Fusion Team Addresses Personal Vehicle Shipping Issues
By Mark Diamond
Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Aug. 14, 2014 Transportation experts from U.S. Transportation Command and Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command formed a fusion team Aug. 4 to more quickly evaluate and address critical issues affecting the U.S. military's privately owned vehicle shipping program.
A Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command graphic shows what customers should expect in the shipment of their privately owned vehicles in conjunction with a move to or from an overseas assignment. SDDC graphic by Mark Diamond
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
On May 1, International Auto Logistics assumed responsibility for the Global Privately Owned Vehicle Contract, also known as GPC III. Under the terms of the contract, IAL is responsible for processing, transporting and storing vehicles owned by military personnel and Defense Department civilian employees bound for or returning from overseas duty locations.
The newly formed fusion team is a combination of experts familiar with the contract requirements and who can and drive improvements into the system, officials said. Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul H. Guemmer leads the team.
"We are working very closely with IAL, and we have put together a team to research the issues and gain an understanding of how IAL intends to make the process more efficient and transparent," Guemmer said. "Our group's responsibility is to examine IAL's supply chain processes and provide contract oversight of the company's ability to meet the requirements for our military customers. We're not here to do IAL's job. We're here to look after the best interest of our military customers by highlighting issues that IAL needs to resolve."
Guemmer said the team has been working hard to understand and correct the most immediate issues that are affecting military customers.
"We've seen there is a constrained information flow to our military customers, and more importantly, if the process doesn't work, our customers need to know how to elevate their concerns," the general explained. "How can our customers reach an IAL representative, and at what point do they elevate the problem to a government representative who can intervene on their behalf?"
During the team's first week, it developed and distributed a customer advisory to all Defense Department transportation offices clarifying the level of service to which customers are entitled, as well as to provide customers a better understanding of how they resolve issues within the vehicle shipping process.
The general said another area of concern is rental car expenses and other incidental expenses a customer incurs as a result of a missed vehicle delivery date.
"Our military POV customers are sometimes confused and frustrated," Guemmer said. "They need to know they will be taken care of throughout the entire process."
For military personnel, fusion team officials said, the first seven days of rental car expenses are reimbursed by the government, and IAL is responsible for rental car expenses beyond that period. DOD civilian employees are not entitled to rental car expenses from the government for the first seven days, but they may file an inconvenience claim through IAL for rental car expenses beginning the first day after the delivery date is missed.
The general said the team spent much time during the first week understanding IAL's in-transient visibility, or ITV, processes. ITV is an organization's capability to provide the customer with maximum visibility and near-real-time status on the movement of all classes of supply, from origin to destination.
According to Army Lt. Col. Michael Erhardt of SDDC’s operations directorate, members of the fusion team believe the majority of customer concerns are a result of missing or incomplete ITV data. He said IAL's system, in some cases, may not accurately reflect where a vehicle is in the shipping process.
"Every customer should be able to easily and quickly determine where their vehicle is, and right now, that's not happening," Guemmer said.
As an interim fix, Erhardt said, the fusion team is adding contracting officer's representatives, known as CORs, at several VPCs within the continental United States. He said the increased onsite presence will be used to engage with customers, oversee contractor performance, and validate that accurate ITV information is being provided from each vehicle procession center.
"Again, we cannot do IAL's job," the general said. "We can point out the areas that need to be improved, and it's up to IAL to put the right priority on providing those necessary capabilities."