Washington Update for April 12th, 2019
Veterans Leadership Summit
Earlier this week, TREA participated in a Veterans Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. More than 37 veterans service organizations (VSOs) and military service organizations (MSOs) presented information on who they are and what they do. The Summit’s goal was to exchange information and look for ways for VSOs and MSOs to work together and collaborate on veterans and military members issues. TREA is pleased to share its slide presentation with you and asks for comments or feedback on its content. To view the slides, please go to www.trea.org home page and select the slide show click here button.
TREA Seeks Great Scrutiny of Commissary-Exchange Merger Proposal
TREA has joined with military and veterans' service organizations in asking Congress to increase oversight of the Pentagon's proposal to merge the commissary and exchange systems. TREA is asking for a review by government auditors and seeks congressional hearings.
TREA, as a member of The Military Coalition (TMC), asked House and Senate Armed Services committees leaders to pay attention to the proposal, which would consolidate the three exchange systems and some Defense Commissary Agency functions. Earlier this year, a task force drafted a business case analysis supporting that the Army and Air Force Exchange System, Navy Exchange and Marine Corps Exchange consolidate to streamline store operations. The task force also recommended that certain store functions of commissaries could be managed by the same organization, with certain grocery functions remaining separate.
The report concluded that the merger would cost $500 million in implementation, but would save an estimated $700 million to $1.3 billion in the first five years. Under the plan, the commissary and exchange stores would look the same to the consumer, but back office and other functions would be joined under a single umbrella organization.
TREA and TMC members urged caution in implementing changes to what they described as a "fragile military community ecosystem that may impact other important programs.” In addition, the letter noted “We are very concerned that proposals to merge the various elements of the defense resale system may pose a threat to its continued viability and request further study and oversight by Congress.”
The letter specifically wants the Government Accountability Office to review the proposal and called for House and Senate hearings so that interested parties could "express their concerns.” The Defense Department can merge the exchange systems without congressional approval. To combine them with portions of the commissary system, however, would require new legislation.
The task force's business case has been approved by DOD's acting chief management officer but must also be approved by Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense and, if the commissary provisions are included, Congress. By law, even if DOD approves the exchange consolidation, the Pentagon cannot implement a merger until October 1, 2019.
TREA Members: Do you use commissary and base exchange services? If so, how do you use them? TREA wants your feedback!!