DOD Budget Looks for Savings in Quality-of-Life Benefits

The president’s fiscal 2016 budget request released Monday reprises cost-savings reforms to commissary benefits and the basic allowance for housing (BAH) from the previous year’s request, with some tweaks.

The proposal would continue the Pentagon’s effort to slow the growth in BAH by requiring service members to pay an additional 4 percent in out-of-pocket costs over the next two to three years. The change, which comes on top of a 1 percent reduction in BAH approved by Congress for FY 2015, would save DOD $400 million in FY 2016 and $3.9 billion over the next five years.

Separately, the request calls for military grocery stores to cut back their operating days and hours to save $300 million in federal subsidies next year. The department also proposes legislative changes in the coming years that would allow commissaries to sell items at higher markups, reported Military Times.

“This will allow goods to be priced above cost to increase revenues on certain items, while providing more savings to a market basket of goods that affect junior members with families the most,” according to the budget. Now all items are sold at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge added at the register.

The department would save a total of $4.4 billion through FY 2020 if Congress approves all of its commissary reforms.

Last year, the Pentagon proposed eliminating $200 million in subsidies to the Defense Commissary Agency as part of a three-year plan to slash the agency’s budget by $1 billion. Congress, however, rejected the proposal for FY 2015.


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