One lawmaker plans to put pressure on U.S. Transportation Command to help service members locate their missing vehicles by compiling and submitting a weekly tally of user complaints given to his office.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, chose to tackle the privately owned vehicle (POV) shipment debacle after fielding ongoing complaints from service members whose cars have been lost in transit to and from overseas bases by International Auto Logistics (IAL), a DoD contractor.
When a pair of official inquiries to TRANSCOM, which oversees the shipping contract, produced more questions than answers, he decided to expand beyond just his constituents.
"Our men and women in uniform face unique challenges, and moving their families from overseas is already tough enough," Warner said in a statement. "That no one knows exactly how many cars are missing and no one has developed a plan to fix the problem is absolutely unacceptable. My office stands ready to assist any family facing this issue."
TRANSCOM officials reported last month that 70 percent of the nearly 27,500 vehicles shipped since IAL took over the contract on May 1 were delivered after their arrival deadlines. A random DoD sampling of cars accepted recently showed only 5 percent of those were late, officials said early this month, but cautioned that the improvement applies only to vehicles shipped after Aug. 1.
Service members wishing to file a complaint through Warner's office, regardless of their state of residency, should visit his webpage and fill out a form. That information, including the shipping number and confirmation number, will be compiled weekly into a spreadsheet and submitted to TRANSCOM for followup, officials with Warner's office said.
Additionally, staff members will try to help service members sort through what seem to be common shipping issues such as missing paperwork or customs forms, they said.
"If, at the end of the day, all we do is provide a second place for people to go in addition to the normal process, and were even able to help a few families get their cars a little quicker, we consider that time well spent," said Mark Brunner, Warner's senior adviser on national security, who is working on the issue.
TRANSCOM officials said they appreciate Warner's help.
"We greatly appreciate the senator's concern for our service members and their families, and his efforts in their behalf," Cmdr. David Nunnally, a TRANSCOM spokesman, said in a statement. "Whether from the service member, or through the senator's office, we will work with IAL to research and respond to queries."
Nunnally suggested service members also contact IAL directly on its website, or on its customer service line at (855) 389-9499.
"If service members don't receive the support they deserve from the contractor, they can contact the USTRANSCOM Inspector General POV Customer Support Team at firstname.lastname@example.org."
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at Amy.Bushatz@monster.com.