Two unsuccessful bidders have filed protests of the recently awarded $6.2 billion contract aimed at fixing the long-standing problems with moving service members’ household goods.

U.S. Transportation Command officials confirmed that they were notified that protests were filed Nov. 23 with the U.S. Government Accountability Office by American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group and Connected Global Solutions.

American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group “has legitimate concerns over the award process,” the company stated in an announcement of its protest filed with the GAO, which resolves disputes involving the awards of federal contracts.

ARC, as the company is known, was originally awarded the global household goods moving contract in April 2020, and that award was immediately protested. TRANSCOM pulled the contract back twice before issuing a new solicitation in November 2020. This process has been in the works since early 2019, when TRANSCOM announced plans to hire one company to manage household moves around the world.

U.S. Transportation Command on Nov. 4 awarded the new contract to HomeSafe Alliance, a joint venture of KBR Services LLC and Tier One Relocation LLC. The $6.2 billion contract spans more than three years, with the transition and base period beginning Dec. 1 and ending Aug. 31, 2025.

The start of the transition phase will be delayed until the GAO protest decisions are issued, TRANSCOM officials said in a statement provided to Military Times. The deadline for GAO to issue a decision regarding these protests is 100 days after the protest is filed, although GAO seeks to issue a decision before the deadline. Protests can also be filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

But as of now, TRANSCOM officials still plan to implement the new moving process in late 2022, which is the current timeline. The likelihood of contract protests has been factored into TRANSCOM’s estimated timeline for implementation. In a recent interview, Air Force Col. Joel Safranek, director of TRANSCOM’s Defense Personal Property Program, said that given the likelihood of protests and the time needed for a smooth transition, moves under the new program wouldn’t begin until late 2022.

From now until then, most service members will move under the current program, in which more than 900 commercial companies move about 325,000 shipments year at a cost of about $2.2 billion. Service members often have more than one shipment with their moves.

“While U.S. TRANSCOM looks forward to delivering capabilities under the [Global Household Goods Contract], the command remains committed to providing a quality experience to customers during the transition,” officials said.

ARC was originally awarded a $7.2 billion contract on April 30, 2020, for about the same amount of base-period time, with a potential payout of nearly $20 billion over nine years.

ARC officials note in their press release that TRANSCOM then described their proposal as “game changing.”

Following protests from two unsuccessful bidders —HomeSafe Alliance and Connected Global Solutions — the government took corrective action and then re-awarded the contract to ARC on June 29, 2020. That award was also protested by the two bidders, and the GAO found in favor of the protesters, resulting in TRANSCOM issuing a new solicitation.

ARC officials said they are confident their proposal “remains superior and provides the best customer service solution for service members and their families. Team ARC stands ready to provide all personnel, equipment, technology, facilities, tools, materials, supervision and other items and services necessary to provide a turnkey, all-inclusive moving service.

“ARC and its team of global leaders in the moving, logistics and technology industries, including UniGroup (United Van Lines, Mayflower), Suddath, Atlas, The Pasha Group and Deloitte, as well as a strong network of small businesses, know Team ARC has the customer-focused, high-quality moving solution that service members and their families deserve,” officials stated in their press release.

“Team ARC has been purposefully and strategically assembled from leaders in the moving, logistics and technology industries to reduce the burden and stress on [those served by the global household goods contract.]”

Because of the lack of quality movers, capacity has long been a problem in the military moving arena, with shortages of truck drivers and labor for packing, loading and unloading. Service members have had trouble getting moves scheduled and having their household goods delivered on time, and the pandemic has exacerbated the delays. Damaged and lost belongings have also been a longstanding problem.

The contract outsources, for the first time, the management of relocation services now being performed by the government. While U.S. Transportation Command will oversee the program, the contractor will pull together a network of moving companies from across the moving industry, and coordinate military moves and warehouse services from start to finish, integrating functions that are currently performed by more than 900 commercial movers. The contractor will be fully responsible for these moves, bringing accountability to the program.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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