The Pentagon is considering requesting Congress eliminate the requirement that commissary items be sold “at reduced cost,” as part of a package of fiscal 2016 budget proposals intended to reduce the cost of operating military grocery stores.
The legislative change would be far-reaching and could end the commissary benefit for military families, reported the Navy Times. Commissaries now offer military families an average savings of about 30 percent over off-base groceries.
Eliminating the requirement would help the Defense Commissary Agency meet a DOD mandate to identify $322 million in annual savings. Such a change, however, would result in DOD operating its commissaries closer to the way its exchanges are run.
“This is a death knell for commissaries,” Tom Gordy, president of the Armed Forces Marketing Council, told Navy Times. “If it moves forward, it’s an indication that DOD is saying, ‘We’ll no longer provide this benefit — it’s a business.’ This is not good for military families,” Gordy said.
The draft plan obtained by the Times outlines $183 million in cuts to operating costs, including shortening stores’ hours and days of operation, and cutting the number of employees per store. The proposals still are under discussion even as the new budget request is scheduled to be sent to Congress next Monday, according to the story.