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DoD tightens oversight on new vehicle shipping contractor

Aug. 5, 2014 - 11:46AM   |  
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Defense transportation officials have set up a team of experts to quickly address problems service members are experiencing with the shipping and storage of their privately-owned vehicles.

The team, which had its first meeting Monday morning, is monitoring and evaluating the performance of the new contractor and will recommend improvements and help set priorities, said U.S. Transportation Command spokesman Army Maj. Matt Gregory. The team will track required delivery dates of vehicles, and ensure that customer service is prioritized.

“Solving the issues surrounding vehicle shipments is a top priority,” he said in an email response to inquiries from Military Times.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Guemmer, who has served as deputy director of TRANSCOM’s military strategy, capabilities, policy and logisitics directorate, leads the new team, which also includes a representative from the new contractor.

Officials and the contractor “have received a great volume of feedback from various sources, including emails and social media,” Gregory said, but because the feedback has been directed to many points of contact within TRANSCOM, the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, and the contractor, a specific number is not available.

The team is collecting data and validating feedback to deal with individual cases, but also to provide information to help with streamlining the processes, according to Gregory.

Some troops have reported problems with their cars are being delayed, getting information about where their vehicles are, trouble accessing the online tracking system and difficulty reaching anyone at the company’s headquarters.

“We are well aware that our customers continue to experience challenges in shipping their vehicles,” said Navy Capt. Aaron Stanley, director of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s personal property division, in an article posted on the command’s website.

SDDC manages the vehicle shipment program, while TRANSCOM is the administrator of the Global POV contract.

That contract was awarded to International Auto Logistics last year. Because contract disputes forced a roughly six-month delay in the start of the contract, IAL did not actually take over until May 1, during the busiest season for permanent change-of-station moves, after having had less than two months to prepare.

In the past month, IAL has hired additional call center staff and additional staff for vehicle processing centers. In addition, the company has taken steps to immediately help service members whose POVs have been delayed, said Doug Tipton, the company’s president and CEO.

That includes expediting the process for paying inconvenience claims; and direct billing from rental car companies Avis and Budget to IAL. That allows service members whose cars are delayed to get a rental car without having to pay upfront.

Stanley said the first seven days of rental car expenses after a missed required delivery date are handled by the service member’s local military claims office. Rental fees and temporary lodging expenses after the initial seven-day period are paid by IAL. He said IAL reviews each claim on a case-by-case basis.

Stanley said the TRANSCOM contracting office and SDDC program management office continue to provide oversight, and noted that daily performance is monitored by government contracting officer’s representatives who are assigned to vehicle processing centers, according to the SDDC website.

According to these contractor officer’s representatives, Stanley said, “IAL is responding to their feedback and has begun to make improvements.”

“We must give IAL the chance to resolve an issue,” Stanley said. “We understand our customers’ frustrations; however, we are optimistic that once the peak moving season is complete, IAL can and will make the necessary adjustments to refine their processes and ensure a quality POV experience consistent with the quality standards reflected in the contract.”

The previous contractor, American Auto Logistics, had had the contract for the moving and storage of vehicles for service members since 1998. Before that, the government ran the program. AAL unsuccessfully disputed the award of the contract to IAL with both the Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

For appointments and general information, SDDC advises troops and DoD civilian employees and their families to call IAL toll free at 855-389-9499 (option 2), or visit www.pcsmypov.com. Customers also can email SDDC’s staff at the digital hotline at army.sddc.safb.ppcf@mail.mil.

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