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The U.S. Transportation Command and the Army Sustainment Command are working hard to continuously improve the PCS process.

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois — Summer is here and it’s a busy time for Army personnel and families as they move to their next assignment. Despite domestic improvements regarding COVID-19, the pandemic still proves problematic in other parts of the world and continues to affect the shipping industry.

In response, the U.S. Transportation Command, the Army and the Army Sustainment Command are working hard to continuously improve the permanent change of station process for its customers and family members.

“The pandemic has impacted all sectors of the global market. Ports, port agents, customs, trucking, rail and shipping are all part of those sectors that have been impacted by the pandemic, and they continue to see shortfalls in labor, drivers, material, fuel, increased operating costs as well as other operational resources,” said Col. Courtney Abraham, director of the Army Personal Property Lead Element and commander of ASC’s Joint Personal Property Shipping Offices-Mid Atlantic.

USTRANSCOM has adjusted domestic and international transit times to provide better predictability and expectation management for Soldiers and families for delivery of their household goods, he said.

“All overseas PCS locations could be impacted, no one greater than another,” Abraham said. “The personal property enterprise continues to monitor changes in the global supply chain closely and continually communicates with our industry partners in order to implement the best business practices to support our Soldiers and families.”

Abraham detailed the following changes to the overall PCS process that have been implemented since May 2021:

• Improving inventories: “We are working with the moving companies to shift from paper copies of inventories and use electronic inventories to the greatest extent possible. Electronic inventories will be mandatory in 2023,” he said.

• Pickup date choice: “[We] refined how Soldiers and families input their desired pickup dates, adding the ability for them to pick a preferred day inside their requested seven-day pickup window. Also known as ‘spread dates,’ this refers to the seven-day window during which your moving company is required to pick up your shipment.”

• Moving company contact: “The moving company will identify points of contact and email the Soldier/family with that information to facilitate better communication before, during and after the move, improving the overall PCS experience.”

• Simplifying claims: “Created a standardized form to simplify filing an inconvenience claim across DoD. Additionally, military claims offices will be able to declare a catastrophic loss of a shipment regardless of the percent of inventory items lost, damaged or destroyed.”

• Securing property: “Moving companies are already required to place seals on containers, but we’re adding a requirement that customers be notified if any seals are broken, that seals be replaced, and that these actions and communications are noted in the record.”

• Better communication: “Increased service provider availability by phone – added Saturday customer support requirement during the peak of the relocation period; provider must return calls on the same business day and wait times cannot exceed 20 minutes. Additionally, movers are required to provide customers a 24-hour notice of delivery and make two attempts to contact the customer, with each attempt at least six hours apart.”

• More control and choice for customer: “More time to file a claim — was 75 days, now 180 days.”

• Personally Procured Moves: Formerly known as DITY — Do-It-Yourself moves — reimbursement increased to 100% of what it would have cost the government to use a DoD moving company.

• Inconvenience claims: “Reimbursement up to seven days of per diem and incidentals when a moving company fails to pick-up or deliver as agreed.”

• SmartVoucher process reduces travel payments to less than two days.

• The Basic Allowance for Housing rate is in effect at all 40 on-base Intercontinental Hotel Groups Army Hotel locations in the U.S. through the end of fiscal 2022.

• IHGs have agreed to only charge Soldiers at their BAH rate when they must stay in temporary lodging for extended periods of time due to housing or household good delivery challenges.

• MILPER Message 22-0045 (CAC-enabled): Allows commanders the flexibility to change report dates by 30 days either before or after the initial report date, or up to 60-day deferment working with the Installation Directorate of Human Resources to get approval.

Despite all these improvements and bearing aforementioned challenges in mind, Abraham said the Soldier still has much input regarding how successful a PCS can be. He recommended Soldiers always do the following to ensure their PCS goes as smooth as possible:

• Once orders are received, visit the installation transportation office immediately to receive household goods counseling and complete shipment application(s).

• Communicate challenges with chain of command early, so they can assist and work with the installation transportation office to identify all possible options to support the Soldier and their families; there are several choices available to Soldiers and families to support challenges during their PCS move.

• Provide feedback via the customer satisfaction survey.

There are many resources available for those who are PCSing.

The My Army PCS, PCS My POV, and Army’s Digital Garrison apps are available for free download in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

• Military One Source: The USTRANSCOM one-stop shop for personal property information and access to systems

• USTRANSCOM Customer Facing Dashboard: Provides customers visibility of individual TSP performance.

• Army Virtual Call Center: Available at 800-521-9959; offers extended customer support hours of operation, additional chat capability and access to 24/7 support through USTRANSCOM.