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Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Wrong Move


Summer is peak moving season for military personnel, but a string of missed property pickups is prompting the organization that runs the program to search for answers.

The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, which oversees the transport of people and property for the Defense Department, recently reported an increase in the number of missed or canceled scheduled pickups for the shipment of household goods.

John Johnson, chief of SDDC's Personal Property Branch, said his office still is gathering data to determine why the number of missed appointments has increased, but he attributes the problem to a large volume of shipments; poor coordination between carriers and companies responsible for local packaging and pickups; and a decrease in the number of drivers and moving equipment available to handle growing business.

In the first three weeks of June, the Defense Personal Property Program oversaw 125,000 shipments. Johnson said summer is the busiest moving season; one-third of all shipments occur then.

Local shipping offices are asked to stay in touch with both carriers and service members to ensure that items are picked up on time. If a carrier fails, however, to pick up or deliver scheduled shipments, service members can file an inconvenience claim and receive reimbursement for items they purchased to cover basic needs. Additionally, for property that is lost or damaged, personnel can file a claim through the Defense Personal Property System, a new central website that allows service members to easily manage the moving process, including billing, claims processing and pre-move counseling.

One way to ensure that carriers continue to provide good service is to complete customer satisfaction surveys, Johnson said. Half of each company's "best value" score is based on service member feedback. The surveys also are available through DPS.

Charitable Feds

Despite the recession and repeated calls from lawmakers for a freeze on federal pay, federal employees have continued to demonstrate their generosity, giving a record-setting amount through the Combined Federal Campaign.

At a White House ceremony this week, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry presented awards to 25 feds whose charitable work contributed to raising nearly $276 million in pledges to nonprofit programs in 2009.

"Just as federal employees work for the American public in communities throughout our country, they also give back to these same communities through programs like the Combined Federal Campaign," Berry said. "I am proud to recognize the volunteer efforts of federal employees, whose donations through the CFC program represent the largest workplace charity program in the world."

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