House panel nixes commissary privatization plan

A House oversight panel announced Thursday it would not allow the Defense Department to run a pilot program with the Army and the Marine Corps to contract out certain commissaries. The Armed Services Committee's Special Oversight Panel on Morale, Welfare and Recreation made its recommendation in its markup of the fiscal 2002 National Defense Authorization Bill (H.R. 2586). Its recommendations will now go to the full committee. The panel refused to authorize a proposal by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to contract out commissary services as a cost-saving measure. "Our major legislative accomplishment this year may be what we will not do," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., the panel's chairman. "Specifically, we will not authorize the Department of Defense to test commissary privatization. I'm all for trying out new ideas, but we need a period, particularly with so many other parts of DoD under a microscope, to chart a steady course and protect a proven and treasured benefit." The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) runs the military's worldwide grocery store system, which includes 283 stores and more than 17,300 employees. In fiscal 2000, the agency had annual sales of $5 billion and operating costs of $1 billion. As part of an 18-month-long restructuring effort, DeCA pegged six commissaries for closure earlier this year. Management offices at Fort Meade, Md., and Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., were closed to consolidate much of DeCA's Eastern Region operations at regional headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va. Employees were reassigned and offered early retirement and other separation incentives. Now the agency is considering transferring management of 25 of its Eastern Region commissaries to its Midwest Region headquarters in San Antonio. Bartlett said he was pleased with DeCA's businesslike approach to commissary operations. "The agency is making great progress that will strengthen the all-important commissary benefit for years to come," the legislator said. Bartlett also proposed to allow the Pentagon to use $40 million collected through a 5 percent commissary surcharge. According to Bartlett's spokeswoman, the surcharge fund "is just sitting there" unused. Bartlett, she said, would prefer that the money be used to build more commissaries. "I've learned to take a cautious approach to changing programs that military families have come to depend on," Bartlett said.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.