Two consortia that weren't selected for the Pentagon's $7.2 billion contract to handle the household goods of military personnel during moves have protested the award, a second round of objections that could delay the contract's start.
The companies, Connected Global Solutions LLC and HomeSafe Alliance LLC, filed protests July 13 with the Government Accountability Office over a U.S. Transportation Command award to American Roll On Roll Off Carrier Group, or ARC, of Parsippany, New Jersey.
The two initially filed protests in May over concerns that ARC did not meet the contract's criteria and alleged that the company didn't properly disclose its ownership. TRANSCOM rescinded the award June 9 while it investigated the allegations.
On June 29, TRANSCOM again awarded the contract to ARC after finding that it mistakenly listed a sibling company -- one convicted in 2016 of price fixing and antitrust violations -- as its parent company by choosing the wrong name from a drop-down menu in its application.
Its parent company and the sibling company have similar names, and shared the same name until 2017, when the parent Wallenius Wilhelmsen Group became a publicly traded company.
"Minor errors in the government's system of award management are not grounds for disqualification," TRANSCOM officials said.
ARC's proposal "provided the best service for the best value of service members, DoD civilians and their families," added David Dunn, a TRANSCOM public affairs specialist.
In announcing the decision, however, TRANSCOM did not declare it as final, allowing the losing bidders to protest -- and potentially delaying the contract start since the Government Accountability Office has 100 calendar days to render a decision.
The award announcement was set to kick off a nine-month transition period to shift information technology and all systems from TRANSCOM to ARC, allowing the ARC team to handle all military moves by 2021.
But because of the protests, "work on the transition phase of the contract is suspended until the GAO protest decisions are issued," Dunn said.
"We are confident the award decision will withstand GAO's scrutiny and look forward to delivering this solution to DoD families," he added.
The ARC consortium includes the parent company of United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit, called UniGroup; Atlas World Group and Atlas World Group International; the moving companies Suddath and The Pasha Group; and Deloitte.
Connected Global Solutions is a Jacksonville, Florida-based partnership between Crowley, Total Military Management and several van lines and logistics companies, including Interstate, National, Smarter Movers, Conser Moving and Storage and Agility.
HomeSafe Alliance, a relocation team coordinated by KBR of Houston, has not publicly disclosed its partnerships.
In a release, HomeSafe Alliance CEO Al Thompson said his group continues to fight the award because ARC's proposal exceeded other qualified bids "by more than $2 billion" and its subcontractors "account for only 35% of the total DoD moving market."
"With the 2021 military moving season set to be the most complex on record, it is imperative that the GAO take the appropriate action that will have the best long-term impact on military members and their families," Thompson said.
After ARC was re-awarded the contract, executives pledged to "provide turn-key, all-inclusive worldwide relocation services to service members and their families."
"Team ARC remains committed to our proposal to provide exceptional customer service to TRANSCOM and the service members," ARC CEO Eric Ebeling said. "We look forward to getting started on [the global household goods contract]."
Service members and families moving this year have been doing so under an existing construct that has U.S. Transportation Command managing the scheduling, oversight, administration and coordination of hundreds of moving companies.
The decision to outsource the entire operation followed several years of problems with military moves, including troops reporting lost and damaged goods, as well as poor customer service.
The $7.2 billion contract covers the transition period and a three-year base period. Should the contract be continued, it could be worth up to $20 billion in the next decade.