What’s Next for the Military Shopping Benefit?

What’s Next for the Military Shopping Benefit?
The exchange and commissary at Fort Belvoir, Va. (Kevin Robinson/Defense Commissary Agency)

The annual defense authorization act has set deadlines for reports and recommendations on plans to consolidate the commissary and military exchange systems – plans that could affect the value of your earned shopping benefit.


MOAA supported the inclusion of these measures in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as a way to ensure any proposed consolidation would include accurate analysis of cost savings and ensure continued benefits to both shoppers and the morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) programs supported by exchange-generated funds. When it comes to consolidation plans, the important dates are:

  • March 1, when a 2018 study on defense resale consolidation must be updated to include a new business case analysis (BCA). A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report into the initial BCA found the authors “may have overestimated savings and underestimated costs” of the consolidation when reporting the move could save between $690 million and $1.3 billion over five years.
  • April 1, when DoD must make the report available to service secretaries for comment.
  • June 1, when the report must be in the hands of House and Senate Armed Services Committee members and include any comments by the secretary of defense.


[RELATED: MOAA-Backed Restart of Lender Exams Will Protect Military Families’ Finances]


DoD cannot act on any consolidation efforts until the committees receive this update, according to the NDAA. MOAA looks forward to a transparent process – one that will address BCA concerns but also keep focus on preserving the value of the shopping benefit and the MWR funds brought in by the exchanges.


This last point was part of the GAO report, which made clear exchange officials “are concerned that exchange revenue currently used for morale, welfare, and recreation programs could be used to pay for consolidation expenses or to reduce the amount of appropriated funds allocated to the commissaries.”


MOAA will continue to work with legislators to protect this earned benefit and ensure any consolidation-related moves or projected savings don’t come at shoppers’ expense. MOAA members have responded to previous calls to action on this issue; stay updated at MOAA.org and on MOAA’s Advocacy News page for the latest on this and other legislative topics.


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and MOAA.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley