Two metro-east congressmen -- U.S. representatives Bill Enyart, D-Belleville; and Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville -- said Monday they want the House Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on problems with a federal contractor that led to the disappearance of hundreds of privately owned vehicles belong to military members who have served overseas.
The U.S. Transportation Command, based at Scott Air Force Base, plans to send survey teams around the globe next week to search for the missing trucks and cars, the News-Democrat reported Sunday.
The vehicles were entrusted to International Auto Logistics, of Brunswick, Ga., which took over a five-year, nearly $1 billion contract to ship the privately owned cars and trucks.
Enyart, who sits on the armed services panel, said he has the greatest respect for Transcom.
"... Certainly they do a phenomenal job," said Enyart, who represents the 12th Congressional District, which includes Scott. "That's one of the reasons I'd like to find out what the breakdown was, or where the bureaucracy broke down."
Davis agreed it was time for the U.S. House to investigate the problems plaguing the IAL contract, which has led to more than 50 complaints filed with the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the Transcom unit directly overseeing the IAL contract.
IAL has blamed its performance problems on the fact it took over the contract May 1, which is the start of the military's peaking shipping season, when more than 40 percent of total volume, or more than 26,000, are being moved.
Davis is not buying that explanation.
"Well, you know, with a billion-dollar contract, you should prepare for those contingencies," Davis said.
Davis said he hoped there is language in the contract between Transcom and IAL to allow the former to recoup some of these costs (of the survey teams) so the hard-working taxpayers of this country aren't saddled with the bill for their obvious lack of competence."
Also on Monday, Davis announced he will be looking into the problems with the shipping contractor, with the help of staff members who are scheduled to meet with senior Defense Department officials in Washington, D.C.
Before Transcom's announcement Friday, two other federal lawmakers from the metro-east had said they were aware of IAL's problems and were keeping an eye on the contractor.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said in an announcement he was aware of the complaints made by service members against IAL, and that his office was "in regular contact with U.S. Transcom to ensure that the issues they've raised are being fully addressed."
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville said in a statement that is staff have been in touch with Transcom.
"At this point, the new company is not meeting standards required by the contract," Shimkus said. "It is our understanding TRANSCOM is in discussions with them regarding the unmet needs of our military men and women."