The evolution of DOD's Defense Personal Property Program
This circa 1980s photograph freezes a moment in time when then-Military Traffic Management Command [now SDDC] launched several personal property programs to ensure Department of Defense-sponsored personal property shipments were tendered to carriers providing top quality service.

After almost 55 years of technological and procedural improvements, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Defense Personal Property Program, or DP3, provides uniformed members, federal employees and their families the highest quality household goods and privately owned vehicle moves seen to date.

But, as many service members know, it hasn't always been that way.

The Department of Defense's journey to improve this program can be traced back to July 1958. During that year, the average price for a gallon of gas was 24 cents and a postage stamp was four; DOD officials took the first step to improve efficiencies by reassigning the responsibilities of household good movements from the services and centralizing it under one agency.

As the first step to centralize and improve the household goods moving process, the then-Military Traffic Management Agency, or MTMA, created the Household Goods Branch under the General Traffic Division of the Directorate of Traffic.

In January 1962, as gas prices climbed to an average of 31 cents, MTMA was renamed Defense Traffic Management Service, or DTMS. With the new name came an expanded mission, including assigning the joint Defense Supply Agency (forerunner of Defense Logistics Agency) management of household goods in September 1963. These steps made DOD household goods moves the only DTMS mission that extended beyond the continental United States.

In 1965, television audiences watched the first season of I Dream of Jeannie and U.S. troop levels in Vietnam topped 200,000. During this year, the U.S. Army established Military Traffic Management and Terminal Service (forerunner of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command) as a single manager responsible for a variety of transportation functions for DOD. MTMTS assumed the responsibility of managing the DOD Household Goods program for service members by consolidating a large number of directives spread across the services and combining them into one standard, creating a moving and storage program for DOD members. The directive also included monitoring the quality of carrier performance.

From the late 1950s into the 1960s, the definition of household goods grew to include crated and uncrated furniture and appliances, house trailers, unaccompanied baggage, personal effects, and professional books. Recognizing this expanded scope, MTMTS re-designated the Household Goods Directorate as the Directorate of Personal Property Traffic in October 1966. The name "Personal Property" has remained ever since.

The late 1960s brought signs of progress in Personal Property management, although challenges remained. Gains in efficiencies throughout the years started saving money for the department and cost avoidances were generated when MTMTS negotiated lower rates for volume moves.

In 1966, MTMTS launched a plan to develop 12 new automated systems that would combine with three existing systems to analyze carrier performance, rates and trends and generate a report. The Worldwide Household Goods Information System for Traffic Management, or WHIST, was the first effort to monitor and apply such large-scale data in a comprehensive way to improve service and save money by cutting duplication. Seven of the planned 15 subsystems were operational by mid-1967 and two more were up and running two years later.

In 1969, Americans watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk the surface of the moon on live television and MTMTS tested the potential development of a Carrier Performance Rating system based on service, time and cost. The CPR system was made possible by integrating data from the WHIST system.

MTMTS was re-designated Military Traffic Management Command in July 1974, and toward the end of the decade, automation was being considered to improve the program.

MTMC continued experimentations. In May 1975, the command introduced the Carrier Evaluation and Reporting System to assess and set a standard to carrier performance. By the end of 1976, CERS was in use at all continental U.S. installation collecting data on carriers. CERS ultimately was deployed to overseas installations but due to sharp criticism about its scoring system, CERS was taken out of service by the end of the 1980s.

AUTOMATION: THE NEW BUZZWORD

February 1977 was a time when disco music was popular and DOD approved a concept plan called the Transportation Operational Personal Property Standard System, better known as TOPS, setting the stage for a new era of managing personal property moves. MTMC convened and presided over a joint committee to oversee the development of TOPS. However, pressures during the post-Vietnam era of tight DOD budgets slowed the development of the system.

