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Beale Returns as DeCA's First Civilian Director

By Bonnie Powell
American Forces Press Service

FORT EUSTIS, Va., Oct. 7, 1996 – The top spot in the Defense Commissary Agency will be held by a civilian for the first time in the agency's five-year history -- and for the first time in the history of modern commissaries. The leap from military to civilian director won't be too long, however, because DoD named retired Army Maj. Gen. Richard E. Beale Jr. director for transition at DeCA.

Beale retired Sept. 30. He had been DeCA's director since 1992.


On Oct. 1, DeCA became the first federal agency to become a transitional performance-based organization. As such, DeCA aspires to adopt some characteristics of private sector companies -- including a civilian director.


"The first official commissaries were approved by Congress in 1866, and only uniformed military personnel have served as commanders or directors," said DeCA historian Peter Skirbunt. "So it's a pretty significant change."


The major difference between having a military director and a civilian director is accountability, said agency officials. A civilian director will be held accountable for the bottom line in the same way a chief executive officer at a major corporation is held accountable for the success or failure of a company.


Beale will have two top priorities: leading the agency transformation into a performance-based organization and directing day-to-day operations. Beale is now a member of the Senior Executive Service. The job is a limited-term appointment that will last three years or less. 

Ms. Powell is a writer with the Defense Commissary Agency.

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