Here’s how much you’re saving in military commissaries

Karen Jowers 

January 27, 2020

omers shop in the Fort Benning, Ga., commissary. (Patrick Albright/Fort Benning) 

Commissary customers’ savings continued their upward trend in fiscal 2019, with average worldwide savings of 25.6 percent compared to civilian grocery stores, according to a report from the Defense Commissary Agency.

Overall, those savings are up from the 23.9 percent savings for fiscal 2018. But savings measured in overseas stores declined to 42.2 percent, from the 44 percent savings level in 2018. Officials attribute that drop overseas to the lower cost of living allowance in fiscal 2019.

The commissary agency has been required to track customer savings since fiscal 2016, in order to help defense officials and Congress monitor the commissary benefit.

Savings are calculated for overall U.S. stores, and for overseas, but they’re also broken out by region.

The overall savings level for U.S. stores (to include Alaska and Hawaii) was 22.3 percent for fiscal 2019, up from the 20.2 percent level in 2018.

The commissary agency compares prices with up to three commercial grocers, including one supercenter, in the local area of each commissary in the U.S. The comparison looks at 38,000 items at a regional level and local prices on about 1,000 products that are representative of a shopper’s typical market basket, officials say.

For years, the commissary savings was touted as an overall 30 percent. In 2016, as mandated by law, the commissary agency established a baseline of savings using a more thorough methodology.

FY 2016 Baseline 
savings % 
FY 2017 
savings %
FY 2018 
savings % 
FY 2019 
savings % 
Total U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii)20.2%19.9%20.2%22.3%
Overseas 44.2% 42.7% 44% 42.2% 
Global23.7% 23.3% 23.9% 25.6% 
Source: Defense Commissary Agency 

Congress requires the commissary agency to maintain savings levels that are reasonably consistent with the 2016 baseline, since the agency can now use variable pricing—lowering or raising prices on items, rather than selling them at cost, as they did for decades previously. Commissary officials have had the authority to do this for several years, as a means of being competitive with local stores, and to allow commissaries to use some of the profit made to reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars — over $1 billion a year — that’s used to operate the stores. Those taxpayer dollars have been a target of a number of people in DoD in efforts to save money. 

One retiree contacted Military Times to say he’s been shopping at commissaries for more than 50 years, “and from what I can see, prices are noticeably going up!” 

The savings depends on the item, as well as the region. 

For example, there are more than 900 items in the commissary’s Your Everyday Savings, or YES!, program, which lowers prices year-round on items that commissary customers purchase the most. That has contributed to the increase in savings, said Robert Bianchi, a retired Navy rear admiral who is DoD special assistant for commissary operations, in the agency’s report on the savings numbers. 

Bianchi said the grocery department — for example, packaged foods — is the main driver of savings for commissaries in three U.S. regions, South Atlantic, North Central and Hawaii and Alaska. The fresh department —such as meat and produce — is the main source of savings for the commissaries in New England, South Central, Mountain and Pacific. 

Here are savings percentages by U.S. region: 

RegionFiscal 2019 Savings % 
New England (36 stores) 21.8% 
South Atlantic (30 stores) 20.4% 
North Central (18 stores) 22% 
South Central (33 stores) 20.7% 
Mountain (20 stores) 20.8% 
Pacific (31 stores) 24.3% 
Alaska and Hawaii (9 stores) 35.1% 
Source: Defense Commissary Agency 

Report: Pentagon needs to improve business practices

At a hearing, the Department of Defense was said to have a culture that’s resistant to change. GAO stated the military is vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse.

Author: Mike Gooding
Published: 5:34 PM EDT April 27, 2021
Updated: 5:34 PM EDT April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon spends billions of dollars each year to maintain key business operations and defense-wide agencies and programs intended to support the warfighter.

The Department of Defense has long sought to improve its processes to manage contracts, finances, and supply chain.

But, the Government Accountability Office says the DOD is limited by the lack of reliable information, hampering its ability to monitor and inform its reform efforts. 

01:35 / 035
“DOD suffers from an alarming lack of accurate and consistent data on almost all of its core business functions,” said Elizabeth Field, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management for the Government Accountability Office as she testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Field continued, “This problem makes it exceptionally difficult for anyone who wants to drive changes. Our report cites numerous instances in which DOD data were so unreliable or inconsistent that we could not assess underlying issues.”

Dr. Adam Grant, Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania also spoke.

He said: “I’m afraid the DOD is still, by and large, doing 1950’s-era management.”

