The $6.2 billion contract aimed at improving household goods moves for service members has gotten the final green light.
Nearly four years after defense officials announced they had begun the process to consolidate all household goods moves under a single contract, the last roadblock has been cleared. The deadline for the last court appeal has passed, with no appeals filed.
The new contract, worth a potential $17.9 billion if DoD exercises all contract options over the next nine years, aims to fix military families’ long-standing problems with damaged household goods, missed pickup and delivery times, and other frustrations with movers.
But most service members won’t see changes resulting from the new system until the 2024 peak moving season.
“We’re moving along with the transition,” said Scott Ross, a spokesman for U.S. Transportation Command. “A measured phase-in of domestic shipments will begin after the 2023 peak moving season concludes. The soonest all domestic and international household goods and unaccompanied baggage shipments are expected to move under the [Global Household Goods Contract] is 2024 peak moving season.”
The peak moving season is generally May through September, and officials know from experience it’s not wise to implement a new system all at once during the already stressed peak season.
The $6.2 billion contract, awarded to Houston-based HomeSafe Alliance, initially spans more than three years, with a transition and base period. But it’s worth potentially up to $17.9 billion over nine years. HomeSafe Alliance is a joint venture of KBR Services LLC and Tier One Relocation LLC.
The contract will essentially outsource the management of the process that moves service members’ household belongs, providing complete door-to-door household goods relocation transportation and warehouse services. TRANSCOM will continue to oversee the program. But it’s the first time the Defense Department has consolidated management of the movement of service members’ belongings under one contract.
HomeSafe Alliance will pull together a network of moving companies from across the industry and coordinate military moves and warehouse services, integrating functions that are currently performed by more than 900 commercial movers. They handle about 325,000 shipments a year at a cost of about $2.2 billion. Service members often have more than one shipment with their moves.
The contractor will be fully responsible for these moves, bringing accountability to the program.
A tortuous path
TRANSCOM faced numerous legal challenges during this contracting process and awarded the contract three times. The latest step was an Oct. 27 ruling in TRANSCOM’s favor by Judge David Tapp, in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Two companies, Connected Global Solutions LLC, and American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group Inc., had protested the contract award and filed claims in the federal court. They had until Dec. 27 to appeal the decision.
ARC and Connected Global Solutions contended the award to HomeSafe Alliance was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with the law,” according to the description of the case in the judge’s written opinion. He concluded that “plaintiffs have not met their burden to show that the GHC was awarded arbitrarily, capriciously, or contrary to law.”
Judge Tapp’s opinion also offered some details into what the new contract will bring, such as moving companies providing daily updates on their capacity to HomeSafe, which TRANSCOM believes could be a suitable approach to prevent capacity and scheduling issues that DoD experiences under the current household goods program, especially during the peak season.
Following the judge’s decision, TRANSCOM officials and HomeSafe Alliance resumed their transition to the new system in November.
Military families’ problems with household goods moves came to a head in 2018. This reform process has been in the works since early 2019, when TRANSCOM announced plans for a global household goods contract.
This is the third time the contract has been awarded.
It was originally awarded to ARC on April 30, 2020, at a cost of $7.2 billion for about the same base period, with a potential payout of nearly $20 billion over nine years. Following protests from two unsuccessful bidders at the time — including HomeSafe Alliance — the government took corrective action and then re-awarded the contract to ARC. That award was also protested by the two unsuccessful bidders, and the Government Accountability Office found in their favor.
TRANSCOM went back to the drawing board, and issued a new solicitation in November 2020, awarding the contract to HomeSafe Alliance in November 2021.
More protests followed. GAO found in favor of TRANSCOM, then the unsuccessful bidders filed complaints in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
The court document also notes that Connected Global Solutions had the lowest price for the nine-year contract term, at $17.7 billion; while HomeSafe had the next lowest price at $17.9 billion; and ARC the highest price at $19.5 billion.
TRANSCOM’s Source Selection Authority determined that the superior technical capability of HomeSafe outweighed the cost difference, according to court documents.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.