Military officials rely on experience surveys to keep bad military movers from getting repeat government business. But those surveys were not sent on time to any troops who moved over this year's peak moving season, thanks to a system glitch that went unnoticed for over six months.
The survey, which is supposed to be sent by email to the service member seven days after a move is completed, is used by U.S. Transportation Command (Transcom) to rank movers' quality and determine the priority at which they are assigned future move contracts. Movers who receive very low rankings may be blocked from receiving any more Pentagon contracts. Troops are also supposed to receive survey reminder emails 14 and 30 days after the move.
But no such survey emails were sent between April 4 and October 16, Military.com has learned. This left about 185,000 military members -- making up about 46 percent of all PCS moves conducted over 2019 -- without the typical email-based prompts to complete the survey, Transcom officials confirmed this week.
During that period, the survey was still accessible through a direct link on Transcom's Defense Personal Property Program (DP3) website, on Move.mil and by phone, officials said. The survey reminder email is the primary way users access the system, however, officials said.
"In September, the DP3 staff received feedback that the email reminders to complete the [customer satisfaction survey] were not being sent as expected. DP3 staff investigated and determined a software issue caused the reminder outage, which was resolved on October 16th," Dave Dunn, a spokesman for Transcom said in an email.
But Megan Harless, a military spouse who sits on a Transcom advisory committee that meets monthly and is dedicated to improving the military move experience, disagreed. She said she and several other spouses on the panel first warned officials in July that they had not received surveys after their summer moves. They also noted the outage every month until October, when officials finally investigated and found the problem, she said.
"Three of us had moved this summer in the mid-June timeframe, the middle of peak season ... and here we are in the meetings saying that none of us have received the link for the survey," said Harless, an Army spouse who advocates for PCS system reform. "They kept brushing it off. In August we told them again, they said it was a glitch ... In September we mentioned it again, and then again in October."
When officials told the committee that they had discovered that no emails were being sent, she was in disbelief, she said.
"Just complete shock," she said. "I think I probably face-palmed there for a minute."
Since the fix Oct. 16, those who moved while the email system was down have received survey email reminders, Dunn said. Since all reminders were ultimately sent, he said, officials don't expect any impact to the system or responses.
"Our primary concern is garnering feedback from DoD families and gauging their satisfaction and concerns," he said.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.