Committee members expressed concern.

“These management inefficiencies and a culture of bureaucratic stasis end up costing taxpayers’ money because they create unnecessary waste,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island).

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) said he’s worried the military can’t compete in attracting the best and brightest, especially when it comes to high-tech jobs.

“The DOD is not an attractive place for smart, talented young people to go and solve tough problems,” he said.

The GAO says the Defense Department has not taken the necessary steps to achieve and sustain business reform on a broad, strategic, department-wide, and integrated basis.

And, it says, DOD’s historical approach to business transformation has not proven effective in achieving meaningful and sustainable progress in a timely manner.

JUST IN: Senate Leader Supports Maintaining Nuclear Triad Budget

By Meredith Roaten

The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said he supports maintaining current budget levels for the nuclear triad, but he expects the overall defense budget to flatten.

The newly appointed chairman of the SASC said he supported fully funding the three legs of the triad — ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, long-range bombers and ballistic missile submarines — he told reporters at a Defense Writers Group event Feb. 23.

“We have to modernize the triad and maintain in my view the triad for strategic reasons that have been successful for about 70 years,” he said.

He noted the B-21 aircraft for the Air Force and Columbia-class boomers for the Navy specifically need to be monitored to stay within cost parameters. Both systems would replace aging weapon systems that are rapidly approaching their retirement dates, some time over the next decade or so.

The senator did not address calls from some members of his party to reduce or delay the ground-based strategic deterrent that will replace the Air Force’s Minuteman III.

“But in every one of these areas, we can’t avoid looking at cost and trying to minimize those costs,” Reed said.

Reed added that the defense budget will likely increase at a slower rate from the Trump administration years.

He would not prioritize considering cuts to the Air Force’s F-35A joint strike fighter jet program, but that he would look at analyzing the high costs and reliability issues that have been a target of critics. The service plans on buying 1,763 aircraft.

“I think we have to make sure that we send the right signal, but also don’t compromise the operations of the Air Force,” he said.

Congress also has to be wary of how cutting equipment would impact the defense industrial base, Reed noted. Final decisions will be made once the committee is able to weigh all these factors, he said.

Though Reed supports the push for modernization, he said there may be cuts to legacy weapons systems. Senators such as Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have pushed for dramatic budget cuts, but the slim Democratic majority in the Senate means dramatic changes in either direction are likely off the table, Reed said.

Congress passed a more than $700 billion budget for defense for the 2021 fiscal year.  “We’re going to deal with, I think, a much tighter budget going forward, more flat, then rising,” he said. “But within that, I think we have to make judicious calls about what is worthwhile.”

He acknowledged that individual senators often have vested interests in legacy systems, which make cuts challenging.

Functional cost savings could help the defense work within a tighter budget, he said, while mentioning privatizing military commissaries as one example of a way to save on expenses without touching investment for weapons. A majority Republican Senate defeated a proposal to pilot private commissaries in 2016 after a study was commissioned to assess the costs and benefits of the program in 2015.

Meanwhile, Reed addressed opposition from Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., to the nomination of Colin Kahl, Biden’s pick for the undersecretary of defense for policy.

A spokesperson for Inhofe told POLITICO that the senator has issues with some of Kahl’s policy positions. The news outlet reported Republican criticism of Kahl’s support of the deal with Iran, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Reed said he trusted the hearing process and hoped Kahl would have a chance to defend his positions and his experience during questioning next week, March 4. Kahl’s long-standing relationship with President Joe Biden would help the Defense Department build a strong relationship with the White House, Reed added.

“I think he’ll get a fair shot at the hearing,” he said.

The senator added that the committee will “aggressively” pursue the 59 nominations slated for the Defense Department. The lack of a “real transition” to the Biden administration put the department at a disadvantage that needs to be corrected, Reed said.

“We’ve made the point that we need the nominees as quickly as possible … particularly after the last several years of the Trump administration, with the department really in disarray, acting secretaries and people acting for acting secretary,” he said. “So we’ve got to get back to stability.”

The US Military May Dodge Significant Budget Cuts, to the Ire of Progressives

24 Feb 2021 | By Steve Beynon

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., arrives for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Progressives have geared up for a funding battle to gut the Defense Department, but the Senate Armed Services Committee’s new chairman doesn’t expect any big moves in the next budget.

Sen. Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat who leads the panel, said he expects “tighter budgets going forward, more flat than rising.”

The government must juggle a DoD modernization effort to compete with near-peer threats by boosting cyber warfare and space capabilities after unprecedented spending for economic recovery efforts amid the pandemic.

