The $6.2 billion plan aimed at fixing long-standing problems with moving service members’ household goods has gotten the green light from the Government Accountability Office, as that agency has dismissed two protests from unsuccessful bidders.

But the battle may not be over.

“We will review the GAO decision and evaluate next steps, including any further legal action,” said American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group Inc., in a statement. That company, along with its subcontracting partners, “are disappointed” with the GAO’s denial of their protest, officials said.

Protests can also be filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

While the GAO hasn’t yet made its public announcement of the decisions, it has reportedly notified all the parties involved, including the other unsuccessful bidder that filed a protest, Connected Global Solutions LLC.

U.S. Transportation Command had no immediate comment.

This process has been in the works since early 2019, when TRANSCOM announced plans to hire one company to manage household goods moves around the world.

U.S. Transportation Command on Nov. 4 awarded the new contract to HomeSafe Alliance, a joint venture of KBR Services LLC and Tier One Relocation LLC. The $6.2 billion contract spans more than three years.

For now, service members will move under the current program, in which more than 900 commercial companies move about 325,000 shipments year at a cost of about $2.2 billion. Service members often have more than one shipment with their moves.

In November, after the contract was awarded and protests were filed, TRANSCOM officials said the likelihood of contract protests had been factored into their estimated timeline for implementation. With the likelihood of protests and the time needed for a smooth transition, moves under the new program weren’t expected to start until late 2022. Information was not available from TRANSCOM officials about changes in the timeline.

Because of the lack of sufficient numbers of quality movers, capacity has long been a problem in the military moving arena, with shortages of truck drivers and labor for packing, loading and unloading. Service members have had trouble getting moves scheduled and having their household goods delivered on time, and the pandemic has exacerbated the delays. Damaged and lost belongings have also been a longstanding problem.

The contract outsources, for the first time, the management of relocation services now being performed by the government. While U.S. Transportation Command will oversee the program, the contractor will pull together a network of moving companies from across the moving industry and coordinate military moves and warehouse services from start to finish, integrating functions that are currently performed by more than 900 commercial movers. The contractor will be fully responsible for these moves, which TRANSCOM officials believe will bring accountability to the program.

ARC was originally awarded the global household goods contract in April 2020, but it was successfully protested by HomeSafe Alliance and Connected Global Solutions. GAO directed TRANSCOM to go back to the drawing board and issue an new solicitation.

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.

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