DoD’s long-delayed household goods moving contract faces yet another protest

The Defense Department’s ambitious effort to restructure the military’s household goods moving system faced another potential setback Tuesday as a losing bidder lodged a new legal challenge to the multibillion dollar Global Household Goods contract (GHC).

American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group (ARC), one of the losing bidders in the latest GHC competition, said it had filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office. The filing asks GAO to recommend overturning the $6.2 billion award DoD made earlier this month to HomeSafe Alliance, LLC.

The company said in a statement that its bid proposal “remains superior and provides the best customer service solution for service members and their families. Team ARC stands ready to provide all personnel, equipment, technology, facilities, tools, materials, supervision, and other items and services necessary to provide a turnkey, all-inclusive moving service.”

ARC did not immediately respond to a request for details about which specific aspects of the award process it believes were improper and what its legal bases for the protest are.

U.S. Transportation Command first awarded the contract to ARC in April 2020, but HomeSafe and another bidder, Connected Global Solutions, protested the contract. GAO upheld both companies’ challenges in October 2020, finding the initial award was plagued by “pervasive” violations of federal contracting rules, including a failure to do enough due diligence to ensure ARC was a responsible bidder.

TRANSCOM took another year to reevaluate the companies’ proposals before deciding to award the contract to HomeSafe instead.

When it awarded the contract earlier this month, the command said it expected new moves under the GHC construct to begin sometime in late calendar year 2022. It remained unclear Tuesday how the latest protest would affect that schedule. Under GAO’s procedures, the office has 100 days to affirm or deny protests. But even if the office upholds the contract, ARC or another losing bidder could still choose to pursue a protest before the Court of Federal Claims.

TRANSCOM first issued the GHC request for proposals nearly two years ago as part of a reform effort to fix longstanding problems in the military moving system, including routinely delayed shipments and frequent damage claims.

In general, officials believe they can fix many of the system’s problems by putting a single system integrator in charge of managing the entire military household goods moving enterprise, including its relationships with thousands of local moving companies. That’s a stark contrast to how the system operates now, where DoD contracts with firms on a move-by-move basis, with no global visibility over the transportation system.

“This is an opportunity to raise the standard for our families, attract quality capacity to the program, and introduce a level of accountability absent today,” Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command said in a statement earlier this month. “Once implemented, this contract will positively impact thousands of service members, civilian employees and their families each year.”

The contract could be worth up to $20 billion if DoD exercises all of its options over a nine-year period, HomeSafe co-owner KBR told investors shortly after the award announcement.

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