“I think there’s going to be budget pressure on all budgets,” Reed said in a call with reporters Wednesday. “We’re gonna deal with a tighter budget; we need to make judicious calls on what’s worthwhile.”

A lack of big surprises in the next budget potentially sets up a fight between Democrats on Capitol Hill. Progressives have pounced on the opportunity to scale back military spending in favor of investing in other parts of the government and curtailing the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.

“After the past year … spending $740 billion a year on this one piece of the federal budget is unconscionable,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who serves on the Armed Services Committee, said at a hearing earlier this month. “We continue to overinvest in defense while underinvesting in public health and so much more that would keep us safe and save lives.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, vowed to combat fraud and waste in the DoD and has long sought to cut its budget by 10 percent.

“Military spending, now higher than the next 11 nations combined, represents more than half of all federal discretionary spending,” Sanders said in a statement last year. “If the horrific pandemic we are now experiencing has taught us anything, it is that national security means a lot more than building bombs, missiles, jet fighters, tanks, submarines, nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction.”

President Joe Biden said he doesn’t foresee any major cuts to the Pentagon, telling Stars and Stripes in September that, if anything, there could be a slight increase in funding for emerging warfighting domains such as cyber.

DoD officials consider drastic measures as commissary shortages hit critical levels

Karen Jowers

November 4, 2020

A customer at the McGuire Commissary at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., pictured here, complains about the empty shelves at the store. (DeCA photo: John Zoubra)

Increasing shortages of groceries have ramped up commissary officials’ pleas to industry to help them supply commissary shelves, and caused officials high-level Pentagon officials to consider implementing the Defense Production Act for grocery production.

It would be the first time the act has been invoked for commissaries. The problems are wide ranging, affecting many categories, such as canned goods and frozen goods — not just sanitizing products. Concerns started in the summer and early fall, and are related to various issues around the pandemic, including reduced production.

The Defense Production Act authorizes the president to require industry to give preferential treatment to national defense programs, in order to meet current national defense and emergency preparedness program requirements.

But this would be uncharted territory, said Steve Rossetti, president of the American Logistics Association, an organization of manufacturers and distributors selling products to commissaries and exchanges. “The existing regulations say that commercial items are not covered under the guidance, but then again, these are unusual times,” Rossetti said. “In March, the Pentagon designated commissaries as ‘mission critical’ and said that extraordinary measures need to be taken to keep the stores open and products flowing.”

Rossetti said the ramped-up effort involving the Defense Production Act is being discussed and coordinated with several Pentagon offices.

DoD officials did not immediately comment on whether they were considering invoking this law to remedy the shortages.

Defense and commissary officials are pursuing various options; Rossetti described it as a “full-court press to get commissary shelves filled.” A Nov. 10 meeting is scheduled between commissary officials and industry representatives to discuss the issues and options for addressing the empty shelves, Rossetti said. In addition, commissary officials have scheduled “listening sessions” with major manufacturers, he said, to strengthen partnership with industry. The Defense Commissary Agency’s new director, Bill Moore, and other high-level commissary officials will be involved in the sessions.

The out-of-stock rate is “much higher than normal” in stateside commissaries, said Moore, Oct. 20, during an ALA conference. “We need to figure out how to resolve that sooner rather than later,” he said. The issue was brought up by numerous commissary and exchange officials during the conference.

Berry Patrick, who works in the DoD Office of Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Nonappropriated Fund Policy, also urged industry to help the military stores beef up their pipeline, particularly the allocations of products. He praised industry for working with military store officials to get products in the stores as the pandemic unfolded.

“You were doing such a good job helping keep us supplied… we had dozens of phone calls from companies asking to get products from us,” he said, during the conference.

“We had to hold the line on that.”

‘A waste of time’ to shop

In some places, the empty shelves are driving customers away. A shopper at McGuire Commissary at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., said she’s so frustrated with the empty shelves there that she doesn’t know if she’ll try shopping there again.

“As it stands now, it’s a waste of time,” she said. The problem has persisted for months, she said, whether her visits are on pay day, before pay day, different days of the week and different times.

The shelves were well-stocked with paper towels, toilet paper, baby items and personal care items the last time she shopped, but from there, the selections went downhill.

“Meat seemed to be stocked adequately but not as well as before. Yet sugar, spices, jarred pasta sauce, canned vegetables, frozen veggies, prepackaged lunch meat, bacon, sausage, paper plates, dish soap…. the list goes on… the shelves were bare,” she said.

