Defense TransportationEfforts to Improve DOD's Personal Property Program Gao ID: T-NSIAD-99-106 March 18, 1999
The Defense Department (DOD) has since 1994 been trying to reengineer its program for relocating military personnel and their families. DOD's goal has been to simplify processes, control program costs, ensure quality service by adopting commercial business practices, and relieve carriers of terms and conditions unique to the military. The U.S. Transportation Command is responsible for evaluating the pilot programs to determine which of them could provide better results for DOD. This testimony discusses the Army's Hunter pilot and DOD's plans to evaluate other ongoing and planned pilot programs. In assessing the Army's evaluation of the Hunter pilot, GAO focuses on the evaluation methodology and the Army Audit Agency's validation of the test and baseline data.
GAO noted that: (1) GAO agreed that DOD needs to reengineer its personal property moving process to improve the poor quality of service military members are receiving; (2) GAO supports the use of pilots as a means to test new concepts; (3) although this process has been ongoing since the early 1990s, DOD is not yet in a position to determine what changes are needed; (4) GAO was unable to validate the reported results of the Army's evaluation of the Hunter pilot because of weaknesses in the evaluation methodology and the data; (5) however, the lessons learned from the pilot do provide information that should be useful to DOD as it assesses and conducts its pilot efforts; (6) the Hunter pilot provides military personnel with services that were not previously available during the moving process, including personal move counseling and coordination, full replacement value for lost or damaged household goods, and visibility of the shipment throughout the move; (7) key pilot results that GAO was unable to validate included the level of customer satisfaction and costs; (8) although customer surveys were conducted, the results were inconclusive because of the methods used; (9) while the Army indicated that the estimated pilot cost was higher than the baseline cost, GAO could not validate the extent to which the pilot cost exceeded the baseline cost; (10) GAO could not calculate the baseline and pilot costs due to weaknesses in the Army's methodology and data reliability; (11) as for the participation of small businesses, GAO confirmed that 33 percent of the pilot shipments were awarded by Cendent Mobility to small business carriers and agents; (12) DOD has three pilot programs under way to improve its personal property program and is proposing a fourth pilot; (13) the general plan is to evaluate the results of these pilots and use that information to develop a redesigned Department-wide relocation program; (14) to achieve this objective, it is imperative that DOD develop a well thought out strategy with clear time lines for testing each of the approaches, and more importantly, an evaluation methodology that will produce credible and accurate information to be used in making a final decision; and (15) plans for accomplishing these tasks and milestones for implementing a new process have not yet been finalized.