'Every Box Was Smashed': After Thousands Of Complaints, The Pentagon Is Reforming Military Moves
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / May 9, 2019
The Pentagon is planning to hire a single private company to oversee the moving process for military families. The current system is plagued by delays, lost shipments, theft, and a lack of accountability.
Speaker 1: 00:00 After years of complaints, the Pentagon is trying to reform the way it manages the moving process for military families. The current system is plagued by delays, lost shipments, theft and a lack of accountability. As Carson frame reports for the American Home Front project, Andrea Cocho in her family are finally settling into their new home at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. After a difficult move last summer, the army transferred conchos husband from a base in Kentucky and paid to move all of the families possessions to their new home. But things got off to a rocky start. Cocho says the company assigned to pack the household, showed up late and did a careless job. The corners of the boxes were like bulging. My husband's a medic so we actually, we only had medical tape in the house but I put medical tape on top of their packing tape cause it was just not sticking to the boxes.
Speaker 1: 00:55 After the shipment left Kentucky, it took months for it to get to the cat shows in Virginia. A trip that normally takes about 10 hours. The items changed hands repeatedly with four companies responsible for packing, trucking and warehousing them. By the time they arrived, they'd been damaged to the tune of about $4,000 every box was smashed. There was a water damage. There is mod like our wedding photo or TV. Everything was shattered. Military families have long complained about the poor quality of their moves. Last August one spouse circulated a change.org petition pushing Congress to hold moving companies accountable. It went viral gathering more than a hundred thousand signatures that forced the military to rethink its approach. General Steven Lions' heads, US transportation command or trans comm, the part of the Defense Department responsible for household moves. He says there were too many offices involved and that makes it hard for the military to manage movers and there's little quality control to make sure companies with spotty records don't keep getting work
Speaker 2: 01:57 today. If you were to look at the way we manage this program and the department completely diffused, completely decentralized, every service is running her own thing is there's no enterprise approach. A carrier can be suspended over here working over here.
Speaker 1: 02:10 Now Trans Comm wants to hire what it calls a single move manager by the summer of 2021 it's a private company that would build networks within the moving industry and oversee contracting. The Canadian and UK militaries already used programs like it. Rear Admiral Pete Clark of Trans Comm says the current system is so complex and overregulated that movers often don't want to take part. He says that's why there's a shortage of quality movers during peak seasons. The primary premise is that the single move manager who will be an industry expert, we'll remove the barriers for entry that the government has put in place, but the change worry. Some advocates, Kelly Raska of the National Military Family Association says she's not sure which problem trans comm is trying to solve. The most common complaint we're hearing
Speaker 3: 03:00 is a quality issue too. Few transportation providers, a lot of broken items and that the claims process is overly burdensome. So I'm not exactly sure how outsourcing the management is going to solve all of the other problems.
Speaker 1: 03:21 Roscoe says military families weren't adequately consulted about the changes and they're concerned that the military has so few specifics about a program that's supposed to start soon. Andrea Cocho says the stakes are high for fixing the problem because bad moves are more than just an inconvenience. They're affecting the military's mission. I know personally multiple people that were like, okay, we're just going to get out of the military after this term because of the move. So then you're losing your soldiers. The single move manager system is still in its infancy in June. The Defense Department plans to get bids for moving in logistics companies. The military still needs to work out a lot of details, but expects the system will do a better job getting service members possessions to their new homes safely. This is Carson frame reporting.
Speaker 4: 04:06 This story was produced by the American Home Front project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veteran's funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting.
Speaker 5: 04:20 Yeah,
Speaker 4: 04:22 Facebook cofounder. Chris Hughes is calling for the company to be broken up. Use helped develop the newsfeed algorithm and a New York Times op ed today. He writes that at the time he never predicted it would be used to spread quote, fringe political views and fake news. Facebook has been trying to get out in front of calls for a breakup promising to refocus the company more on private messaging. The question now is what are the encryption? That's the hallmark of those apps will actually make it harder for regulators and even Facebook itself to track the problems on its platform. Rachel Myro has more from Kq eds, silicon valley desk, a number of civil liberties advocates say it's about time. Maybe it's not such a bad thing for us to switch to platforms where it's on us to police ourselves. Insurer is editor at large of Cnet News. What do we feel is appropriate?
Speaker 4: 05:14 What isn't and how do we draw these lines? Right now we're abdicating that to Facebook and Twitter and Youtube and Instagram and all these other people. WHATSAPP is encrypted now. Facebook is promising messenger and Instagram direct will become so to now. It's not impossible for social media giants to eaves drop on encrypted conversations by saving a record of everything in a non encrypted environment where artificial intelligence can look for keywords and trends. But keeping up with problematic content is going to be a lot harder unless somebody inside the conversation flags it. For Facebook, you can have a whatsapp group that has two people and you can also have a whatsapp group that has 250 people the ladder it that this information can often spread a lot faster. That's Robyn Caplan with the data and society research institute in New York. Facebook has taken steps to reduce the spread of fake news on Whatsapp, which has fueled mob violence in countries like India. Me and Martin Srilanka in January, Facebook limited how many whatsapp conversations you can forward messages to at once. So now you can reach roughly 1300 people with a single message as opposed to 65,000 before. These platforms are going to police content regardless. And what we need is more oversight and more mechanisms to understand what they're doing behind the scenes. Um, because if not, it's really just left up to them entirely and left up to us as individuals using these private platforms. That was Kq Edis Rachel Myro reporting.