Preventing Adverse Commissary Reform

June 23, 2017

Last week, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) introduced H.R. 2850, the Military Patron Protection Act (MPPA), to safeguard commissary benefits through a variety of reforms. The commissaries and exchanges at military installations are part of the defense resale system, which provides more than just savings on products to patrons. Defense resale employs large numbers of military family members and veterans; augments appropriations to Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs through dividends; offers scholarships to military children at every installation; and has a variety of other positive effects.

The MPAA asks for increased oversight of the commissary and defense resale reforms allowed through the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). MOAA remains concerned that reforms such as variable pricing and the introduction of private label products at commissaries, along with greater flexibility in the delivery of the defense resale benefit, could adversely impact military patrons and their families.

The MPPA, if made into law, would create a Military Resale Patron Advisory Commission to help ensure the views of servicemembers, veterans, and their families are given full consideration in the process of implementing major changes to commissaries and exchanges. Moreover, the MPPA would require reporting on the use of user-fee funds to reveal more about what appropriations are needed to support the full defense resale system. If user-fee funds offset too many appropriated dollars, military and veteran families could be negatively affected in a variety of other ways via other defense resale-supported programs and services. 

MOAA has been largely supportive of reforms in defense resale that preserve the longevity of the benefit, which has frequently been the target of budget cuts, only to be revived by committed congressional appropriators. Where efficiencies do not reduce the value of the benefit to the patron or other programs, they should be implemented. However, MOAA fears some reforms could be driving a wedge between patrons and the benefit, either by diluting the perceived value of the benefit or the actual delivery. Therefore, we see the MPPA as a responsible way to deliver transparency to the patron, as well as ensure the representation of their desires directly to the defense resale system. 

If you would like to write your legislator and ask them to support the Military Patron Protection Act, we've made it easy for you to make your voice heard. 

 

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