But it does vary. The shopper said she’s contacted friends who shop at other installations who are not having the same problems. And a retiree who shops each week at the Fort Belvoir, Va., commissary said he normally goes with a list and for the most part, finds what he’s looking for. Some of the exceptions he noted are turkey cutlets, Presto products, and spices that sell out quickly.

Overseas stores first

From the beginning of the pandemic, Defense Commissary Agency leaders prioritized shipments for overseas stores in Europe and the Pacific because of the limited options some of those customers have outside the gate, and in many cases, customers weren’t able to shop outside the gate. As products become available, the first priority is those overseas commissaries. The agency also arranged for multiple emergency air shipments as required. Commissary officials have also worked with suppliers within the overseas theaters to buy products offshore to supplement critical items that may not be available from the U.S., said commissary agency spokesman Kevin Robinson. “As a result, DeCA’s overseas central distribution centers and meat processing plant have sustained outstanding in-stock rates throughout the pandemic,” he said.

That’s left stateside stores short. According to ALA’s Rossetti, the pipeline for some overseas commissaries is 55 days, “forcing distributors to fill overseas orders and leaving little, if any, product for stateside stores.”

Robinson said DeCA leadership is working with industry to to try to get as much of available product as possible, to include working on one-time buys and alternate items to help supplement regularly stocked items that may not be available.

Are commissaries not getting their fair share?

But commissary officials are seeing indications that commissaries may not be getting their fair share of products, compared to stores outside the gate, said Chris Burns, DeCA’s executive director of sales, marketing and logistics, during the ALA conference.

He said he’s starting to see industry data that indicates some brands and categories are growing in stores outside the gate, but not in commissaries and other stores in the military channel of business, and allocations of products are moving forward to other retail companies.

“We want to be treated as the number one retailer in your company and we need that message to get up to your CEOs,” he told the industry representatives.

“If you say that the military channel is just another channel, then I would ask, is the military patron just another patron?” He urged industry representatives to talk to their company leaders about the military lifestyle and the sacrifices service members and their families make, and why commissaries exist.

“We have a statutory requirement to provide savings, whether in the exchange or commissary, as a benefit, and we shouldn’t have to force them to go outside the military installation” because the products are not on the shelves, Burns said.

Military Times asked the Consumer Brands Association about concerns that the industry isn’t providing a fair share of products to military stores.

“With COVID cases spiking around the country, winter on its way and uncertainty around the election, purchasing patterns have stabilized, but are far from normal,” said Tom Madreki, vice president of supply chain and logistics for the association. “While some segments are steadying, others— like cleaning and even more specifically, disinfecting products — continue to see record demand.

“The industry is working around the clock to manufacture products and [is working] with its retail and distribution partners and [Defense Commissary Agency] leadership to get them in stores and on the shelves around the country,” he said, in an email response.

In some cases, manufacturers’ production rates on certain products are running at about 40 to 60 percent of what they were producing before the pandemic, said Tom Gordy, president of the Armed Forces Marketing Council, an organization of firms representing over 400 manufacturers who supply consumer products to military resale activities worldwide. “There’s extreme competition” for products, he said, and some of the largest retailers outside the gate are getting the larger allocations.

All retailers are going to manufacturers asking for higher allocations of products, Gordy said. “It’s just a fierce environment right now.”

There are many factors affecting grocery stores and manufacturers in general, said Rossetti and Gordy, such as more demand as more people are eating at home during the pandemic; a nationwide shortage of truck drivers that started long before the pandemic; a nationwide shortage of aluminum; effects of COVID on manufacturers’ work forces.

And the military channel is affected in different ways, as the number of customers increases and decreases as some bases have limited access to retirees and curtailed their commissary shopping.

Between the manufacturer and the shelf there are many possible “points of failure” for that product, Gordy said, such as:

*the store not getting as much of a product as they ordered, or not getting the product at all.

*backlogs on the part of the distributor causing delays in getting the product to the store.

*stores ordering the wrong products, to include items that have are no longer being manufactured. Some companies have simply stopped producing certain products to focus on other products in higher demand.

*the product just doesn’t get ordered.

*problems in getting the product on the shelf when it gets to the store. The commissary staff has to sort products in the back of the store. From there, contracted vendor stockers put it on the shelves.

