Defense officials should think about consolidating commissaries and exchanges into a single defense resale system, according to the report from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission released Thursday.
After a two-year study, the commission publicly unveiled 15 major recommendations that would change a variety of military benefits.
“Commissary and exchange benefits are valued by many service members, retirees and their families, and should be maintained,” the commission recommended.
Read the report: Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission
“Let’s stop for a minute and celebrate that the commission found that the basic commissary premise of selling at cost plus 5 percent is viable,” said Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association.
A consolidated resale organization would better sustain that benefit while over time reducing reliance on taxpayer dollars, commissioners said.
The commission recommends some cost-saving measures related to the consolidation, but they are far less than what defense officials have proposed. DoD has proposed cutting $1 billion in annual costs from the current $1.4 billion budget within a couple of years, but the commission’s estimates would start saving in fiscal 2017 — $78 million — until it reaches $515 million in annual savings by fiscal 2021.
Food would continue to be sold at cost in commissaries, but to reduce the need for taxpayer dollars, the stores would start making a profit on other items — new items like beer and wine, convenience items such as greeting cards, school supplies and cosmetics, and store brand products.
The commission recognized that there would have to be some changes in laws and policies to allow these and other changes.