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The Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee acted on the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Bill on April 30. The Subcommittee did not include any changes to the law governing the operations of the Defense commissaries. It called for a review of the impact of price changes and displacing current value and name-brand products with private-label products along with several other management and operational areas of the Defense Commissary Agency.
The full Armed Services Committee will consider the Subcommittee language and also calls for a $100 million reduction in the appropriations provided to the commissary program. In announcing the $100 million reduction, Chairman Buck McKeon said that he "rejects cuts to compensation programs that result in increased out-of-pocket costs for the military" but that he "understands that efficiencies can be made that reduce the cost of the program without increasing prices."
ALA position on the HASC action on commissaries
- We are gratified that the Committee recognizes the value of the benefit and saying that prices should not be increased to patrons.
- We welcome the review called for by the Personnel Subcommittee because we are confident that this review will re-affirm the importance and relevance of the commissary benefit.
- We will work with DeCA to find efficiencies to reduce costs without impacting the benefit. DeCA already has cut its annual operating costs by $700 million and is working to implement a $46 million reduction taken by the appropriations committees in the fiscal year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. We continue to believe that the 17,000 DeCA workers who have for years dedicated themselves to serve the military should be recognized for their high levels of patron service by any industry measure as well as their unparalleled efforts to control costs.
- We are concerned that the $100 million in efficiency reductions called for by the Committee will not be achieved in time to prevent store closures and curtailment of operating hours.
- The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission is conducting a holistic and balanced review of compensation including an examination of areas where costs can be reduced without impacting the benefit. We support this review and would urge delay of any cuts until such time as the report mandated by the House and the review being conducted by the Commission is complete, so that cuts do not take place ahead of the agency's ability to achieve them without impacting the benefit.
House bill calls for $100 million 'efficiency' cut in commissary budget
Read the Full Story
Military Times, Karen Jowers
Although House lawmakers are resisting — for now — the Pentagon's call to slash the annual commissary operating budget by two-thirds over three years, the House Armed Services Committee appears comfortable with a more modest budget cut next year.
DoD makes last-ditch plea for compensation cuts in 2015
Read the Full Story
Military Times, Leo Shane III
The Pentagon brass recently made a last stand in the months-long battle for military compensation reform, imploring senators to back plans to trim troops' pay raises and benefits in the fiscal 2015 budget.
Patrick B. Nixon
President, American Logistics Association
Lawmakers move to block Navy plan to restrict tobacco sales
House lawmakers recently moved to protect tobacco sales on military bases and ships, prohibiting Navy plans to drop the problematic products in the name of force health. As part of its annual defense authorization bill mark up, the House Armed Services Committee added language forbidding defense officials from enacting "any new policy that would limit, restrict, or ban the sale of any legal consumer product category" on military installations.
House panel rejects most proposed military benefit curbs
The House armed services' subcommittee on military personnel has rejected Pentagon plans to: slow increases in military housing allowances starting next year; raise TRICARE fees on families and retirees, and narrow coverage by ending TRICARE Prime, the military's managed care option. But in shaping personnel sections of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill (HR 4435), the subcommittee wouldn't block a planned military pay cap for January. Also, subcommittee chair Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., hinted that the Defense Commissary Agency's budget would be squeezed, and presumably so would shopper savings, if base grocery stores can't run more efficiently.
Hagel urges Congress not to alter defense budget proposal
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently urged Congress to give the Pentagon "flexibility" in its fiscal 2015 budget proposal one day after the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee proposed shifting billions of dollars to fund major weapons programs and undo Defense Department reform initiatives.
Military Media Inc.
While most newspapers and print media are losing readership and advertising revenue to digital media, niche market newspapers are continuing to thrive.
Niche market newspapers like those published for local communities such as military bases are thriving because they provide advertisers a way to zero-in on their specific target markets. These newspapers are free and delivered to homes on military bases and placed in high traffic areas around the community. They enjoy a very high readership rate among the audience to which they are delivered.
HASC bill would shift billions to weapons, readiness accounts
The U.S. House Armed Services Committee wants to shift billions of dollars from things such as service contracts and museums to Pentagon weapon programs. In its version of the 2015 Pentagon authorization legislation, the panel proposes a slew of funding transfers that would give the services billions to refuel the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, develop missile defenses with Israel, buy EA-18G aircraft and upgrade Abrams tanks.
Hagel orders DOD-wide alcohol review after sex assault report
Stars and Stripes
The Pentagon is targeting alcohol consumption in its battle to curb sexual assaults in the military. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced a department-wide review of the services' alcohol policies during a news conference, the same day that the Pentagon released its latest report on sexual assault within the ranks. The Defense Department revealed there were more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault by service members in fiscal 2013, a 50 percent increase over the previous year.
Committee chair rejects DoD's compensation reforms; adjusts A-10 Fleet retirement
Association of Defense Communities
The full committee portion of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill rejects most of the Obama administration's proposed reforms to military benefits, including plans to slash subsidies for commissaries and slow increases in the basic allowance for housing. The chairman's mark rejects other cost-saving reforms in the Pentagon's FY 2015 budget as well, including plans to retire the Navy's 11th aircraft carrier and to hold a new BRAC round in 2017.
