Army Leaders to Be Briefed on Findings from Household Goods Shipment Study

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NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka household goods team assists sailors.
Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka household goods team assists unaccompanied sailors in the barracks. (U.S. Navy/ Brandon Taylor)

Military families hoping to see an increased maximum weight allowance for household goods shipments will need to wait a little longer for any announcement, Army officials said Tuesday.

The Army launched a cost-benefit analysis of household goods shipments and overages last year, looking at weight utilization, overages and fines. The service sorted the data by demographics, including across rank, family size, family income and other metrics, to determine whether the current weight limits should be adjusted or overage charges reduced or eliminated.

Results and recommendations are being presented to senior leadership across the military services, according to Maj. Gen. Michel Russell, director of operations in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4.

He declined to disclose the recommendations or say whether he thought they would be adopted during a call with reporters Tuesday.

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"We have done the analysis, we are going to start briefing the analysis, and then from [there], we will determine what are the best courses of action," Russell said.

Last October, during a meeting of the Association of the United States Army, Russell said he hoped a decision would be made before the 2021 military moving season, which runs from roughly mid-May through the beginning of August.

He said discussing any recommendations would be "very predecisional" and "may not be where we go."

"When you make changes that affect joint travel regulations, it's not a single service that can affect the change. It's a process. You have to have the other services be in agreement, or at least have a quorum in agreement," Russell said.

Service members are allotted a certain amount of weight for their household goods shipments based on rank and family size. The amounts range from 5,000 pounds for a single E-1 to 18,000 pounds for an officer the rank of colonel or captain and above, with or without a family.

Members who go over their allowance may face thousands of dollars in fines based on the overage amounts.

No significant changes have been made to the weight allowance for military families since 2008, when military spouses were allotted 500 pounds for professional books or equipment that didn’t count against their families’ allowance.

Russell did not rule out the possibility that changes to the weight limits could come before the PCS season starts in less than two months.

Pointing to a change made last year to raise the reimbursement amount for "do-it-yourself moves" from 95% to 100%, Russell said the Army could choose to raise weight allowances in a temporary change that later would be made permanent.

Roughly 72,000 soldiers and families moved last year -- a smaller than anticipated number due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The service expects that 90,000 will PCS in 2021. To ease the process, the service has set a goal of issuing orders 120 days before the date of check-in at a new duty station and it has created an Army Relocation Advisory Committee made up of Army leadership and a couple of family members, to provide insight and advice on Army moves.

Officials are encouraging service members to use a new Army-developed PCS app that contains resources and references for moves "all in one place," Russell said.

According to Russell, the app has been downloaded 13,000 times.

The Army performed quality assurance inspections on 95% of moves in 2020 and plans for the same level of scrutiny in 2021, he said.

“Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. [James] McConville has a people philosophy and a quality-of-life campaign, and he has made the household goods experience an integral part of how he will retain talent and improve the household goods experience for our families and service members," Russell said.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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