Here’s how much you’re saving in military commissaries

Karen Jowers

January 26, 2021

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Socially-distanced, masked shoppers wait to pay for their groceries April 16, 2020, inside the commissary at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Air Force)

After a couple of years of increases, commissary savings slipped in U.S. stores in 2020, according to results from the most recent commissary savings report.

Savings in U.S. commissaries decreased by 1.2 points — down to 21.1 percent in 2020 from the 22.3 percent savings calculated in 2019. Commissary officials compare prices in each geographic area to determine how much, on average, a commissary shopper could expect to save on grocery purchases compared with local commercial grocers in that area outside the gate.

Factoring in the overseas savings which increased by 0.4 points – to 42.6 percent — average worldwide savings declined by 0.6 point from savings in 2019, to 25 percent savings worldwide, officials stated.

“Natural variations in pricing are expected, given free market dynamics where suppliers and retailers compete,” said Defense Commissary Agency spokesman Kevin Robinson when asked about the decrease. He noted that DeCA’s calculation for savings includes both internal pricing data and external data from commercial grocers.

“Despite these variations, our goal is always to provide the commissary benefit as consistently as possible,” he said, in an email response to questions.

The 2020 savings percentage is still above the savings level required by law. Commissaries have to maintain savings consistent with the global 23.7 percent savings baseline set in the fall of 2016 before these military grocery stores went to a new pricing system.

“The commissary still represents a huge value to military families,” said Nicole Russell, government relations deputy director for the National Military Family Association. “The uptick in commissary sales during the pandemic illustrates it’s a vital resource to families, particularly those struggling financially.”

The commissary agency has been required to track customer savings since fiscal 2016, in order to help defense officials and Congress monitor the commissary benefit.

Congress requires the commissary agency to maintain savings levels that are reasonably consistent with the 2016 baseline, since the agency can now use variable pricing — lowering or raising prices on items, rather than selling commissary items at cost from the vendor, as they did for decades previously. The stores also require a 5 percent surcharge on the purchases, added at the cash register, which helps pay for new or renovated commissaries.

Commissary officials have had the authority to change prices since 2017, as a means of being competitive with local stores, and to allow commissaries to use some of the profit made to reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars — over $1 billion a year — that’s used to operate the stores. The taxpayer dollars going to the provide the commissary benefit have been a target of a number of people in DoD in efforts to save money. The Senate Armed Services Committee has directed the Government Accountability Office to report on the extent the commissary agency has implemented reforms, and to report on the effect these reforms have had on customer savings and satisfaction, among other things. Lawmakers note that commissary sales fell from $5.5 billion globally in fiscal 2015 to $4.5 billion in fiscal 2019

The commissary agency also received more than $34 million in COVID relief funds in 2020 for personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, increased store hours for part-time employees to help with store cleanup and shelf stocking, and to pay for additional air shipments to Europe and Pacific and truck deliveries to meet surge demands for products for overseas customers.

The 1.2 point decrease in savings in the U.S. “isn’t significant, given everything that’s happened. I think they’re holding steady, given the circumstances,” said Steve Rossetti, president of the American Logistics Association.

The commissary agency compares prices with commercial grocers, including at least one supercenter, in the local area of each commissary in the U.S. The savings comparison measures about 38,000 specific items at a regional level, and local prices of about 1,000 products that are representative of a shopper’s typical market basket, officials said.Each quarter, the agency does comparisons of one-fourth of the stores, with all the stores undergoing market basket comparison over the course of a year. But in 2020, COVID caused the agency to cancel comparisons scheduled from April through June, because of considerations about physical visits to stores. Officials said that loss of one quarter of the store surveys “did not have a statistically significant impact on the savings levels.

The situation with COVID-19 has caused a variety of problems for the Defense Commissary Agency. Although defense officials declared the stores to be essential and they were kept open, there have been rampant restrictions on entry at a number of bases, which affected any customers, including retirees. Commissary officials have also had problems with shortages of products, and have raised concerns that they weren’t getting their fair share of products from vendors, in comparison to civilian stores. Civilian stores’ volume has been increasing.

The volume has dropped off significantly, which pushes up the cost per unit being shipped.

In the 12 months ending in December, grocery prices increased overall by 3.9 percent, according to the Consumer Price Index. The Defense Commissary Agency doesn’t release information about the overall price increases specifically in commissaries, as it considers pricing data to be proprietary.

The commissary agency’s savings report compares prices with civilian stores to determine the level of savings the benefit offers.

