Commissary users will be pleased to know that the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel has finally endorsed several reforms that will affect how commissary groceries are priced and sold on U.S. military bases worldwide.
This new commissary reform package took into account advice given by the grocery industry, and it’s said to promise to keep prices low. One of the major stumbling blocks in the past was the possibility that prices would rise. The new package also addresses many issues that will help modernize operations within the commissary system. It will also lower subsidies by more than $500 million a year by 2021.
This saved money will be used for readiness purposes according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff who have already testified that they want to use this money for equipment and training. With defense budgets being slashed, officials are looking for every dollar they can find to help offset cutbacks.
The new package will be included in the full armed services committee markup of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill that is heading to Congress now. The package also includes other issues associated with commissary operations such as the use of private label brands, price testing on a larger scale, and changing base grocers to base exchanges.
To help relieve concerns that prices would go up, language has been added to the package by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), subcommittee chairman, that promises to protect prices by setting up a baseline for savings, as well as quarterly reviews on how savings are being maintained. Also, if store revenues are less than expected, taxpayer funding will be used to offset the difference before increasing prices above established set points.
The subcommittee also cleared a request for a basic pay raise of 2.1 percent, which would match what is being seen in the private sector. The administration, however, proposed a 1.6 percent pay raise.
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