Monday, October 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Commissaries to be run as business, not benefit

By
From page C4 | March 09, 2014 |

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.

The documents make clear that individual stateside commissaries will survive only if they produce enough revenue to cover operating costs.

Hagel gave a softer summation to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

“We are not shutting down any commissaries. We recommend gradually phasing out some subsidies, but only for domestic commissaries that are not in remote locations,” the defense chief said.

Because stateside stores “will continue to operate tax-and-rent free, they will still be able to provide people with a very good deal.”

Resale industry officials and military associations dispute this and predict closure of most stateside commissaries. Only stores overseas and at 25 remote stateside bases would be funded after fiscal 2017. DeCA’s annual appropriation of $1.4 billion would be cut by then to $400 million.

That’s enough to offer shoppers savings of 10 percent off “high-priced, private grocery stores,” the budget documents estimate. Savings would be even “more modest” in comparison to prices at “discount grocery chains.”

“In the end, patron usage of the commissaries will determine the savings and their comprehensive advantage,” explains the overview report from the Obama administration on its 2015 defense budget request.

Commissary shoppers now save an average of 30 percent compared to prices for a range of private sector grocery stores, DeCA said. The hit to those savings would be felt “worldwide,” budget documents explain.

The draft implementing legislation has a telling description of commissaries run as businesses. Criteria for opening and closing stores, it says, would make cost recovery “the primary factor for their existence, as opposed to the needs of active-duty members and their families or the welfare of the military community.”

That statement captures what’s ahead for a long-prized benefit if Congress adopts the plan in the budget, said an industry official. He described the plan as carelessly conceived and devastating to the “ecology” of base stores, both exchanges and commissaries.

There were no signals of stiff resistance from the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday when Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chief, detailed the new budget with its sweeping changes impacting commissaries and the Tricare program.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., called commissaries a “core benefit” that contributes “greatly to recruitment and retention, even though I am one of those who thinks (troops) may get just as good a deal at some other retail outlets around the country.” Encouraging commissaries “to act more like a business . . . makes sense. I agree with that,” Chambliss said.

But the senator questioned whether changes to this benefit should be delayed until the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission make its report in February 2015. He and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., have introduced a bill to mandate such a delay.

Hagel and his comptroller Robert Hale explained that some savings from compensation reforms are needed now because budget cuts already are impacting training, troop support and overall readiness.

Hagel noted that exchanges operate on the same business model and are successfully self-sustaining. So, senior leaders, relying on “significant analysis,” decided “we knew enough about where we thought we’re going to have to eventually go with commissaries,” Hagel said.

On Feb. 24, the day Hagel first unveiled highlights of the budget with its plan for commissaries, he recognized “senior enlisted leaders in each of the services for (their) help and input in crafting this budget.”

Two days later, however, some of those enlisted leaders told a House appropriations subcommittee that their support for compensation reforms didn’t extend to the deep hit on the commissary benefit.

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody noted that young families in particular depend heavily on the shopping discounts.

Barrett called it “ridiculous that we’re going to go after something that saves some young lance corporal, an E-3, $4,500 a year.” If that E-3 has two kids, he added, “and every time he shops it’s $240, well unbeknownst to him he just put $80 worth of gas into his car.”

Base exchanges could also be at risk, say industry officials. Their profits already are stressed by base closures overseas, deep force cuts and minimum wage hikes on service contracts. The plan for commissaries would deepen these challenges by reducing shopper traffic on base and by allowing commissaries to offer products now sold only in exchanges.

DeCA’s implementing legislation shows commissaries would operate far different than they do today. A surcharge of at least 5 percent would still be collected on goods sold. But to capture more revenue, DeCA seeks authorities to run its stores much like commercial supermarkets.

That means a broader mix of products, including beer and wine. Restrictions would be lifted on sale of generic or local goods to compete with brand names. A legal requirement to sell goods at cost would end so prices could climb as needed and would vary from store to store.

DeCA could advertise to try to keep patrons and hire private contractors to operate specific store functions. It also wants relief from “socio-economic” laws that dampen savings, including a requirement to buy certain supplies and services from nonprofit employers of persons who are blind or have other significant disabilities.

