Shipping and relocation nightmares and supply chain woes have become commonplace in recent months, but new questions are being raised about whether those challenges may soon have an even greater impact on Military service members and their families.
Last month, U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) announced the award of a lucrative $6.2 billion contract to a new entity -- Houston-based HomeSafe Alliance. The Global Household Goods Contract (GHC) is designed to provide comprehensive relocation, transportation and storage services for members of the military, particularly when they are being moving from base to base.
The outsourcing of the GHC to a single, accountable provider was promised to provide sweeping transformation to improve the experience for service members and their families, who have long complained about delays, lost or damaged belongings, and poor communication. But the award of the high-stakes contract to a newly formed entity composed of companies that either lack experience or have poor performance histories could make the experience even worse for service families.
According to a TRANCOM report, one of the two HomeSafe partners – Tier One Relocation – was responsible for 50% of the moves “turned back” to the Department of Defense this summer, during peak military move season. When moves are turned back, it results in considerable disruptions for military families who find themselves at the mercy of contracted moving services. The cost of replacing damaged or missing goods can also be significant.
According to a KPLC InvestigateTV analysis of federal data from 2015 to 2019, “military members submitted damage claims to moving companies totaling more than $450 million for household items that were damaged, destroyed.” Andrea Cacho and her husband, Spc. Christopher Cacho, described their moving process with Tier One as a “nightmare experience” according to reporting from the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle.
When they moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, delivery of their belongings was delayed more than six weeks and many personal items, including her wedding ring set, were lost or damaged.
“Living a military lifestyle is not easy. ... We move every few years, sometimes continents away from our friends and families,” said Andrea Cacho in an interview with the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. “The absolute least we can expect is a moving company to handle our items in an adequate and professional manner.”
The award of the GHC contract to HomeSafe is under protest, and it remains to be seen whether TRANSCOM will throw out the contract and start the process over again.