Defense Department leaders appear to be moving ahead with a plan to consolidate the military’s commissary and exchange systems, according to multiple sources.
The move comes in response to a recommendation from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in January. Consolidating DOD’s three exchange services with the Defense Commissary Agency into a single Defense Resale Activity would generate savings by combining many of the back-end office and support functions such as logistics and staffing, the panel concluded.
A meeting this week at the Pentagon is intended to allow military resale officials to review DOD’s plans for implementing the commission’s recommendation, sources told Military Times.
Congress, however, would need to approve a significant restructuring of the commissary and exchange systems.
A Pentagon spokesman would not confirm the meetings. Last month, President Obama said he supported the commission’s reforms to military pay and benefits and said DOD would send Congress by April 30 a set of legislative proposals based on the recommendations.
DOD proposed its own set of cost-saving reforms to the commissary system in its fiscal 2016 budget request, including trimming staff, store hours and the days stores are open. That plan also called for U.S. commissaries to be operated more like a business, forcing the grocery stores to reduce customer discounts.
Opponents of DOD’s proposal — which would cut funding for commissaries by $322 million in fiscal 2016 and by $1 billion the following year — say raising prices would eliminate the shopping benefit for military families.