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Earlier this week I spent a few days in DC continuing the effort in positive PCS reform. Where things stand at now is that Transcom will make the shift to a Single Move Manager (SMM) Program by awarding a contract to a company (think anyone from Halliburton to Amazon) in November with a go to work date by 1 October 2020, and taking effect 1 January 2021.
What does that mean for you?
Instead of having 42 contracting offices managing the 450,000 annual shipments, one company will now manage all those shipments. When briefed about, we are told this will allow “industry to do what industry does best”, and allow for better accountability. The idea is that this company will be able to provide financial penalties to Transportation Service Providers (TSPs) who do not perform well and meet the standard but in reality those “penalties” means not paying them any type of incentive bonus.
So what happens until then?
Until this new contract takes effect there are a few resolutions being put into place. The Army has stated they will hire more QA inspectors to meet the required 50% in person inspections that are suppose to happen, while also sending inspectors TDY to places like Leavenworth that have a high turn over rate at one time due to a schoolhouse. The Marine Corps has suggested the possibility for them to activate reservists during the peak season to work as QA Inspectors. In addition to this, there is an effort to increase the amount of crated shipments from 6% last year to 12% this year including all shipments at 7,500 pounds or less.
The Transcom Posture Hearing
On Tuesday, General Lyons testified with the Senate Armed Services Committee on the state of the PCS process and experience. Last year, not one question was asked that the hearing about the PCS process. I was very happy to hear many of the Senators ask about the privatization of the PCS program and raise their concerns over it to ensure it doesn’t lead to a similar outcome of the housing issues.
Most notably was Senator Tillis who said
“I really want to make sure we get this right, in terms of accountability, predictability and customer satisfaction.”
Senator Blumenthal also cited my op-Ed piece from military.com and the criticisms that I have already given this proposed program with one of my concerns being the lack of current research and data to show the benefits and cost analysis of this program. General Lyons responded that this would be a “gut punch to families” if we slow roll this process for a study.
After the hearing I was able to ask General Lyons directly about why not having a study done and was told “I’ve been doing this for 35 years, what will another study show us that we don’t already know?”
I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it again – prove this to me Transcom, do a study, pilot program, something to prove to me this program is the best solution. Prove to me we won’t be back here again in a few years experiencing the same or even worse problems as a result of switching to this Single Move Manager Program.
The Industry’s Side of the Story
While in DC, I had the opportunity to visit the Interstate Van Lines headquarters, meet with their President, members of their staff, the President of IAM and their Director of Government and Military Relations. I wanted to be able to talk with them and others in the industry to understand what issues they face with the current program and concerns moving forward to the new program.
If we’re going to work on fixing the PCS problem, we have to be able to address the problem from all sides.
What I saw at Interstate was a company who cares, a warehouse that has everything sealed and marked, and a company who wants to do better, be better, and provide better than what many of us usually experience.
One of the best things I saw at Interstate Headquarters was their training facility. In this training area is a space set up like an office, multiple crates to practice packing different types of items, a mock house with real heavy furniture, dishes, crystal, a piano and workout equipment, complete with stairs and a truck to practice how to load and fill. During off peak season each of their employees gets 80 hours of training, and up to 40 hours of training during peak season before they are even sent out to someone’s house.
I had asked the question that many of us had about the use of untrained day laborers who are often in our homes, when places like Interstate to background check and train their employees. As explained to me is that the issue comes from the local agents they have to contract with to provide the packing service before they show up to haul the shipment. They don’t have a say in how that local agent hires and trains their employees. In addition with the owner/operator truck drivers who are employed as a contractor, there is no say is how they hire and manage their loading and unloading crew.
Several things I heard over the course of my visit there is that if there is a problem, call your move coordinator. If you can’t get a hold of them, get on the website and find out who is next to call and keep going up the chain until you get a hold of someone.
If you file a claim and provide a counter offer in DPS, reach out to your coordinator or the claims department and let them know you submitted a counter. They get no notification that the offer was received or counter. Letting them know could help get your claim settled faster.
Something we all agreed on is that yes there are some bad moving companies out there, but there are also some great ones who really want to do good work.
I appreciated the level of commitment I saw from Interstate in how they train their employees, how the company is ran, and in wanting to do their part to fix what they can in order to provide the best service possible.
We all have concerns about this new Single Move Manager Program. So Transcom, go on, prove to us this is really the best thing.
Petition – http://tinyurl.com/MilitaryMovePetition
Original Open Letter Post -https://www.facebook.com/MilitarySpouseChronicles1/posts/322816208469769/