U.S. Transportation Command has further delayed the rollout of new apps to help with military family moves and the handing over of responsibility for household goods shipments to a single contractor, command officials told reporters on a call Thursday.
The command and HomeSafe Alliance are trying to work out problems with the interoperability of their respective digital portals — the apps in which service members and families will first request their move and later plan and keep tabs on the various aspects of it. Technical issues arose in the development of both DoD’s MilMove app and HomeSafe Alliance’s HomeSafe Connect, Transportation Command officials said.
Moves were originally slated to begin under the new Global Household Goods Contract in September, then delayed to an unspecified time later in the fall. This latest delay means military families moving next summer might not get to do so under the new system.
Transportation Command awarded the contract, estimated to be worth up to $20 billion over nearly a decade, to HomeSafe Alliance in November 2021. The company is a joint venture of existing relocation companies created for the purpose of competing for the new Defense Department contract. As many as 20% of U.S. domestic moves are DoD moves, amounting to about 170,000 household goods shipments a year, the officials said.
Once the transition is made, HomeSafe Alliance will provide “complete door-to-door global household goods relocation transportation and warehouse services worldwide,” according to the contract announcement. The company will manage transportation subcontractors — packers, movers and others — including the 40% that must be small businesses; and it must provide 24-hour-a-day customer service.
The ultimate timeline of the rollout will depend on testing of the apps, scheduled for mid-December through the end of January. Once that’s squared away, Transportation Command has picked several stateside bases where short local moves, within a 50-mile radius, will begin.
However, any substantial rollout won’t take place over the summer because of risks associated with trying out a new system amid the peak season’s intense demand, officials said.
Transportation Command has extended its initial transition period, but officials said the full duration of the contract with HomeSafe Alliance probably won’t get any longer.
The officials said they don’t expect HomeSafe Alliance’s onboarding of subcontractors to slow the transition, and they hope new efficiencies will offset lower rates of compensation from the subcontractors’ perspective.
Once the new system is in place, Transportation Command will then assess the further need of services from the military’s more than 200 on-base transportation offices managed by the service branches. Meanwhile, those offices will continue to do such things as explain the moving process and benefit entitlements to families, approve final invoices and help with claims.