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New systems make military moves more efficient

WASHINGTON -- With the busiest season for permanent-change-of-station moves under way, officials at U.S. Transportation Command are encouraging servicemembers to take advantage of new systems designed to make the process more convenient and efficient.

Transcom launched the new Personally Procured Move, or PPM, system to better compensate servicemembers who personally move their household goods on military orders, said Dolly Davidson, a change management outreach specialist at Transcom.

PPM replaced the old "Do-It-Yourself," or DITY, move system.

Under PPM, servicemembers can receive up to 95 percent of what it would cost the government to move their goods using a commercial carrier. They can hire a commercial mover if they choose, move some or all of their goods themselves, and pocket any savings they receive.

While converting to PPM, Transcom also introduced the Defense Personal Property System, a new system to process and manage household moves.

DPS is a computerized management system for moving the household goods of military members and Department Of Defense civilians, Ms. Davidson said. It automates many steps involved in military moves: pre-move counseling, scheduling, tracking, invoicing and claims-filing for household goods shipments.

This eliminates the need for servicemembers to schedule appointments at their base to arrange their household goods moves face-to-face, she said, allowing them to make arrangements anywhere, any time.

"In DTS, you can go in 24/7. You can counsel yourself; you can put in your shipment and move arrangements; and everything else is done automatically," she said. "You can do it from your laptop, from your work station, even your living room couch. And, you can also track your shipments online, too."

And unlike the legacy paper-based system it replaces, DPS is equipped to process moves servicemembers make themselves - which constitute the vast majority of moves.

Aside from convenience, DPS is a big money-saver for the government, not only reducing PCS processing costs, but also generating lower cost estimates from many moving companies, said Roland Amos, the chief of the DPS functional and requirements branch at Transcom.

That's a big factor for the military, which spends about $2 billion a year for more than 550,000 household moves, Transcom officials said.

With all these factors in DPS' favor, Transcom officials are encouraged by the dramatic increase in its use since the PPM rollout.

"The services and the servicemembers have definitely embraced it," Ms. Davidson said. "(Usage) went up to about 50 percent right from the get-go."

Now, Ms. Davidson said, with the legacy system expected to remain operational until December along with DPS, her mission is to encourage servicemembers to choose DPS to process their moves.

With more than half of annual moves occurring between May and August, Ms. Davidson is particularly interested in getting that word out now.

"We really want them to understand the advantages, and why it's best for them," she said.

Transcom officials also encourage servicemembers to register their household-move experiences through a new online customer service survey found at http://www.move.mil.

The results will be used to help the command select the best-performing moving companies for future military moves, Ms. Davidson said.