SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Illinois (March 17, 2015) -- Preparation for the upcoming peak moving season for service members has begun and officials in charge of the Department of Defense's household goods moving program, the Defense Personal Property Program, want to remind everyone that the summer months can be a challenging time for moving.

The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Personal Property Directorate is the DOD's executive agent and program administrator for the program. SDDC manages about 530,000 personal property shipments per year, of which about 240,000 moves are processed during the peak moving season which runs from May through August.

The Defense Personal Property Program, or DP3, has provided service members, federal employees, and their families with a higher quality move experience since November 2008. At that time, the program was reengineered into a more streamlined process of counseling and booking of personal property moves using the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS, which is accessed via the website Move.mil.

"We know moving can be a stressful time and we want them to know what they can do to help make the process go as smoothly as possible," said Navy Captain Aaron Stanley, director of SDDC's Personal Property Directorate. "We're reaching out to remind folks what they can do to help us help them."

There are two ways customers can submit their application for a government move.

The first is the traditional visit to the local installation Personal Property Shipping Office (PPSO) to receive a relocation briefing and start the move process. In many cases, the PPSO may provide computer terminals or assist customers with creating their application in DPS, which is a critical component the customer will need to access throughout the move.

The second way is for the customer to use DPS, which is accessed through the website, Move.mil. Move.mil is the portal for DPS and the one-stop shop where customers can manage their entire move process without ever visiting a PPSO.

According to Daniel Martinez, branch chief of the Personal Property Directorate's Quality Assurance Division, the keys to making a peak season move go smoothly are diligent planning, attention to detail and flexibility.

"Planning ahead can help reduce many of the stressors associated with moving; and this year, we want to remind people the key is for you to start planning as soon as you know you'll be changing duty assignments. It is critical that customers create their move application as soon as they receive their military orders. Any delays in submitting their application, whether in person or via the web-based DPS can make it more difficult for the transportation office to meet their requested pick up date. Customers still need their PCS orders before finalizing DPS self-counseling, but starting their DPS application as soon as possible after receiving their assignment notification is key," added Martinez.

SDDC offers Moving Tips

- Three key factors ensuring a less stressful move during the peak season are early diligent planning, attention to detail and flexibility.

- Once you get orders, immediately start your moving process for a better chance to lock in your preferred pick up and delivery dates.

- Create a personal move calendar with checklists, phone numbers, dates, and important web links.

- Ask questions early. Accessing DPS places you in direct contact with your commercial carrier to manage your personal property move. It is extremely important to keep your phone number and e-mail address updated so that you can be contacted if changes arise with your shipment.

- Requested pick up and delivery dates are not confirmed until you and your commercial carrier mutually agree on the actual pack and pick up dates.

- Pack, pick up and delivery dates are normally scheduled on weekdays. You or your designated representative must be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Longer hours may be required in some cases.

- After your move is completed, please take a few minutes to answer and submit the seven question Customer Satisfaction Survey. This survey currently accounts for 70 percent of each Transportation Service Provider's performance score. By submitting your CSS, you play a direct role in keeping quality movers in the program and identifying poor performers.

- When possible, do not ship small, extremely valuable items such as stocks, bonds, jewelry, coins/coin collections and/or gold bullion (bars). If shipping high value items, keep them visible until the high value inventory sheet and inventory are prepared.

- Customers using the Move.mil portal for the first time will find online training videos and presentations explaining how to navigate through the move process. Customers should be aware that creating their application in the DPS system can present challenges, especially for first time users. Commonly cited issues include browser compatibility, locked accounts and unfamiliarity with navigating through the counseling module. Customers must use Internet Explorer 6/7/8, Firefox v3.6 and Safari v4.x for Windows XP/Vista/7; Unix/Linux, and Mac OS X. Changes to ETA, the Electronic Transition Acquisition system, now allow customers to reset their passwords.

- Answers to many Move.mil portal questions and help for DPS can be found on the website under "FAQs," however, members can also contact the System Response Center help desk at (800) 462-2176 or 618-220-SDDC; https://www.sddc-srchelpme.com/ or send an email message to sddc.safb.dpshd@us.army.mil, if they need additional help.

Moving in the summer months is extremely busy, with Memorial Day to Independence Day being the busiest part of the peak season. Since requested pickup and delivery dates may not be available during this time, flexibility is key, and building extra time into your schedule for unforeseen circumstances is recommended.

"If a customer has questions about their household goods move or needs help that isn't posted on the Move.mil website, the installation PPSO can direct them to various resources," Martinez said. "Based on the customer's branch of service, assistance could also come from a household goods call center, a specific PPSO or from SDDC's Systems Response Center if the issue requires DPS technical assistance."

For those who experience technical problems while using DPS, the System Response Center help desk is there to help. Call (800) 462-2176 or 618-220-SDDC, or send an email message to sddc.safb.dpshd@us.army.mil.

Benefits in DP3 include full replacement valuation for damaged or lost household goods at no additional cost to customers; on-line claims filing and direct claims settlement between customers and commercial carriers; best value acquisition of transportation services (through a combination of rate and performance evaluations); improved communications between customers, commercial carriers and military personal property offices; and a Web-based entitlement counseling option.