Here’s how much you’re saving, based on where you live:

Region2016 baseline savings %2020 savings %
New England (25 stores)21.4%21.8%
South Atlantic (22 stores)19.9%18.7%
North Central (13 stores)20.2%21.4%
South Central (26 stores)18.1%18.9%
Mountain (15 stores)17.6%20.0%
Pacific (22 stores)20.9%22.6%
Alaska and Hawaii (7 stores)32.6%33.2%
Total U.S. (130 stores surveyed over 3 quarters due to COVID)20.2%21.1%
Source: Defense Commissary Agency

Champion of Change

Champion of Change_January 2017 Article highlighted

DOD Needs to Improve Business Processes to Ensure Patron Benefits and Achieve Operational Efficiencies

Defense Commissaries:

DOD Needs to Improve Business Processes to Ensure Patron Benefits and Achieve Operational Efficiencies

GAO-17-80: Published: Mar 23, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 2017.

Full Report Link:

Defense Spending Bill Clears Committee with Key Pro-Worker Provisions

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Next year’s Defense spending bill passed out of the House Armed Services Committee with many pro-worker provisions endorsed by the American Federation of Government Employees, including an amendment to reverse steep cuts in travel expenses for civilian employees who spend months away from home supporting our warfighters.

Commissary hours would be cut under draft budget proposal

If last year is any indication, lawmakers may not be receptive to suggestions about cutting the commissary budget to such a severe degree. In their fiscal 2015 budget request, DoD proposed cutting $200 million in DeCA funding, the first phase of a proposed three-year plan to slash the DeCA budget by $1 billion. In the end, lawmakers restored that $200 million to the budget.

Commissary privatization test in Senate defense bill

Lawmakers have taken a first step toward privatizing commissaries, approving legislation that would require a pilot program to test the concept of private companies operating at least five commissaries at large installations.

“Pentagon Budget Proposal to Slash Subsidies to DECA Commissaries”

Grocery stores for military families, also called commissaries, will be able to offer fewer savings over the next three years as the Department of Defense would slash most of the taxpayer subsidies that prop up these stores, according to the plan released Monday.

“DoD seeks plan to shut all U.S. commissaries”

Defense officials have reportedly asked the Defense Commissary Agency to develop a plan to close all U.S. commissaries — about three-fourths of its stores, according to a resale community source familiar with details of a meeting with representatives of the Joint Staff and Pentagon comptroller’s office.

“DoD Requests Plan to Close Stateside Commissaries”

Tasked by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to find ways to preserve force readiness amid sharply falling budgets, his comptroller and the Joint Staff have asked the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) for a plan to close all stateside base grocery stores, say military resale community sources.

“Pentagon Proposes Plan to Gut Commissary’s Budget”

The Defense Department is discussing a $1 billion cut over the next three years to the commissary’s budget in a move that could lead to a widespread closure of stores, Pentagon and industry officials said.

Read More

“Congressional Budget Office recommends consolidation of commissaries and exchanges”

If a recent debate over U.S. military commissaries is any indication, the future of the government-subsidized grocery stores is an emotional issue. Many leaped to the commissaries’ defense this week, and some worried their Commissary was effectively getting ready to hold a going-out-of-business sale. You can fault some of the coverage, that may have overly simplified a complex and nuanced issue. The Military Times reported on “a budget-cutting plan to shut down commissaries.” Government Executive reported on projected savings “if the services did away with their own grocery stores.” And, mea culpa, Coupons in the News reported that “the government could save billions by shutting down military-run commissaries.”

“Lobbyists oppose commissary proposal”

As congressional inaction on the debt crisis deepens the threat of indiscriminate axe-wielding on defense programs next January, advocates for base grocery stores hope to hang a “hands off” sign on military commissaries and their $1.3 billion annual appropriation.

“Backlash on commissary closure plan exemplifies DOD’s dilemma”

Motion sensors and razor-wire coils ring the ammunition depot on this vast Marine Corps base. Sentries stand watch in the lobby of the headquarters complex. Military police officers patrol the barracks every few hours. But no building here boasts the defenses of the giant, government-run supermarket, whose bright, wide aisles are stocked with seemingly every brand of every food product available in America — Heinz ketchup, Oscar Mayer bacon, Lay’s chips — all sold at close to wholesale prices.

“Commissaries to Run as Business, Not Benefit”

Behind the plan to slash taxpayer support of commissaries is a concept Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his senior advisors have embraced that base grocery stores should operate as a business and not a benefit.

This shift is candidly revealed in budget documents released Tuesday and in a legislative packet for implementing the funding cuts drafted by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA).

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