Troops at 5 Bases to Be Part of 'Test Moves' Under New Private Management of Household Goods Shipments

Bahrain's transportation service provider during a household goods move
Bahrain's transportation service provider loads a truck during a household goods move amid the COVID-19 crisis, May 18, 2020. (U.S. Navy Photo by Kambra Blackmon)

U.S. Transportation Command said Tuesday that it's ready to start handing off management of some military family household goods shipments as it transitions to a new private contractor, HomeSafe Alliance, to handle permanent change of station moves.

The new management will start with a series of "test moves" at a handful of U.S. installations in the next couple of weeks. The command and HomeSafe Alliance have solved "the majority" of information technology challenges involving web applications they each developed to help military families track the moves, officials said on a call with reporters.

The tech challenges had delayed the rollout of the all-new process and private management, which the military hopes will improve the often frustrating process. Service members and families will find a "much more user-friendly" experience, said Andy Dawson, director of Transportation Command's Defense Personal Property Management Office.

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The privately managed household goods shipments were originally slated to begin in September, featuring HomeSafe Alliance's HomeSafe Connect digital interface, along with the military's new MilMove online platform. The company said the Connect app will allow military families who change duty stations to schedule each aspect of their shipment, track their inventory, and get help with problems.

HomeSafe Alliance's takeover will start slowly. Throughout the upcoming moving season, fewer than 1% of household moves will take place under the new system, Dawson estimated.

Those moves will be limited by base, starting with only five domestic installations that will be announced in the coming weeks, and by distance: Only moves within about 50 miles of the base will be permitted. Dawson said he hopes HomeSafe Alliance will manage all the moves that meet those criteria.

Following years of dissatisfaction with the relocation process, Transportation Command awarded the contract, estimated to be worth as much as nearly $20 billion over a decade, to HomeSafe Alliance, a company created specifically for the purpose, in November 2021 following fierce competition among several contractors. The contract includes "complete door-to-door global household goods relocation transportation and warehouse services worldwide," according to the announcement.

A round of IT testing in January "looked at ... integration challenges" between MilMove and HomeSafe Connect, with "very positive results," Dawson said. While the transition "continues to be based on a deliberate, conditions-based phase-in of the program, we're excited over the next couple of weeks to start awarding shipments to HomeSafe and start executing those test moves."

Service members moving within 50 miles of an installation likely won't be doing so on permanent change of station, or PCS, orders but instead moving into or out of base housing or retiring to live in the local community, Dawson said.

In September, after this summer's peak moving season, the command expects to gradually increase the number of stateside moves it awards to HomeSafe Alliance throughout the fall and winter. After receiving feedback from the test moves and making adjustments, HomeSafe could scale up by adding more ZIP codes in a given area or doing moves between two installations instead of just locally, Dawson said.

The officials expect overseas moves to begin no earlier than September 2025.

If all goes as planned, this year's test moves will take place entirely within the new system. An "automated tool" will screen service members' relocation requests and direct those who qualify for a test move to the Defense Department's new MilMove app, Dawson said.

After the service member completes the request in MilMove, it goes to their local base transportation office, where it's "reviewed and approved," then awarded to HomeSafe Alliance, with the information intended to move seamlessly among systems.

Finally, "HomeSafe Alliance and their subcontract network will be responsible for all aspects of that move from start to finish," said Kenneth Brennan, Transportation Command's director of acquisition. As for moving subcontractors, Brennan said he expects "a professional cadre and not necessarily temporary labor or day labor" because of incentives in HomeSafe Alliance's contract.

Transportation Command can "theoretically" continue managing moves under its existing system "as long as we need it," Brennan said. "But it is our intention to transition to [the new system] as fast as is appropriate based on the conditions-based rollout so that we don't have to run competing systems in parallel."

Related: New Apps to Help with Military Family Moves Further Delayed as Private Contractor Takes Over Household Shipments

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