios. See slide 28.
- Under a manual booking capability given to JPPSOs, once a shipment cycles through TDL with no award, JPPSO can book with any TSP in that channel, even if blacked out if TSP agrees; regardless of quartile.
- USTC believes industry Code 2 concerns from last fall were overblown. Saw no impacts with Code 2 shipments to industry. Will continue to push the use of Code 2.
- Per USTC, Code 2 CSS scores were higher than Code D; in 2019 customers were 4% more satisfied with Code 2 shipment over Code D during peak season.
- There were less “severe” claims for Code 2 in 2019 compared to Code D. See slide 39 for Code 2 summary.
- Reweigh slides start on slide 42. USTC says, ideally they would like the shipment reweigh completed before the shipment goes into SIT.
- USTC does not want to see a reweigh performed at origin; would need to explain why in notes if it is done. Contact PPSO/or USTC.
- Automatic reweighs do NOT require pre-approval. Invoicing for a reweigh fee DOES require approval…to ensure shipment within tolerances to justify receiving the reweigh fee.
- Not paid for reweigh unless the reweigh falls within tolerances (slide 43).
- For shipments under Stop Movement: shipments at destination can move. Deliveries out of NTS can move.
- USTC Guidance in advisory 0058C provided for TSP to be able to show local authorities that movement of the shipment is considered essential by DoD if challenged by local authorities.
- Designation provided in advisory 0058C should be on all shipments so DoD can track the impact of the stop movement order…even those loading before 11 May.
Day 2 Highlights (See Slides):
In general, the Wednesday briefs were a continuation from Day 1 with broad updates on the Defense Transportation Regulation, Non-Temp Storage (NTS), POV program, a Services Panel and a Military Claims Office (MCO) Panel. The Service panel provided various topics that they wanted highlighted…some became inputs on the current COVID-19 policy. Only the Army participated in the MCO panel.
Here are some highlights that I captured:
- As a reminder, the purpose of the PPF was to discuss new rules associated with the 2020 rate cycle; however, as you can imagine, plenty of concerns associated with the current COVID-19 crisis were brought up.
- Tom Thompson, who served for a short time on the USTC J9 Personal Property staff as the Chief, Transportation Systems Branch, has now transitioned and briefed the PPF crowd in his new role as the as the head of USTC J5/4’s Defense Transportation Regulation (DTR) Administration (slides 6-9).
- DTR Chapter 406, Storage, is being updated and is currently in the coordination process with the Services. The process for DTR updates is a 45-day review by action officers from each Service, and then 30-day coordination at the 0-6/Colonel level.
- NTS slides covered data on average lots on hand, average pounds on hand, shipments handled in and out annually; NTS and SIT warehouse numbers were presented (slide 15); and some discussion about the current challenges for accomplishing warehouse inspections and approvals in the current environment. The SMO said they would conduct virtual inspections where they could, and for SIT would grant conditional approvals as deemed appropriate. Slide 17 listed some common documentation issues.
- The SMO said they were considering a quarterly rate filing for NTS; and for 2021 were exploring a NTS containerization initiative and would be looking for industry input as to concerns or challenges; but haven’t reached out officially for inputs yet.
- The SMO was asked the status of the NTS contract that USTC had previously issued an RFI for. They said there was no update, and they were focused on the current program through “the next several years.”
- The Army kicked off the “Service Panel” with updates from COL Abraham from the Army Personal Property Lead Element (APPLE); and from Jesse Henneman from the Army Sustainment Command (ASC).
- During the Army portion, a question was asked about documentation required on Bills of Lading (BLs) on shipments already moving. Danny Martinez from J9 stated that guidance already exists in advisory 0058C in Attachment 1, #4. a. iii. It states, “BLs that have been printed without ‘Authorized 0058 Move’ and moving during the stop movement window, enter one of the fourteen statements in the ‘Additional Remarks’ field and accomplish an SF1200.”
- J9 was asked about RDDs and stated that they understand there is now, and will likely be after Stop Movement, a concern with RDDs, due to current challenges, future increased volumes, etc. But right now, there is no standard guidance being pushed out to update RDDs. J9 will assess, with industry input, whether extended RDDs are needed at the appropriate time in the future.
- The Air Force Personal Property Activity (PPA) stated they are getting calls and emails from agents and TSPs about the application of advisory 0058C. PPA reinforced that 0058C is PPSO guidance, not industry guidance, and for clarifications, TSPs and agents need to contact their servicing PPSO as opposed to contacting the PPA directly for operational type questions.
- AF PPA guidance to their JPPSOs is at this time they are only looking at egregious violations when issuing punitive actions to TSPs during this crisis. Trying to ease the strain on industry and focus on serious infractions.
