So Many Tests to Improve Moves It's Confusing, General Says
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 12, 2000 Calling himself "an aberration," Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth L. Privratsky said he's moved more than a dozen times in more than three decades, and "I haven't had a real bad move. But some were frustrating.
"I've had on occasion $1,000 or more in damages," the commander of the Military Traffic Management Command recently told a gathering of American Moving and Storage Association members and military traffic management specialists.
"In the space of three decades, I've become worn down by the process, the number of people you have to talk to get things done, the number of steps involved in just settling a claim," Privratsky told the audience. "The game needs new rules."
And DoD and the services are trying to create the best game in town using the best aspects of three ongoing re- engineering pilot program tests. A fourth test, expected to start soon, is the Full Service Movement Project sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Privratsky said DoD has so many pilot programs being tested now that "it's easy to get confused!" Briefly describing the programs, he noted that the household goods initiatives focus on streamlining the relocation process and providing quality of life services to military members, DoD civilians and their families.
MTMC is running a pilot test that awards contracts to movers based on both their bids and the quality of their service. The current system favors the lowest bidder.
The other two ongoing tests are being conducted by the services: the Army's "Hunter Army Airfield (Ga.)" program and the Navy's "Sailor Arranged Move Program."
The Hunter personal property pilot, winding down after more than two years, was extended recently until March 2001 or until the Full Service Moving Project pilot takes over, Privratsky said.
"In the Hunter pilot, one relocation company, CENDANT Mobility, has been responsible for all aspects of the move," the general said. "It offers toll-free telephone contact, in-transit visibility, full replacement value coverage, direct claims settlement by the move manager and on-time performance provisions."
The Hunter pilot moved more than 3,500 shipments, including all outbound moves of household goods from Hunter to worldwide destinations. Privratsky said the customer satisfaction rates are more than 80 percent.
"The Hunter test proved that best commercial business practices could be successfully applied to the military relocation process. Customer satisfaction increased, damage decreased and claims processing time was reduced," according to an information paper on the Hunter project.
The Navy program, called "SAM" for short, is closer to a do-it-yourself move. Sailors select the mover they want to use from a list provided by the transportation office and submit the name for approval. SAM began in February 1998 at Fleet Industrial Supply Center at Puget Sound, Wash.
Now, sailors can use SAM to move from four regions -- Norfolk, Va.; Groton, Conn.; Puget Sound (including Whidbey Island) and San Diego, Calif., to anywhere else in the continental United States.
The SAM program is limited to Navy personnel with household goods moves of at least 1,000 pounds. In some cases, that includes moving boats.
"The SAM pilot has involved about 2,500 shipments from several locations in the U.S.," Privratsky noted. "I'm told that customer satisfaction is high."
When the Full Service Moving Project starts, it will test outsourcing of the function of arranging for shipment or storage of personal property. This project evolved from the Army test at Hunter.
With FSMP, the move manager is the single coordinator for the customer throughout the move process. That manager assesses the customer's household goods needs and coordinates and arranges those requirements with a mover.
"This two-year pilot, with three one-year options, projects about 45,000 shipments from the Baltimore-Washington area, Georgia and Minot Air Force Base, N.D.," Privratsky said.
The timeline calls for the commander of the U.S. Transportation Command to assess test findings and to provide the secretary of defense with implementation recommendations in spring 2002.
"We've been talking change and pilots for more than five years, and we've effected a whopping 25,000 household goods movements," Privratsky told the audience. "It simply embarrasses me, and I hope it's starting to embarrass you." What he wants, he said, is to reach the 600,000 military families moved each year who aren't part of the four tests.
"They'll remain unaffected for years to come as we sort out the right path and the requirements -- surely for another three or more years," he concluded.
Visit the DoD "It's Your Move" web site at www.defenselink.mil/specials/itsyourmove/.