USTRANSCOM J9 Calls So Far This Week

April 15, 2020

USTRANSCOM J9 has hosted a number of calls with various attendees so far this week.

 

(1) On Monday, COL Gipson called for a short-notice teleconference with a small group to discuss J9’s response to industry’s request to extend transit times due to the COVID-19 crisis and Stop Movement order.  Generally speaking, USTC J9 is prepared to update transit times by adding one day of transit time for every 5 days, not to exceed 14 days.  J9 will implement this soon.  Moving forward, this transit time will be automatically updated in DPS.  But for shipments already moving, various options were discussed as to how the transit time update would occur.  A significant workload could exist for either or both TSPs and PPSOs to update transit times for shipments in transit. A few options were discussed.  Expect guidance from J9 soon.

 

(2) J9 Hosted their COVID-19/Stop Movement call on Tuesday. 

 

The attached slide was quickly discussed.  Generally, DoD is picking up about 1/3 of the normal shipment total since week 12. 

 

Air Force asked J9 about the intent of PP Advisory #20-0073 (Protecting the Force During Personal Property Shipments). They clarified that paragraph 3.1, the requirement for cloth face coverings, was intended to apply to family members in the house when household goods were being packed/loaded and unpacked/unloaded. 

 

Mr. Marsh followed up on the above question to state that USTC’s intent for the advisory was not to provide guidance to families.  It was informational for TSPs and PPSOs.  USTC will provide more specific information for families outside the advisory messaging.

 

Conversation on the call then turned to PP Advisory #20-0074, that provided information/guidance on how TSPs may submit payment requests for a 10% adjustment to shipments processed during the Stop Movement Order. 

 

Mr. Marsh reminded participants on the call, the 10% “surcharge” was an administrative surcharge in recognition of the burden associated with issuing, pulling back, and rebooking shipments due to the Stop Movement order.  It is not a hazardous duty pay surcharge, and has nothing to do with hazardous conditions.  The 10% adjustment DoD will allow, is also not intended to be duplicative in any way of Congressional programs designed to help businesses, or Small Business Administration Loans designed to support small businesses during this time.  It is an attempt to pay industry for some of the burden imposed due to extra administrative requirements caused by the Stop Movement order. 

 

The Storage Management Office, responding to IAM’s inquiry about NTS TSPs being required to invoice for FRV with their quarterly NTS invoice, stated that while they would expect most or all TSPs to include their FRV invoices this quarter, they understand some TSPs might not complete those invoices on time.  Therefore, on a case by case basis, that FRV invoice could be submitted next quarter if needed. 

 

J9 acknowledged that DPS analytics was down yesterday, and they expected it to be back up and functioning by COB Tuesday. Not certain of the current status.

 

VADM Mewbourne, USTC Deputy Commander, mentioned he expected an announcement soon from SECDEF on whether the stop movement order would be extended and for how long.

 

J9 was asked whether there was any intent to stretch peak season out longer this year.  Mr. Marsh said the short answer is yes.  They expect peak season could stretch out to October or even November; and their intent would be to extend peak season rates as well.  

 

Lt Col Lowery mentioned that anecdotally, the feedback she is receiving is that in light of all the issues associated with the stop movement, members are generally satisfied with their interactions with industry.  However, Lt Col Lowery cautioned TSPs need to think through, and start planning for how they will operate once the Stop Movement is over.  How TSPs will manage customers so they have a good customer experience, etc.  She asked rhetorically how TSPs are thinking through those issues.

 

VADM Mewbourne asked whether DoD could expect to have more capacity into the fall if Peak Season was extended, or would there be significant limitations due to a loss of the normal seasonal labor.  Some felt it could be an issue, a number of TSPs stated they believed the residential and corporate moves would take longer to recover, and therefore that additional capacity could be applied to DoD moves.

 

(3). USTC J9 held two combined calls to get industry and Service feedback on two issues: Code 6 & 8 Air Freight rate increases and Disputed Billing procedures.

 

  1. Responding to numerous inputs from industry about the volatility of air freight rates, J9 is working a potential solution to ensure TSPs don’t start blacking out Code 6/8 shipments across the board. J9 floated a number of proposals.  There are workload concerns for both government and industry, and GSA Audit concerns associated with any potential proposal.  J9 has sought feedback from  both sides on what might be the best solution.  They are drafting an advisory and have asked for input from TSPs who do a large percentage of Code 8.  J9 is willing to adjust the TSP’s air freight rate based on current market conditions, but needs a sustainable process.  Another call is expected this week.

  2. It was suggested last week by the Navy that if TSPs believe they are not getting paid quickly enough by the PPSOs, one potential solution is to not dispute any shipments, but instead approve what is valid on the BL, and deny everything else.  There has been much back and forth on the topic and whether there is any real gain by not disputing invoices.  It appears the general consensus is, continue with the current process; as a change to approve/deny could create greater delays and more workload on both sides.