Transcom Commander Voices Criticism Of Household Moving Program

The commander of U.S. Transportation Command said at a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday that he agrees with those who have criticized capacity problems in the Defense Department’s program for shipping household goods.

“I’d like to acknowledge the recent criticism of the Department of Defense household [goods shipment] program, and I’ll simply say that I agree with the criticisms in regard to insufficient capacity during peak [times] and level of accountability within the department,” Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, said.

The commander made his remarks before a joint hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee’s panels on readiness and on sea power and projection forces.

As one of 10 unified commands of DOD, Transcom provides air, land and sea transportation for the department in times of peace and war. As part of that mission, it transports the personal property — including privately owned vehicles and household goods — of service members who are making official moves.

According to the Transcom web site, the command is “responsible for administering DOD’s Personal Property Program and continues to re-engineer the way DOD selects, manages and works with transportation service providers.”

Lyons said he has discussed the household goods program with the service secretaries and service chiefs. On behalf of the entire DOD, he noted, Transcom is leading an initiative to restructure its relationship with industry in an effort to improve quality, capacity and accountability within the realm of moving household goods.

“Just to be clear, the department will never relinquish responsibility to private industry,” Lyons added.

Treating Families With Respect

Following Lyon’s formal remarks, panel members asked how he will make sure small businesses are treated fairly while making sure U.S. military families are treated with the respect they deserve.

“It’s our intent on the restructure with the commercial industry to present the conditions with which we can grow capacity,” Lyons said.

“One of the fundamental issues we have is insufficient quality capacity during peak season, and [the carriers] struggle with that,” he noted.

“We would like to restructure our relationships so it’s not [on] an annual transactional basis,” Lyons said, citing some 400,000 transactions per year.

“But it’s longer term, and we’re incentivizing the appropriate level of investment,” the Transcom general said, adding that he tells private industry vendors Transcom wants to grow capacity and not shrink it.

“I need as many — if not more — moving companies out there providing quality service to the curbside,” he said.