- There was some discussion on the Air Force’s use of “load boards” to manually move shipments that have gone through the normal booking and refusal process. No other Service mentioned any procedures beyond what was in DPS.
- JPPSO-SC briefed their thoughts on use of cardboard boxes instead of wooden crates; much discussion on this topic. I provided their thoughts on this previously during my summary of the JPPSO-SC industry day.
- The Marines made it clear, and the Air Force also reinforced this point, that the Stop Movement order does not apply to deliveries. Shipments at destination can be delivered when the member is at destination. That includes shipments from NTS.
- The Navy mentioned they were working hard to keep money flowing to industry through invoice processing. It is reviewed by Navy HQ daily; last week 85% of invoices were processed within 3 days.
- Due to the current situation, the Navy not going on QA visits except for major issues. They are working hard to comply with the 0058C advisory, but it is taking them time to get caught up. They are staffed around 50% and much of that is remote work.
- The Army MCO briefed that although they are teleworking, they have 25 of 26 people working remotely. They’ve seen a significant drop in claims. They are working to get questions answered and back to customers within 24 hours.
- I brought up the issue of concerns TSPs had to meet the 60 day timeline for claims processing. The MCO stated they hadn’t seen any real issues with delayed claims to this point…at least in the states. They were confident the Army MCO staff would work with the customer and TSP to do what was reasonable during this crisis; and they reinforced they hadn’t turned over any claims issue to the JPPSOs for punitive actions at this time.
- J9 was asked whether they would produce a standard report format for the new inconvenience claim reporting requirement. They said the details would be coming as part of their Peak Season Message.
- J9 reported that they would be issuing guidance on delaying the requirement for annual financials.
- J9 was asked to consider backing off the inconvenience claim policy for now due to impacts of COVID-19. After some conversation they reiterated that for now, they are maintaining the rules designed to support the customer and will consider all conditions when making a change.
- J9 was asked about the impact to a TSP if their members are uncomfortable going into a residence and whether DoD would allow TSPs to inquire about the general health of the customers in the residence. J9 said they absolutely understand companies want to make sure their workers are protected; that situations will arise on both sides were someone has concerns; that crews are going to want to ensure customers aren’t sick, and it would be appropriate to ask some general questions. They said the QA and PPSOs might be able to help with some of that if industry got push back from a customer; but they hoped a customer would understand their concerns.
- J9 was asked whether they would consider monthly billing for NTS instead of quarterly to get money into providers’ hands more quickly. It was stated that based on FMR rules, it was “illegal” to pre-pay for a service. Some discussion about whether it was really pre-paying. Navy brought up the concern of essentially tripling their invoicing workload by making payments every month instead of every three months; might ultimately slow payments down due to the increase of workload.
- Mold issues were discussed. J9 stated that if a TSP felt they were being forced into servicing something with a potential mold issue, engage with USTC J9 and they’ll work with the JPPSO and MCO to come to a solution.
The General Services Administration (GSA) hosted a teleconference with their TSP Relocation Community on 6 April. Highlights from the call are below:
- GSA is working on updated FAQs associated with the COVID-19 crisis, and hoped to have them out Monday, 6 April.
- The staff was putting together a “cross-walk” of items in the HTOS that are time-specific so TSPs could talk through those items with the Agencies they support and hopefully come to an agreement on those items you can’t meet due to the current operating environment. GSA believed Agencies would work with TSPs on reasonable requests for time-specific requirements that are no longer feasible.
- According to GSA, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) put out a fact sheet for agencies providing incentives agencies could use for rapid hiring requirements during the crisis; and incentives to help agencies to get employees to accept a move during this time. These incentives are outlined on-line at opm.gov.
- GSA mentioned they had heard of customers pushing back on TSPs, not wanting their shipments getting on a truck with another customer’s shipment. And also heard of customers with fears of not wanting their truck to do anything but travel direct to destination. GSA asked the participants if anyone else had heard of that issue; and wondered what the agency or TSP answer would be to that situation. No one replied that they were aware of similar situations; and that the costs would likely have to be covered by the customer for such a request.
- IAM inquired as to the recent DoD message requiring cloth face masks for all individuals on their installations, and wondered whether any other federal agencies might require something similar that could impact the moving industry. At this point, GSA did not believe they would make a blanket policy on this topic. They believe movers need to implement smart policies to protect themselves and their customers instead of GSA issuing broad policy. GSA did say some Agencies might implement their own policy on it, but as of right now, they weren’t going to direct actions, and didn’t believe they would provide masks for suppliers or pay for them. GSA asked TSPs to tell them whether they wanted mask guidance issued at their level. No one spoke up at the time.
