TRANSCOM to stick with troubled car-shipper despite troops' complaints

by Mike Fitzgerald, Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat (Tribune News Service)
Stripes Guam

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (Tribune News Service) — Thanks to “significant performance improvement” since October, the U.S. Transportation Command plans to continue to use troubled car-shipper International Auto Logistics after meeting last week with IAL executives and reviewing the firm’s plans for improving its performance during the upcoming summer months, TRANSCOM has announced.

IAL on May 1 began to implement the almost $1 billion, five-year contract awarded by TRANSCOM, based at Scott, to move military personnel’s privately-owned vehicles to overseas duty stations and back. Almost from the start, however, IAL and TRANSCOM were besieged with customer complaints about late deliveries and vehicle damage.

Gen. Paul Selva, TRANSCOM‘s commander, and other top TRANSCOM leaders met with IAL executives at TRANSCOM headquarters on Thursday.

Based on IAL’s plan for handling car shipments during the peak volume months of late spring and summer, and its improved performance, TRANSCOM “believes IAL has made the necessary process improvements to adequately manage the 2015 Permanent Change of Station peak moving season,” the command announced in a written statement.

The peak moving season for servicemembers and their families begins in May and ends in September.

Discussions between TRANSCOM and IAL, of Brunswick, Ga., “remain open, frank, and constructive,” according to the statement. “IAL fully understands the current operational picture and what must be accomplished moving forward.”

TRANSCOM and its U.S. Army component, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, continue to monitor IAL’s performance to ensure the company performs to the standards outlined in its contract, according to the statement.

In recent months, IAL has faced some big challenges as it seeks to deal with the problems that have led to missing promised delivery dates for its customers and reports of damaged vehicles. During the past two months, it has parted ways with two of its key subcontractors — North Carolina-based Fayetteville Vehicle Processing Center & Storage and ocean-freight company Liberty Global Logistics LLC, of Lake Success, N.Y. — as a result of payment disputes.

Selva announced in August that he had directed site survey teams to visit vehicle-processing centers around the globe to look for missing cars entrusted to IAL.

TRANSCOM reported four weeks later that the on-time delivery of military members’ privately-owned cars had improved dramatically. Nonetheless, many military members continued to complain, especially those who had entrusted their cars to IAL before Aug. 1 and were still waiting to see them two months later.

In mid-December, the Department of Defense Inspector General's office announced it would be sending an audit team to Scott by the end of that month to look at performance complaints concerning IAL.

The Defense Department audit team will be looking at the U.S. TRANSCOM's Global Privately Owned Vehicle Contract III, under whose auspices the command awarded an almost $1 billion vehicle-shipping contract to IAL. The auditors will look at multiple vehicle-processing centers, according to a project announcement letter issued by Michael J. Roark, the department's assistant inspector general.

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