No. 004-B


FACT SHEETOctober 1, 1996 (703)697-5737(public/industry)

Defense Commissary Agency


Why commissaries exist

Headquartered at Fort Lee, Va., the Defense Commissary Agency serves as a provider of low-cost groceries to U.S. military service members around the world. Commissaries sell items at cost plus five percent. Customers save over 25 percent by shopping in commissaries when compared with prices in commercial grocery stores.

Established in 1990 by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, DeCA took form in 1991 maintains a proud tradition of service going back to 1826. DeCA's mission is to ensure military readiness and retention of quality personnel by providing a valuable part of the military compensation package, which enhances quality of life through a worldwide commissary system for the resale of groceries and household supplies to authorized patrons. Surveys consistently place the commissary privilege at the top of service members' most valued non-pay compensations, along with medical care.

Number of commissary stores

DeCA operates 309 commissaries with 18,000 employees at U.S. military sites worldwide. Management philosophy is customer-service oriented, with six regional headquarters based at Montgomery Air Force Base, Ala., Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Calif., Fort Meade, Md., Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, Virginia Beach, Va., and Kapaun Air Station, Germany.

Savings better under DeCA

Since it's formation, DeCA has raised average customer savings from just over 24 percent to over 25 percent.

DeCA's sales figures

Sales of $5.3 billion were recorded for Fiscal Year 1995. Commissaries do a tremendous volume with smaller stores, fewer people, and less than half the operating hours per week of their commercial grocery counterparts Budget sense.

The appropriation breakdown:

1991.....................none, DeCA formed later in year

1992.....................$980.1 million

1993.....................$1.107 billion

1994.....................$1.091 billion

1995.....................$940.1 million

1996.....................$878.7 million

Agency reengineering and streamlining are credited for meeting annual budgets.

SAVER 2000 --

This is the agency's plan to lead into the next century. SAVER stands for "Service to patrons, Access to modern stores, Value in quality merchandise at low prices, Efficiency in savings to taxpayers and Responsiveness to our patrons, and taxpayers."

Performance Based Organization (PBO)

It's new to the U.S., but the concept has been used successfully in the British commonwealth nations for more than 10 years. PBOs are government activities that provide services. They are allowed to challenge and request changes to long-standing rules and regulations that hinder efficiency and service. The intent is to enhance service and reduce the cost to the taxpayer. PBOs are a key part of the administration's effort to provide a government that works better and costs less.

Why make DeCA a PBO?

DeCA was formed in 1991 when the military services' commissary systems were consolidated into one agency. DeCA has squeezed as much operational efficiency and savings as it can under existing policies and regulations. DeCA's success in reducing costs, while maintaining a high level of service to its customers, made it an ideal PBO candidate. PBO status will let DeCA cut through more red tape, become more responsive to its customers and more accountable to the American taxpayer. The PBO allows DeCA to employ commercial grocery business practices to improve efficiency, enhance customer access and provide a more progressive operation. Many initiatives that the agency seeks can be done with Department of Defense approval. Others involve collaboration and partnership with unions, consent from federal agencies such as the Office of Personnel Management, or even approval by Congress through legislative action.

Today's military consumer is more mobile and discerning, more are married and more have working spouses. They value choice and convenience in addition to price. PBO will enable DeCA to tailor its business to the emerging military patron demographics.

Impact on Employees

PBO status does not change the employment status of any DeCA employee. As time passes, DeCA, in partnership with the unions that represent employees, will design new human resource initiatives, to help DeCA run more efficiently and effectively.

Customer Suggestions Welcome

Better service is often the direct result of customer input. Please forward ideas for improvement to:

Defense Commissary Agency
ATTN: Office of the Inspector General
1300 E. Avenue
Fort Lee VA 23801-1800