Send comments to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120, email milupdate@aol.com or tweet @Military_Update.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Dave ShreeveMarch 09, 2014 - 10:33 am

    "Hagel and his comptroller Robert Hale explained that some savings from compensation reforms are needed now because budget cuts already are impacting training, troop support and overall readiness." Since the Commissary subsidy is around 1/4 of 1%, that is a hell of a big savings...NOT! This is all purely political and makes no economic or common sense at all. Only if your object is to discourage enlistments and retention of personnel does this make sense. Leaving large shuttered buildings on the bases also makes no sense. If the end game is to turn over the commissaries to outside contractors, i.e., Safeway or Raley's, then they should just come out and say so from the start.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensMarch 09, 2014 - 11:20 am

    Both Obama and Hagel are hated by the troops. And its not just over the Commissaries or Tri-care either.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Girl Scouts explore sweet side of chemistry

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Time again for my Cheers and Jeers

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

Total Home, Garden & Harvest Festival wraps up

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Pumpkin Patch Festival set for final weekend

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Sessions teach about child support process

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Arrivederci! Italian Festival

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Red Kettle Program returns for holidays

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Holiday Fashion Extravaganza registration deadline looms

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Elder depression and substance abuse topic of discussion

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Vacaville library to host composting series

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Senior Center hosts monthly travel presentation

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Napa man jailed for running over ex-girlfriend

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A4

 
Local governments schedule meetings

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4

Weather for Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Expelled Nazis paid millions in Social Security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Cruise ship docks with Ebola-watched health worker

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Friends, family of Ebola patient reach milestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Obama switches gears, confronting Ebola head on

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

CDC to revise Ebola protocol, Pentagon preps team

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
California lottery sales top $5B for first time

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Archaeologists seek movie set in California sands

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
The 10 semifinalists for World’s Funniest Person

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

On the road to find the world’s funniest person

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
New England raking in millions from leaf peepers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Police hunt for clues near where Va. remains found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Super drunk woman arrested, mistook jail for bar

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Robotic device helps paralyzed groom walk aisle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Coroner: 6 fire victims died of smoke inhalation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Pope beatifies Paul VI at remarkable synod’s end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
S. Korea: 2 Koreas exchange gunfire along border

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Sweden: 3 credible sightings in submarine search

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
5 Things to Know about Pope Paul VI

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

UN says Iraq has executed 60 people this year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Marine accused in Philippine killing tests US ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

.

Opinion

Is it truly affordable health care?

By Jim Mccully | From Page: A8

 
Suisun mayor offers his endorsements

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Which candidates support Alzheimer’s cure?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Beware a Trojan horse

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Pulse poll question

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Breaking news ‘facts’ worthy of note

By Jack Batson | From Page: A8

.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

I’m too scared to leave my abusive husband of 15 years

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Comedians honor Jay Leno with humor prize in DC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Report: Nashville songwriter Paul Craft dies at 76

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Reported ‘Easy Rider’ chopper sells at auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
‘New Girl,’ ‘Cosmos’ win Environmental Media Award

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

‘Letterman’ cue card man fired for colleague clash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
‘Fury’ blasts ‘Gone Girl’ from top of box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Manning breaks Favre’s TD mark in 42-17 win over 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Tim Lincecum waits his turn, still yet to pitch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Keselowski keeps title hopes alive at Talladega

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Palmer leads Cardinals past Raiders 24-13

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Kings pick up G Ben McLemore’s option

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockets beat Warriors 90-83 in exhibition game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pacquiao makes professional basketball debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cal receiver Trevor Davis released from hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sounders rally for 2-2 tie with LA Galaxy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rangers net 2 in 4 seconds; Lundqvist stops Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NFL roundup: Jaguars bounce Browns, gets first win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
SEC is 1st conference to put 4 in top 5 of AP poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ski champ Svindal injured while playing soccer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams hits back at Russian official

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

This date in sports history for Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Royals dependent on 3-headed bullpen monster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Hend wins Hong Kong Open in a playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Baek wins playoff to take LPGA South Korea

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Ilonen beats Stenson in World Match Play final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Jay Haas wins Greater Hickory Kia Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Ben Martin wins 1st PGA Tour title in Las Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Denkinger’s miss revisited as Series returns to KC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Facebook, Apple pay for egg freezing, sperm donors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

B.C. Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield October 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7