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After a more than a two-year battle, a federal judge has upheld a multibillion-dollar contract award to Houston-based HomeSafe Alliance to be the sole provider for moving services for U.S. armed forces and families as well as civilian employees of the Department of Defense.
On Oct. 27, a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge ruled that a civil protest lodged earlier this year by two other bidders for the contract — American Roll On Roll Off Carrier Group Inc. and Connected Global Solutions — failed to show a “significant, prejudicial error in the procurement process.”
Protests to the nine-year, $7.9 billion contract award with the U.S. Transportation Command — which authorizes up to $20 billion in options — were lodged both with the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the federal claims court. Challenges have failed twice since the contract was awarded in November of 2021. The military estimates it does about 320,000 moves a year.
“We are elated with the federal court’s decision to keep their trust in us and continue our partnership with the military community around the globe,” said Alan Thompson, HomeSafe CEO. HomeSafe was not the low bidder, but the contract was issued on a “best value award” basis.
Transcom’s Global Household Goods contract is part of a broader DOD reform plan to improve the relocation process for military and civilian families, and integrates functions currently performed by hundreds of commercial entities.
“It will improve access to, and management of, quality capacity to meet peak demand and enable the department to affix the accountability and responsibility lacking in today’s program,” DOD said in 2020.
Thompson said the extended government bid process can be frustrating. “In federal contracting, it goes on and on and on,” he said. “But this is potentially the largest government services outsourcing in perhaps the last 20 years. It’s not shocking that those that were unsuccessful would try everything they could to see if they could overturn the decision.”
“The favorable decisions from both the Government Accountability Office and the Court of Federal Claims validate the integrity of the GHG program and award,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek, Defense Personal Property Management Office director. “We’re excited to resume the transition toward this vital reform effort to the household goods relocation program.”
Following a transition period, a measured phase-in of domestic shipments will begin after the 2023 peak moving season, he added.
“The military tends to move between May and the end of August. I would say at least 75% or more occur in that time period,” Thompson said. “It’s frankly a huge challenge for the moving industry.”
“The soonest all domestic and international household goods and unaccompanied baggage shipments are expected to move under the Global Household Goods contract is the 2024 peak moving season,” Transcom said in a statement.
The two challengers could still appeal the court of claims decision to a federal circuit court. An appeal would likely cause another delay in the contract award, according to an Oct. 31 letter Safranek sent to moving industry leaders.
At press time, neither of the challengers had filed an appeal.
“There are still a great many moving pieces in this process, and the ATA Moving & Storage Conference will provide updated information to our members as it becomes available,” said Ryan Bowley, executive director of American Trucking Associations’ Moving and Storage Conference.
Homesafe plans to establish a network that will exceed 2,000 subcontracting local or regional moving companies or transportation providers that will “essentially be doing the arms and legs work,” Thompson said. “We’ve also got some issues with expanding the company — staffing, leasing some new facilities. The two big areas are the enabling technology platform and building out the network of service providers.”
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