Moving? DOD Web site is (almost) ready to help
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — What if all the work of arranging a move, choosing a carrier and tracking your boxes could be done online at any time from anywhere?
The Department of Defense is rolling out just such a system this year.
Facilities around the world — including bases in the Pacific — have already adopted the Internet-based Defense Personal Property System and are ironing out the kinks, according to the DOD’s Household Goods Systems.
Despite the conveniences being promoted, the DPS is still in its infancy. It cannot handle some moves and has raised some concerns that it does not providing enough protection against unscrupulous moving companies.
"While it’s technically online now, we’ll be using it once our personnel in Tokyo come back [from training] … to ensure full understanding in order to assist customers with inquiries," said Staff Sgt. Hon Mac, 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron Inbound Personal Property supervisor at Misawa Air Base, Japan.
Sasebo and Yokosuka naval bases in Japan said they are also learning the system.
DPS provides a "one-stop source for managing property moves" with 24-hour access to tracking and carrier information, DOD Household Goods Systems said on its Web site.
Servicemembers and DOD civilians will get full replacement value protection for property, a simplified claims process that directly links customers and carriers, and Web-based counseling services, according to U.S. Transportation Command.
There are 56 facilities inside the United States with operational DPS, according to Household Goods.
It was unclear Friday how many overseas locations now use DPS. Household Goods Systems did not return a request for comment.
DPS is slated to completely replace the old moving system — Transportation Operational Personal Property Standard System — by the end of September.
Meanwhile, the DPS rollout has revealed some problems with the system and improvements are being made, Lt. Col. William Carberry, the program manager, announced earlier this month on the DPS site.
For now, DPS cannot handle a variety of moving scenarios, including moves that include households with two servicemembers or DOD civilians, multiple shipments from a single location, and shipments from certain locations.
DPS also suffered from electronic bugs and Carberry and Household Goods Systems released a manual for patching up the problems.
“We’ve had some hiccups but we’re getting through them,” Carberry wrote in an update posting on the system.
The new system raised some concerns at Sasebo.
Personal Property Office Manager David Fletcher said it provides some “extra benefits” but also might eliminate some important support services for those who move.
Under the old TOPPS, property offices deal with moving companies and watch for overcharging, skimped services and even theft, Fletcher said.
But DPS leaves customers to settle claims and deal directly with moving companies, he said.
“Carriers can be unscrupulous,” Fletcher said. “To me, it is like giving sheep to the wolves.”
Due to budget constraints, the Sasebo office has had little training on the DPS since it was installed March 9 and now it must completely convert to the new system by April 17, he said.
Now, when customers ask for assistance, “I say this is going to take a lot longer than normal, please bear with us,” Fletcher said.
Stars and Stripes reporters T.D. Flack and David J. Carter contributed to this story.