- GSA had received some feedback on issues getting MARAD to approve some Determination of Non-Availability (DNA) waivers; even in situations where the port in question was closed. GSA asked TSPs or agencies for any other examples. Issues could be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie mentioned she wasn’t trying to adjudicate individual DNAs but if there were issues that didn’t make sense like stated above, she was interested in the reasoning behind the decisions.
- GSA mentioned that some federal agencies are still moving. That overseas moves were on hold unless it was mission essential. That moves in the lower 48 states were still going; but Hawaii and Puerto Rico were very problematic and likely not moving. They mentioned that CONUS to overseas moves would be tough for a while; but they were still trying to get some members back from overseas to the states.
- GSA stated they are still seeing about 40% of the normal volume moving; last week it was over 50% because of what was in the pipeline, but the numbers are starting to drop off a bit.
- GSA mentioned that for TSPs submitting partial invoices on shipments before the move is complete to get some items paid as soon as possible, you have to check with the Agency you’re supporting first to see if their systems can handle partial billing…some cannot. And GSA reminded the audience the government can’t pay for services that have not yet been rendered.
- GSA stated that TMSS rates should be moved over to TMSS 2.0 by 7 April for shipments booking for 1 May and beyond. They requested TSPs go in and validate their rates once they are posted, to make sure everything is as expected. Once in a great while, there have been problems with a missing decimal point, etc, that needs to be corrected.
On 15 April, at 3pm EDT, IAM President, Chuck White, will host a round table discussion: “COVID-19 Response: A Government – Industry Partnership.” Register now!
Participants in the round table discussion include all of the U.S. Government’s largest household goods movers: Rick Marsh of USTC J9; Julie Blanford from GSA; and Charles Olden from Department of State.
We are soliciting your questions and comments for our panel members. Please take a second to submit your questions now, so our moderator (Chuck White) can make sure the hottest topics are discussed.
Send your proposed questions or concerns to email@example.com. Let us know if you prefer your question not be attributed to you or your company, and we’ll ensure it remains confidential.
UPDATE: The registration page is live.
Governing Members get Three Free YP Memberships
If you haven't spoken to a Young Professional member, you may not know this, but they are doing real business and building lasting business relationships a rather small group. Best of all, if you are a Governing Member, your dues includes three free memberships in the YP groups for your employees who are under 40 years old. Contact IAM's Membership Team to take advantage of this today!
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Releases Report on DoD “Movement of Household Goods”
GAO released their long-awaited report on their assessment of DoD’s Personal Property Program (DP3) and implications of transitioning to a single move manager under the Global Household Goods Contract (GHC). See the report in its entirety.
This report was approximately 12 months in the making, and provides zero insight into how USTC believes the GHC can increase quality and capacity while decreasing claims under the GHC. The report fails to address almost every key issue that was outlined by GAO in correspondence with Congressional offices. Instead, the report shy’s away from any meaningful audit and focuses on USTC’s incomplete metrics associated with assessing the future program, and lack of standard internal controls when estimating the potential cost of transitioning to the GHC. Neither of those issues were central to the original purpose of the audit.
OSD Issues Guidance on Use of Cloth Face Coverings on DoD Installations
The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) released a memo to all of DoD on the use of cloth face coverings while in DoD installations.
The memo, dated 5 April, states that, effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, will use cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers. This directive includes DoD Contractors and all other people on DoD property.
COVID-19 Relief Package Clarification
For companies whose operations have been curtailed or otherwise impacted by COVID-19 related restrictions, several clarifying guidance and forms were issued over the weekend, connected to programs created under the first three legislative relief packages to pass the Congress. Included is information on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Assistance Disaster Loan.
USTC J9 hosted a call with Rick Marsh as the host; and VADM Mewbourne, the USTC Deputy Commander listened in.
Mr. Marsh wanted to make sure everyone saw the advisories associated with Waiting Time and Financials. Those are both posted at move.mil/sme. We’ve also posted them to the IAM website.
IAM’s web content manager, Carl Weaver, has posted a number of previous USTC Advisories at this location. We’ll attempt to keep the USTC advisories up to date here as we get them as a back up to move.mil/sme.
The attached “Placemat” is what Rick Marsh and the J9 will use to take a strategic look at what is happening within DP3 during the COVID-19 crisis. These are charts J9 will update twice per week and make available to TSPs and the Services, so all entities involved in DP3 are working off the same data. You’ll be able to find them on move.mil/sme.
