Movers Still Have Questions After Meeting With Military

Military Leaders in Virtual Session Enthusiastic About Controversial Program
Some movers indicated they would not sign up for the program. (Ridofranz/Getty Images)

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NEW ORLEANS — Moving companies looking for answers from military leaders about a controversial $20 billion contract to move military families were left wanting more.

But answers were mostly not forthcoming.

Not only did leaders from the U.S. Transportation Command show up late for a highly anticipated March 6 session of the Moving & Storage Conference of American Trucking Associations, they didn’t make a live appearance. After a lengthy virtual presentation by the military leadership, there was little time left for movers to ask questions and express their concerns about the complex program.

“I came here today hoping to find some answers so I could participate in the program,” said Rick Smith, CEO of CMS Companies, a network of moving agents. “I’m trying to find a way to make this work. I hoped to find some answers here, but I have more questions now, and more concerns.”

Ryan Bowley


Scheduling conflicts were cited for the shift to a virtual presentation.

“They had commitments at Scott Air Force Base and they could not send the level of seniority, so they had to do it virtually,” said Ryan Bowley, executive director of ATA’s moving conference.

The meeting took place two days after a session at the conference where a panel of top executives from large moving companies continued their criticism of the new program. In particular, the companies maintain that it’s unworkable and lacks opportunity for individual movers to make fair profits for their services.

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The military leaders giving the presentation said they are excited about the program, which is intended to improve a troubled program that has long been the subject of criticism from military members. The most recent survey of the legacy moving system showed an average customer satisfaction level of 77%, according to the virtual presentation. The level of average claims satisfaction was only 41%.

Movers have argued that the contracts’ liability insurance requirements are excessive and that the federal Service Contract Act would require movers to pay employees at costly rates, making their pricing “not compensatory.” Some of the larger movers have individually indicated they would not sign up their companies for the program.

“I really think that the military thinks they know better than us how to run our businesses,” said Bill Lovejoy, CEO of San Diego-based Republic Moving and Storage, and chairman of ATA’s moving conference. “We have been doing this a little bit. If there was a better way, we’d probably come up with it.”

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There were hopes that the moving contract, awarded to Houston-based HomeSafe Alliance in March 2022 after two formal protests by a competitor, would be operational by last summer. Now it’s unknown when the contract will become fully effective, or how many large U.S. movers will individually sign up with the contractor.

The Transportation Command, which oversees the program, said it plans to roll out the initiative this summer on a very limited basis, hoping to ramp up the entire program beginning in September and getting the contract fully underway in 2025.

A HomeSafe spokeswoman said, “The [Global Household Contract] is a significant and necessary change that many military movers have embraced. HomeSafe is committed to fair compensation, and we are confident our rates are fair and provide value to our partners. We conducted a bottom-up, market-based analysis to determine viable rates for performing moves under the GHC. Hundreds of high-quality moving companies — including many in the current military move program — have independently analyzed our rates and determined they can make a profit through our program.”

ATA has said that military relocations are critical to national security and military readiness, and it is important that the process be as smooth as possible to reduce disruptions for service members and military families.

“Professional movers are concerned that instead of achieving DOD’s intended goal of incentivizing quality in the moving process, the GHC program’s economics and requirements are creating risk for military families,” an ATA spokesman said.