New coalition calls for inquiry into new $17.9B military moves contract

A coalition of professional movers and independent owner/operators have joined to form a new coalition to advocate for a better federal program to facilitate military moves.

The Movers for America coalition is urging Congress to direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to launch a detailed evaluation of the Global Household Good Contract (GHC), which provides moving services for military families when they transition between station assignments. The group seeks a competitive process that will provide quality service for families.

More than 300,000 U.S. active-duty military families move to new bases nationally and globally each year. The Defense Department’s Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) coordinates both domestic and international moves, including military members’ and families’ personal household items and belongings. TRANSCOM is in the process of overhauling its process with a $17.9 billion GHC.

The contract has been delayed multiple times since a solicitation was first awarded in 2019 and uses what Movers for America describes as a “private entity” that has “never handled a military move” before to coordinate all change of station moves.

“The new business model and fee structure are so unrealistic that countless respected and road-tested professional moving companies with experience in military relocations refuse to sign on,” the group’s website reads. “Because they’ll lose money in their efforts to support our troops.”

That’s because, as the group describes, independent owner/operators would be forced to do business under the contract as employees, losing flexibility to choose which military shipments to haul. The contract would also require them to meet compensation requirements for all business conducted, not just business conducted for military moves.

The model is a departure from current protocol, which allows owner/operators to earn a percentage of what moving companies charge customers or, in the case of military moves, the government to move a load based on total weight. Under the new requirements, contractors and subcontractors would have to pay employees hourly wages based on the local market in which they are working.

Movers for America claim this is actually a lost benefit for workers who, under the current system, can earn more based on completing work efficiently. Under the new model, all workers would earn the same based on how many hours it takes to complete a job.

“The world has changed dramatically since TRANSCOM first embarked on this transition to the GHC,” said Matt Connell, CEO of TMM, a moving company that provides services.

“Inflation has driven up the cost of doing business; fuel and labor costs have climbed; supply chain shortages have disrupted business. So it’s worth evaluating whether the assumptions that this contract is based on are still valid. At the same time, a recent survey shows that military families have overwhelmingly positive views of the current PCS system, so why upend a system that is delivering for military families?”

The new contract cleared its latest hurdle in February, integrating TRANSCOM’s system with the new vendor, HomeSafe’s technology. The contract is now ready to move forward, though the Department of Defense expects only about 1% of its overall household goods volume to use the new contract this year. International moves under the new contract aren’t expected to begin until late 2025, according to the Federal News Network.

Before the latest tech holdup, the contract also faced issues with challenges to the procurement process that led to canceling the first solicitation offer with American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group in favor of HomeSafe. Other bidders also challenged, with legal challenges not cleared until the end of 2022.

TRANSCOM has been working toward a new program for military moves after service members frequently expressed dissatisfaction with their moves, including just 74% who said they were satisfied with their moves. Among those who had items lost or damaged in a move, only 41% said they were satisfied with the process, according to the Federal News Network.

Now, TRANSCOM is conducting “test moves” at 14 military installations, with all moves conducted within a 50-mile radius, something Movers for America argues doesn’t adequately reflect real life scenarios where service members are often moving cross country or, in some cases, across the world.

“We have been raising questions and concerns about the GHC contract for many months now. It represents a very disruptive, high-stakes gamble that will leave military families scrambling for themselves with no backup if it fails,” said Scott Kelly, President of Suddath Government Services.

“It’s appropriate and necessary for a credible independent source like the GAO to evaluate if the financial assumptions work, if the labor commitments are adequate, if this supports or erodes American competitiveness, and most of all, if military families will be well-served.”

More than 500 moving professionals have signed onto Movers for America’s call to action. The group is instead calling for a high-quality, efficient and safe moving program for service members and their families.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. In early 2022, she left the business to serve as Communications Director for St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. After leaving the administration, Janelle briefly worked as a communications consultant for candidates, businesses and non-profits, before accepting her position as Publisher for Southeast Politics, a homecoming of sorts to her Florida Politics roots, where she served as a reporter and editor for several years. Janelle has also held roles covering the intersection of politics and business for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and general assignment news with an emphasis on social justice and climate change for WMNF Community Radio, where she also hosted a political call-in show under several names, including Last Call, Midpoint and The Scoop. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

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