When funding began to free up in 1980-81, MTMC wrote a statement of work to build the future system. How TOPS would be developed became an issue across the services. Initiatives to have the Navy, Marines and the Air Force each independently develop aspects of the system led MTMC to persuade DOD to have the Department of Transportation's Transportation Systems Center conduct an economic analysis of TOPS options.

Throughout 1988, the average price for a gallon of gas hovered around the 95-cent mark, postage stamps spiked to 25 cents and the investigative television program 48 Hours debuted. That same year, Military Traffic Management Command introduced TOPS as the technologically supported personal property management program for defense members. The program reached an initial operating capability at 12 sites in 1990. Program administrators in the 1990s saw TOPS as a big step forward capitalizing on the technology available at the time.

Standardizing moves with TOPS eventually meant a structured common counseling experience between Personal Property Shipping Office, or PPSO, counselors and DOD members with the system routinely generating the required forms. TOPS was also designed with an electronic sharing of information between PPSOs so that move records arrived at the next duty station long before the incoming member. With a central database, TOPS enabled clerks to process members from all services and to obtain the latest information available in the database.

By mid-1992, TOPS had spread to half the PPSOs in the Continental United States.

Enhancements to TOPS were made in 1994-1996 to include tracing personal property shipments through surface and aerial ports and managing specialty movements such as privately owned vehicles and "do it yourself" moves. By September 1994, 260 PPSOs in the country operated under TOPS.

In March 1995, TOPS was installed at 13 overseas locations in Europe and the Western Pacific with plans to extend it to 70 sites worldwide.

TOPS' potential to enhance DOD members' quality of life was evident during the response to Hurricane Andrew, which struck Southern Florida in August 1992.

Four TOPS technicians at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., aided by computers, cut off the previous paper driven process to direct and record the pickup of household goods for 4,400 Air Force members and their families being evacuated from the base.

The summer of 1994 brought a challenging "peak" moving season, especially for military members and civilian employees in the National Capital Region. Several factors -- a severe winter, ongoing post-Cold War defense drawdown and an improving economy increasing overall demand for moves -- resulted in potential delays of up to 30 days in arranging "normal" rotation moves in the region. Today, DOD experiences 520,000 personal property moves each year, of which, 250,000 moves occur between May and August, also known as peak moving season.

By 1995, TOPS was 85 percent functional with full functionality scheduled for the end of December 1996, and the program continued as the standard for booking, shipping and storing service members' household goods up to the launch of DP3 in November 2008.

TOPPING TOPS

In June 1995, two months after the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, Congress directed the Pentagon to conduct pilot programs that would seek higher levels of service by using "best practice" standards while also considering the needs of small businesses. The pilot programs were based on contracts written using the Federal Acquisition Regulation, which allowed the government to have long-term relationships with service providers, to base contracts on factors other than price, and to hold contractors accountable for the quality of their service.

Four pilot programs were tested between 1997 and 2002.

In June 2002, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command recommended to Congress that the DOD Personal Property program be re-engineered based on the promising results of the four pilot programs. This proposal envisioned starting the new program in 2005 with three key features. First, to improve carrier performance, future moves would be awarded on a standard of "best value." Second, efficiency would be promoted by simplifying the customer claims process. Third, an integrated information system would be developed to permit customers, carriers and DOD representatives to interact directly on a day-to-day basis.

In April 2004, four months after MTMC was renamed Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, or SDDC, Phase I of the then-named Families First program was implemented. The goal of Phase 1 was to improve the electronic billing and payment process in the current program using a Central Web Application. Along with improving electronic billing, an interim Customer Satisfaction Survey was introduced, as well.

In February 2006, a year before SDDC Headquarters relocated from Alexandria, Va., to Scott Air Force Base, Ill., the Families First program was placed in a "Strategic Pause" to address system development issues.

In November 2008, SDDC launched Families First to 17 sites which began the incremental replacement of the legacy TOPS. The name lasted only a few months due to a copyright infringement and was renamed the Defense Personal Property Program, or DP3, in early-2009.

