The DoD decided to revamp the process of moving military members with U.S. Transportation Command’s (TRANSCOM) new Household Goods Contract that shifts away from their “move-by-move” agreements with individual moving companies and instead creates a single-managed service that establishes long-term relationships with moving companies. TRANSCOM claims to want the best possible service for the best price to handle this frequent moving process with military members. In years past, this has not been the case. A lack of accountability and transparency with individual companies and military members have piled on damages.
Moving Puts a Strain on Military Families
Military families move A LOT. Many families move every few years, and some even more so. It’s possible for a military-child to have moved 10 times by the age of 12 and could potentially move schools 6-9 times from kindergarten through high school graduation. Those facts alone tell you how frequently our military families upend their location and homes and in order to serve their country at the next post. To go along with this, the companies that have been used in the past have reportedly damaged a lot of personal goods as well as regularly misplaced items. Many members have been vocal about changes that need to occur, and with the DoD’s new $7.2 billion-dollar Household Goods Contract, it seemed as if the correct action has been put into place.
STATE OF CONFUSION With Moving Contract
After the contract was put into place, TRANSCOM was set on finding the most efficient and valuable vendor possible. However, it has taken quite some time and even more confusion in doing so. After a long bidding war, American Roll-On-Roll-Off Carrier Group (ARC) was chosen. After some time, TRANSCOM decided to pull back the contract because ARC had failed to disclose a “price-fixing conviction” that took place in 2016. After looking into it, they decided that this conviction did not take place under ARC and was a clerical error by the accounting department.
ARC’s “Clerical Error”
Under a dropdown menu when registering the contract, ARC selected the wrong parent company. Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS (WWLAS) was incorrectly chosen. WWLAS was affiliated with a conviction that is currently awaiting a sentence from the Australian Government for “cartel behavior”. An “extensive independent review” given by TRANSCOM found that the actual parent company of ARC was Wallenius Wilhelmsen AS (WWASA ), and it was confirmed that ARC didn’t have anything to do with the prior convictions. Under Systems for Award Management (SAM), it was established that is was a coincidental error based on extremely similar company names and that there was no disqualification for a clerical error.
Overlooked Lineage and Relationships of WWLAS
Matters got even more confusing when it was found that WWASA happened to be the parent company of both WWLAS and ARC. Doubts surrounding WWASA’s complex organizational structure and questions were raised if these convictions had anything to do with ARC and the contract they accepted with the DoD. WWASA admitted it was liable for the actions of its subsidiaries so TRANSCOM leaves its military members in a state of ambiguity when it comes to moving support.
Decisions for DoD and Transcom
The DoD is left with some major decisions to make. While they want to fix the problem they have with frequent inefficient moves for military members, but they are caught in a massive spider web of liability. It’s up to the DoD and TRANSCOM to take a step back, re-evaluate their current situation, and make a smarter decision. They’ll need to take into account the burden of WWASA’s business structure and decide if they’ll need to continue the search for a credible vendor. Time will tell if they do the right thing.