, (PressExposure) April 21, 2009 -- Chris Alf, founder and principle of freight forwarder National Air Cargo, heralded President Bush's signing of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal 2009 Tuesday as a victory for military vendors, personnel, and taxpayers.
Section 355 of the NDAA requires "the clarification of conflicting regulations applied to freight forwarders, allowing government vendors to operate by best commercial practices, which are mode-neutral." The conflicting policies noted in the bill include a policy covering the transport of Department of Defense cargo within the United States, the Defense Transportation Regulations, and an Air Mobility Command publication.
Under Mr. Alf's control, National Air Cargo (NAC) entered into a dispute and subsequent settlement with the Department of Defense (DOD) based upon these conflicting regulations. National Air Cargo continues to contract with the government for the delivery of cargo for the Department of Defense.
According to Mr. Alf, "The previous inconsistencies in the Department of Defense and the Air Mobility Command Freight Traffic Rules Publication 5 (AFTRP 5) regulations resulted in vendor confusion and inefficiency. US Transportation Command's new Defense Transportation Coordination Initiative (DTCI) recognizes that the government saves money when it allows the commercial sector to pick the mode of transport in order to meet mandatory delivery dates."
"Unfortunately, AFTRP 5 was confusing regarding whether or not this was permissible even when the governing guidance that had precedence over AFTRP No. 5 - Defense Transportation Regulations (DTR) and our contract with the Government, clearly allowed for shipment entirely by surface or air." Mr. Alf continued "This commercial best practice that NAC followed, now the law of the land, is more cost-effective and allows commercial vendors to charge lower fees for domestic shipments. Our troops deserve the most efficient shipment of supplies - medical, combat, and otherwise - so that funds are spent effectively on these conflicts."
The current DOD regulation states that components moved by air freight forwarders for the Department and the military services should use the same mode-neutral, time definite delivery model successfully being used by the commercial transportation industry. According to Mr. Alf, "NAC has consistently demonstrated the significant monetary benefit to the government of employing vendors that utilize best commercial practices. The company helped save a third of the shipping costs to military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq through the United States Central Command Tender Express program."
"However, some people in government interpreted the Air Mobility Command publication to "require" air freight forwarders to ship cargo by air even when it made little economic sense and contradicted governing regulations" stated Mr. Alf.
Mr. Alf is not alone in his beliefs. Chairman Solomon Ortiz and Ranking Member Jo Ann Davis of the House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services, Readiness Subcommittee in a July 20, 2007 letter to the Under Secretary Office of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics stated "Air Mobility Command's non-conforming regulation appears to cause inefficient business practices and a substantial waste of Department of Defense funds..." The letter continues "In an example brought to the committee's attention, the AFTRP requirement nearly doubled the costs for one shipper moving freight... [which] resulted in an additional cost to the government of $173,140.00... this amounts to approximately $250,000.00 in additional annualized costs to the taxpayer for this one DOD shipper."
The Air Forwarders Association, American Trucking Association, and multiple independent freight forwarders wrote to US Transportation Command earlier this year in an attempt to change Air Mobility Command's interpretation of the policy from mode-specific to mode-neutral. Congress and the President solved that policy dispute yesterday.
In addition to clarifying these inconsistencies in the transportation regulations, the law requires that the Secretary of Defense provide specific definitions for the various transportation carriers, and additional guidance and training to ensure that commercial best practices are used when shipping department cargo.