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Commissary Cashier Hiring Program Expanded

By Bonnie J. Powell
National Guard Bureau

FORT LEE, Va., May 1, 1997 – TAPS is playing at a commissary near you. But it's not the end, it's just the beginning. A regional pilot program to speed hiring commissary cashiers has proven a major success. Now, anyone in the United States can apply to be a commissary cashier simply by picking up the phone and calling TAPS.

TAPS is the Telephone Application Processing System. "The initial test was a resounding success," said Wynn Hasty, Defense Commissary Agency director of personnel and training. "The Midwest Region has been staffing positions faster than at any time in the history of the commissary system, so the decision was made to implement the program in the United States and Puerto Rico."

In the past, a cumbersome written application and rating process has meant a wait of 60 days or more to get a new commissary cashier on board. That's a problem when turnover rates are typically 50 percent to 60 percent yearly.

The Midwest Region began testing TAPS in April 1996. "Since then, we've hired over 300 cashiers," said Vicki Carrier, Midwest Region personnel assistant. The Midwest Region has also received the green light to coordinate cashier hiring for the expanded program. "We're going from serving 34 commissaries to serving over 200," said Carrier. "Midwest Region not only carried out the pilot program successfully," Hasty said, "it is also less affected by DeCA's upcoming region reorganization."

DeCA is downsizing its continental U.S. regions from five to three.

Anyone interested in working as a commissary cashier in the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or Puerto Rico can obtain a vacancy announcement at any commissary, order it at the Office of Personnel Management web site at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov (job series 2091) or contact DeCA's Midwest Region personnel office. The announcement has the TAPS phone number and information an applicant must know before calling.

"The telephone application takes about seven minutes," said Carrier, and all applicants are evaluated electronically. Commissary officers send their recruitment requests directly to the staffing unit, and they're filled from a list of eligibles generated by the Office of Personnel Management.

Brant Smith of DeCA Personnel and Training said the agency hopes to expand the hiring program to other store positions. "Eventually, we would like to see most store workers hired under this program," he said.

DeCA's European Region has been simultaneously testing its own version of simplified applications and has already expanded it to include store workers. Because of the diversity of regulations and phone systems overseas, applicants fill out a standard form, which is faxed directly from the commissary to Office of Personnel Management for automated processing.

"Preliminary evaluations indicate this is definitely a success," said Jerry Oestreich, chief of European Region personnel and training. "To date, we've filled 148 cashier positions and 83 store workers. For the first time ever, we went through the 1996 Christmas season fully staffed!"

Europe expanded its program to the United Kingdom on April 1 and is targeting the Mediterranean for implementation in June. "Once we include the Med, the process is complete here," said Oestreich. "We are continuing to fine tune the details, and I'm in touch with the Army, Air Force, and Navy to ensure they're getting what they need and we are meeting all regulatory requirements."

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