By Mark DiamondNovember 27, 2012
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - According to Army transportation experts assigned to Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, U.S. military units with equipment that is lost, damaged or destroyed during transport have another good reason to complete a Transportation Discrepancy Report, also known as a TDR.
TDRs are accomplished to document loss or damage to government cargo to support the filing of claims against commercial carriers for government reimbursement. The program is governed by Chapter 210 of the Defense Transportation Regulation.
According to David Jones, a lead traffic management specialist assigned to SDDC's Strategic Business Directorate, the TDR program, and Chapter 210, have recently undergone some significant changes.
Until recently, when SDDC recovered costs associated with damaged or lost cargo, the money was transferred directly to the U.S. Treasury; the unit that owned the cargo was not reimbursed, but was still responsible for repairing or replacing the equipment at the expense of the U.S. government.
He said thanks to the efforts of SDDC and U.S. Transportation Command, TDR funds recovered from commercial carriers, with only a few exceptions, are now returned to the unit.
Some military units are already seeing the benefits of their TDR submissions, according to Jones.
He said SDDC is returning about $500,000 in recovered money to military units, including $40,000 to Fort Campbell, $17,000 to the Air Force, and $400,000 to Army Materiel Command. He added that the command has already returned $41,000 to Fort Knox, Ky., $58,000 to the U.S. Marine Corps, $176,000 to Army Intermodal Distribution Platform Management Office, and about $700,000 in recovered transportation charges was returned to the Transportation Working Capital Fund.
Jones said returning the money directly to the unit is a huge incentive, and he can't see any reason why units would not submit a TDR.
Christopher Trejo agrees. Trejo is a traffic manager and Quality Assurance Office team lead assigned to SDDC's 598th Transportation Brigade.
"From a practical standpoint, why would [a unit not submit a TDR]?" Trejo said. "It should be treated no different than when [someone] orders a parcel, but [they] never receive it. Would you allow the mailing company to get away with it; especially after you have paid for the goods and for the delivery service? Units should treat their equipment the same way."
Trejo is very familiar with the TDR process. Within the European Command and Africa Command areas of responsibility, he and his team at the 598th Trans. Bde. have received 265 discrepancy claims amounting to more than $12.5 million.
Trejo added that most of the credit for their success can be attributed to team members Chris Donohue and Vicky Matthaiou. He said he and Donohue launched the first brigade TDR and authored the first TDR Standard Operating Procedure. Matthaiou, on the other hand, is recognized as the brigade's TDR subject matter expert, managing the program and independently providing guidance to various military units.
THE COMPLETE PACKAGE
Jones said he hopes returning recovered TDR funds directly to the units is enough incentive for units to follow through on their missing or damaged cargo claims, especially in today's fiscal environment.
Ensuring a TDR is processed in an appropriate amount of time is another matter.
He said a single TDR can be processed in as little as three or four months, as long as his team receives a complete package, which isn't always the case. He said helping units submit complete and accurate TDRs is something SDDC takes seriously.
"We have to justify all damages and prove that [the damage or loss] happened while [the cargo] was in the possession of the carrier," Jones explained. "If we can do that, we can issue a request for payment to the carrier, which outlines not only the damages, but in some cases, the transportation charges, as well."
One problem SDDC transportation experts often see is inaccurate or missing repair or replacement estimates.
"We get a lot of packages where the unit says it will cost $1,000 for repair, but they can't show us how they came up with that figure. The [TDR] package needs to be as complete as possible, including actual repair estimates, booking documents, in-transit visibility information, interchange receipts, temperature reports ... it can be any number of documents."
Trejo added that he cannot emphasize enough, "Documentation, documentation, documentation! It is imperative all transportation documents are completed, but more importantly, that the correct information is annotated. A good TDR claim will, for the most part, have all the right documents with the correct and relevant information."
SDDC manages the TDR program, and for good reason: as the Army component command to USTRANSCOM, SDDC is responsible for transporting more than 90 percent of all Department of Defense cargo. In 2012, that equated to more than 6.8 million square feet of cargo into the U.S. Central Command theater, and the redeployment of nearly 8 million square feet of unit and retrograde cargo; enough cargo to fill up 308 football fields.