In April 2009, Phase II of DP3 was implemented and the deployment of the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS, was launched. DPS is managed by USTRANSCOM and is the technology side supporting DP3, giving the program a one-stop shop for managing personal property moves. The website, move.mil, is the portal between DPS, customers and transportation service providers and dedicated to manage the entire move process.

Throughout SDDC's 48 year history, the command perpetually worked to improve automation and benefits of the personal property program including quality and improved communications.
SDDC remains committed to providing a quality personal property moving experience for DOD service members, U.S. Coast Guard, Federal employees, and their families.

Today's DP3 benefits include full replacement and repair value for damaged or lost household goods at no additional cost; on-line claims filing and direct claims settlement between member and transportation service providers; best value acquisition of transportation services (through the Customer Satisfaction Survey), improved communications between customers, transportation service providers and military personal property offices; and a web-based entitlements counseling option.

TIMELINE

July 1, 1958: The Military Traffic Management Agency, or MTMA, created the Household Goods Branch under the General Traffic Division of the Directorate of Traffic as the first step to centralize and improve the household goods moving process.

February 15, 1965: Military Traffic Management and Terminal Service (now SDDC) was established as the single manager agency for a variety of transportation functions for all services to include efficient and economical movement of servicemen's entire household goods and privately owned vehicles from one duty station to another.

October 25, 1966: MTMTS re-designated the Household Goods Directorate as the Directorate of Personal Property Traffic -- the name personal property has remained ever since. MTMTS also launched a plan to develop 12 new automated systems that would combine with three existing systems to analyze carrier performance, rates and trends and generate a report. The Worldwide Household Goods Information System for Traffic Management, or WHIST, was the first effort to monitor and apply such large-scale data in a comprehensive way to improve service and save money by cutting duplication. Seven of the planned 15 subsystems were operational by mid-1967 and two more were up and running two years later.

By 1969 MTMTS tested the potential development of a Carrier Performance Rating system based on service, time and cost. The CPR system was made possible by integrating data from the WHIST system.

Mid-1971: Publication of the Department of Defense Personal Property Traffic Management Regulation on responsibilities and procedures is published. Its purpose is to prescribe uniform procedures for the movement and storage of household good, unaccompanied baggage, mobile homes, privately owned vehicles, and firearms.

July 31, 1974: MTMTS re-designated as Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC).

In April 1976: Carrier Evaluation and Reporting System Test Plan launches evaluating carrier performance within the United States at 11 test sites. Test program finished around May 1978 and is kept.

In May 1980: Prior to the 1980s, there were only a few freight forwarders participating in the DOD Domestic Household Goods program. During this month, there were 12 freight forwarders with DOD approval for domestic traffic.

In October 1982: Prompt Payment Act goes into effect requiring financial centers of each service to pay interest on any outstanding personal property Government Bill of Lading over 30 days old.

In December 1982: The Department of Transportation, Transportation Systems Center signs-on to assist MTMC in the development of an automated personal property management system. Together, TSC and MTMC will validate the functional requirements and design options for an improved Transportation Operation Personal Property Standard System, or better known as TOPS.

In December 1988: Transportation Operational Personal Property Standard System launches DOD's first technologically supported personal property program.

In March 1989: 129 freight forwarders and 104 international forwarders are approved for domestic traffic.

By 1990: TOPS program reached an initial operating capability of 12 sites in the United States.

Mid-1992: More than 100 Personal Property Shipping Offices, or PPSO, in the U.S. are managing personal property moves using TOPS.

February 1, 1993: MTMC's Personal Property Directorate was inactivated and became a division under an enlarged Operations Directorate as part of a major cutback at Headquarters MTMC that overall eliminated some 700 positions.

In September 1994: 260 Personal Property Shipping Offices in the U.S. are managing moves using TOPS.

In March 1995: TOPS is installed at 13 European and Western Pacific locations with plans to extend it to 70 sites worldwide.