Slide 1 shows what is in DPS to date. The blue line on the three-year average shows 2019 data specifically. The lower left is designed for the Services. It shows service members moving (based on order #s) and not shipments since one move can have multiple shipments. The lower right is the top 10 locations with aged invoices to ensure any invoice hold ups are being worked.
Slide 2 is the 2019 slide based on the same week last year, provided for a comparison to the current 2020 week.
Slides 3&4 include brief status reports from the Shipping Offices.
A good discussion on the call revolved around confusion over whether the Stop Movement Order that was updated to 25 May applied to all shipments or just Domestic. The Marines said they were updating their guidance to ensure everyone knew their interpretation was that the Stop Movement to 25 May was for international shipments only. The Air Force already makes that same guidance clear in 0058C. The Army stated they were in discussions at the staff level on that issue now. Someone mentioned that the guidance to TSPs in 0060B didn’t reference the 25 May Stop Movement being only applied to International shipments. J9 stated it was up to the Services to interpret that policy. J9 also stated they were working an update to TSP guidance that would help clarify some confusing wording.
J9 was asked whether there was any status on providing a “surcharge” to shipments during the Stop Movement to help account for the additional challenges of moving shipments right now. Rick Marsh stated they had hoped to have the 400NG and IT updated already, but they are working it to include an administrative surcharge for shipments moving during the Stop Movement. And any surcharge will be retroactive to when the Stop Movement order was implemented. He wanted to be clear, it will not be a hazardous pay surcharge or a financial stimulus charge. It is to cover/acknowledge the administrative challenges associated with awarding, pulling back, changing dates, etc, associated with this Stop Movement.
J9 was asked whether shipments booked outside the Stop Movement Order timeframe (after 11 May domestically or after 25 May) would require exemption or exception language. J9 stated there would be no statements associated with those shipments outside the Stop Movement window.
The Coast Guard mentioned that since their shipments were moving “as normal” there would be no exception to policy required for their moves.
It was brought up that an agent in Georgia had to close their doors for 30 days and would make no shipments out of SIT. J9 was asked for some leniency on inconvenience claims for shipments out of SIT since this will likely happen in multiple locations, and could be incredibly financially burdensome. J9 acknowledged the issue but offered no solution at this point.
The issue of customers asking for delivery of their shipment in SIT at origin back to residence (since they were stuck at origin and couldn’t proceed), and how that would be handled. Some had heard that a few PPSOs were telling customers they would be charged for delivery. The Marines specifically stated they would take care of the Marine; and most stated they had no blanket policy, but the customers would be handled on a case by case basis to do what was right for each. TSPs would be paid accordingly for those deliveries as they occurred.
Source: USTC J9
Update on Reweigh Table Coming Soon to the International Tender (IT20)
Some of you may have noticed the 2020 400NG includes “Civilians” in the reweigh table (Section 1, Item 4, para 7). Currently, the reweigh table in the IT20 (Item 505, para 4) does not.
IAM was informed this was an oversight in the IT20 and will be corrected in the next IT20 Change. For the IT20, “Civilians” will likely be added to the O-6 to O-10 grade category, and will also be included as a part of the statement, “shipments that meet any of the following criteria”.
We wanted you to be aware, as I know some have built notifications into their IT systems. Recommend waiting for official notification from USTC before making any changes to your systems on this topic.
Source: USTC J9
IAM & AMSA Engage GEN Lyons on DoD Support for Financial Relief
IAM and AMSA signed a joint letter to the USTC Commander, GEN Stephen Lyons, asking for any advocacy/assistance he could provide for this industry to work with DoD to get financial support (see letter).
GEN Lyons replied almost immediately and stated: “John/Charles, thanks for the letter. I share your concerns and am supportive of finding ways to mitigate the CV-19 impact on the moving industry. You can count on my advocacy. I will ask the staff to look at your Section 4003(b) question and other potential options. More to follow. GEN Lyons.”
For those who haven’t heard, IAM and AMSA also petitioned Congress to secure funding directly for those in the moving industry who support DoD moves. The final Act signed by the President did NOT include our proposed language. We continue to push to find ways to help the industry find financial relief.
Source: IAM/AMSA/USTC J9
Air Force Chief of Staff: Expect Military Movement Ban to be Extended
In an article in the on-line Air Force Magazine, the “Daily Report” from 7 April, the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein states he expects the Service’s Stop Movement order will be extended.
Coast Guard “Float Plan” and “Assist Team” will Support Members During PCS
The Coast Guard provided information to its members on how it will assist them during the summer moving season. Some comprehensive guidance was provided to Coast Guard members. Get insight on how the Coast Guard plans to move forward with moves this Peak Season.