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Mikulski Praises DOD Report

June 7th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Military Families Caucus and Veterans Caucus, and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and today praised the Department of Defense (DOD) for completing its report on the defense commissary system, as requested in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016, and urged for Senate adoption of amendment #4204 to prevent commissary privatization until the effects and costs can be fully assessed and evaluated by the DOD and Congress.

 

“I’m fighting to protect our commissaries because service members and their families deserve the benefits they’ve earned and a government on their side,” Senator Mikulski said. “Commissaries are the military's most popular earned benefit. As this Defense Department report shows, privatizing commissaries would be penny wise and pound foolish. It would mean increasing costs, reducing benefits and slashing jobs that veterans and military families rely on. With this bipartisan amendment, we will keep commissary doors open to provide low-cost, healthy food to our service members and their families until we’re certain there’s a better alternative.”

 

“The Defense Department has clearly demonstrated that it would be ill-advised of Congress to move forward at this time on mandating privatization of commissaries, the most popular benefit among service members and their families,” said Senator Inhofe. “This report raises a red flag that privatizing a handful of commissaries, as the NDAA’s current language would do, will hurt the purchasing power to achieve cost savings for military families and veterans. It will also impact the commissary and exchange workforce, which is made up, in large part, of military family members. The DOD has privatized small components of the system already where it makes sense, and the department is still collecting information from industry in order to do its due diligence to protect the cost savings and access to this popular benefit before moving forward on significant change. With 80 percent of our active duty personnel using the commissary, and with military families and veterans achieving roughly 30 percent savings in their household purchases, Congress needs to pause and let DOD finish its efforts at studying and reforming this benefit.”

 

The report titled “Plan to Obtain Budget Neutrality for Commissary and Exchange System” acknowledges that: “privatization would not be able to replicate the range of benefits, level of savings and geographic reach provided by DeCA while achieving budget neutrality.” The mandated Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of this plan is underway.

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