From 1994 - 1996: Enhancements to TOPS are made introducing tracking Personal Property shipments through surface and aerial ports and managing specialty movements (i,e, privately owned vehicles and "do it yourself" moves). Full operational capability of TOPS at all DOD PPSOs was reached in 1996.

From 1997 - 2002: Four pilot programs were tested.

March 1, 1999 -- In recognition of its importance, Personal Property regained its status as a Directorship on 1 March 1999, six years after it became a Division under MTMC Operations.

In June 2002: The commander of U.S. Transportation Command recommended to Congress that the DOD Personal Property program be re-engineered based on the promising results of the four pilot programs. This proposal envisioned starting the new program in 2005 with three key features. First, to improve carrier performance, future moves would be awarded on a standard of "best value." Second, efficiency would be promoted by simplifying the customer claims process. Third, an integrated information system would be developed to permit customers, carriers and DOD representatives to interact directly on a day-to-day basis.

In July 2002: A meeting of services representatives, industry leaders, USTRANSCOM officials and members of MTMC's Personal Property Directorate leadership agreed on a program of action. This blueprint set the objective of persuading Congress to authorize payment of Full Replacement Value to DOD personnel for damaged or lost household goods.

From August -- December 2002: A Concept of Operations outlining Families First, Phase I, process was developed. Key elements are Electronic Bill Payments and the Central Web Application. In December, the CONOPS was briefed to the four services and U.S. Coast Guard and achieved their buy-in of the concept program.

November 26, 2003: The initial victory was won in Congress with the passage of the "The Full Replacement Value Act of 2003." This amendment to Title 10 authorized the payment of full replacement value for lost or damaged household goods in a DOD move and permitted the Department to deduct the replacement cost from the amount otherwise due to the Transportation Service Provider (TSP) if the company did not settle the claim by the military member or DOD employee.

January 1, 2004: MTMC is re-designated as Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
In April 2004: Families First Phase I is implemented -- This is the first move toward implementing the reengineered Personal Property program. The goal of Phase 1 is to improve the electronic billing and payment process in the current program using a Central Web Application, move.mil, and PowerTrack. Along with improving electronic billing, an Interim Customer Satisfaction Survey was introduced during this phase.

In February 2006: The Families First program is scheduled to launch but is placed in a "Strategic Pause" due to system development issues. Families First is designed to unite the moving industry, the Services and SDDC in a sensible and cooperative manner to achieve the goal of providing the best customer service to the American service member when moving their household goods and privately owned vehicles.

August 19, 2008: The first move using DPS was conducted 19 Aug for a U.S. Air Force member. The feedback by observers who witnessed the counseling session for this move was that it worked great but could be more user-friendly leading to a revision in the self-counseling module in DPS.

In November 2008: Families First launches to 17 sites as DOD's reengineered household goods moving program. The name changed from Families First to Defense Personal Property Programs, DP3, early-2009 due to a copyright infringement. This launch begins the incremental replacement of the legacy Transportation Operational Personal Property Standard System. Benefits in DP3 include Full Replacement and Repair Value for damaged/lost household goods at no additional cost, on-line claims filing and direct claims settlement between member/employees and transportation service providers, best value acquisition of transportation services (through the Customer Satisfaction Survey), improved communications between customers, transportation service providers and military personal property offices, and web-based entitlements counseling option.

In April 2009: DP3 Phase II is implemented - Deployment of the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS, is launched and is designed to automate and simplify the moving process for DP3. DPS is managed by U.S. Transportation Command and is the backbone of DP3 as a one-stop source for managing personal property moves. The website, move.mil, is the interface between DPS, customers and transportation service providers and offers 24-hour access throughout the entire move process.

In 2009: Two percent of moves were managed using DPS and 98 percent managed under TOPS.

In 2010: 70 percent of moves were managed through DPS.

In 2011: 95 percent of moves were managed through DPS.

In 2012: 97 percent of moves were managed through DPS.

Page last updated Mon March 11th, 2013 at 10:29