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New System Speeds Commissary Credit Card Transactions

By Tim Ford
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT LEE, Va., Dec. 15, 1998 – Buying groceries with a credit card at the commissary is becoming just as quick and reliable as at commercial stores.

The Defense Commissary Agency and Defense Information Systems Agency developed a new system called the Direct Commercial Data Line Backup. More than 20 stores use it. All stateside commissaries should be connected by June 1999 and overseas commissaries by July 1999.

Most commissaries transmit credit card transactions over the information system agency's nonwarfighter data network. Commissaries are among that network's larger customers.

"Our primary network at times can't respond within the seconds required to complete a commercial credit card transaction," said commissary agency spokeswoman Rose Parkes. "That led to credit card downtimes and customer waits of up to several minutes -- an eternity in the fast-paced world of commissary checkouts."

The two defense agencies tested backups and chose the one that one worked best, she said. Deployment began after testing showed insignificant downtimes at six commissaries that had previously reported the most problems.

"This really is a win-win solution," Parkes said. "Our customers get commercial quality credit card support, and DeCA continues to support an important part of our national defense communications infrastructure."

[Tim Ford is a public affairs specialist for the Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, Va.]

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