Megan Harless, the military spouse and US army veteran who last year shook up the US military by starting a petition asking for improvements in the quality of military moves, has made some suggestions about how those improvements could be made rather than going to the lengths of privatising the whole contract.
She says that privatisation might look good on paper but there are concerns over a lack of contractor accountability and the dangers of multiple layers of subcontracting. A contract wouldn't even start until 2021, leaving another two full years for moves with the same problems. She also says that there is a lack of research supporting the idea.
Rather than move straight to privatisation, USTRANSCOM should consider one of the following:
Increase the incentives for Personally Procured Moves (PPM)
Currently PPM are reimbursed at 95%; this should be increased to 100% and offered with other incentives, such as cash for packing materials. Megan believes that more families would use the programme and the stress on the moving industry would decrease.
Use military spouses as inspectors
Megan said that last year the army had stated a goal to increase inspections to 50% of shipments, including sending inspectors on temporary duty to help in some special assignment locations. But no plan was announced to actually hire more inspectors. Creating a programme to hire military spouses would help achieve the goal of a 50% inspection rate and reduce military spouse unemployment.
Real-time household goods tracking
This technology is already available and Megan says that it would be helpful for families to be able to see when and where their household goods are during the move process, which will allow for more peace of mind. “And when they go missing, tracking information will be available to help us find them,” she said.
Standardised moving company training
Megan calls for a simple training guide for moving companies to provide to their employees showing what is expected for a military move, such as packing, loading, completing an inventory and how to mediate through disagreements. “Training that mirrors the counselling many service families receive would also help get everyone on the same page for what is supposed to happen and what right looks like,” she said.
Megan said making these changes would greatly improve the experience many families face each year, provide resolution now, and allow more time for USTRANSCOM to be able to evaluate whether the single move manager plan is the most efficient and best plan with which to move forward.