Survey Shows Overwhelming Opposition to DoD Budget Cuts...
A recent survey conducted by Military.com showed overwhelming opposition to the Pentagon's recommendations to curb personnel costs by reducing military benefits to include pay, housing, commissaries, and health care. The survey, which garnered responses from more than 8,400 service members, their spouses, veterans and retirees, confirmed that:
- 96 percent of respondents disagreed with suggestions from military leaders that troops understand the need to reduce benefits in order to pay for equipment and training.
- 81 percent of active-duty troops disagreed with reducing subsidies for commissaries.
- 9 in 10 junior enlisted personnel disagreed with reducing subsidies for commissaries.
Survey: 9 in 10 Troops Oppose Cuts to Pay, BAH About nine in 10 active-duty service members oppose the Defense Department's proposals to reduce their pay raises and basic allowances for housing, according to a new survey by Military.com. Read More
Coalition and Valued Associates Advocacy and Actions...
Military.com also hosted a National Spouse Summit on May 6. Save Our Benefit, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), National Military Family Association, and Blue Star Families participated as part of a discussion on "The Affect Sequestration May Have on Your Military Life." The event was moderated by Terry Howell, Military.com Director of Strategic Alliances and Outreach. Each expert discussed what they see as the major issue or benefit that will suffer under the Department of Defense (DoD) proposed FY15 budget cuts. The event was attended by nearly 300 military spouses, as well as staff members for the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, who were interested in hearing the discussion.
Commission Could Decide Future Pay and Benefits While Pentagon leaders tell Congress it must cut pay and benefits to maintain readiness at a time of lean budgets, the commission with the actual task of recommending changes to compensation is preparing an interim report due in June. Read More
The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on military compensation was also held on May 6. The full roster of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appeared before the committee, as well as military service associations to include: the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), Air Force Association (AFA), Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).
To view the archived hearing, visit: http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/14-05-06-military-compensation.
Commissary Web Posts
The following commissary items were posted to the ALA Website between 10 AM, April 30, 2014 and 10 AM, May 8, 2014:
DP #10, Update #2.
DP #12, Far East Quantities.
DP #13, Far East Quantities.
Thanksgiving/Christmas WW Seasonal Package – Cookies/Crackers/Fruitcake.
Thanksgiving/Christmas WW Seasonal Package – Holiday Non-Food Program.
Winter Cocoa/Cider/Miscellaneous WW Program.
Halloween, Far East & Alaska Quantities.
Father's Day, Update #1.
NOTICES TO TRADE (NTT)
14-42, CONUS Only September Case Lot Sale – 2014.
Adds/Changes/Deletes for Weeks 14-18 & 14-19.
ALA May 1 & 2 Commissary Roundtable Presentations.
CRV Values, May 4, 2014.
Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission
The commission has again scheduled hearings. Please help spread the word and attend as many of these public hearings as possible. Here is the schedule:
- MacDill AFB, FL, 22 May 2014 Updated
- Ft Bragg, NC, 25-26 June 2014 Updated
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
ALA Rocky Mountain Chapter Meeting, May 28, 2014: The meeting is scheduled for 10:00 am in the Buckley AFB conference room. For more information please call Dave Smith @ 303-263-2988 or Paul Grier @ 719-201-8821
ALA Congressional Caucus, June 24, 2014, Washington, DC REGISTRATION OPEN
ALA Hawaii Conference & Food Show, August 2014, Honolulu
ALA Washington Chapter Jim Griffin Memorial Golf Outing, September 17, 2014, Ft. Belvoir Golf Course
ALA National Convention, October 27 - 29, 2014, Hyatt Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.
Commissary case lot sales to resume in August
Commissary case lot sales are returning, announced Defense Commissary Agency director Joseph Jeu. Jeu spoke at a commissary round table meeting of the American Logistics Association, whose members include manufacturers and distributors of products sold in commissaries, exchanges and other retail outlets on military bases. The sales will resume this year from mid-August through September, said DeCA spokesman Kevin Robinson.
Spicy foods are taking over grocery store shelves
Spicy foods have never played a starring role in American kitchens. For decades, our meat-and-potatoes diets left little room for adventure at the grocery store, where the closest you got to some heat was a bottle of Tabasco. That's changing in a big way, however. American taste buds are getting bolder, and food producers are kicking their products up a serious notch or two in response.
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Deloitte: America's household brands losing ground
U.S. consumers are pushing their shopping carts past many of America's national brands and feel little regret in doing so, according to Deloitte's American Pantry Study of more than 375 brands across 30 product categories. Seven in 10 shoppers (71 percent) say they're spending less on food, beverage and household goods, but don't feel like they're sacrificing much. In fact, only 31 percent of brands are considered a "must have" one that shoppers would buy whether on sale or not consistent with the last four years that Deloitte has conducted the survey.
Grocery shopping hacks: 5 money-saving tips from $5 Dinner Mom
When it comes to making family dinners, many working parents often run into the same problem: The pantry is stocked but ignored in favor of another pizza night. It's a common complaint from parents juggling the demands of working full-time while running a household: Even though they may go to the grocery store on a regular basis, planning out meals and then having the time to cook those meals, is difficult and sometimes food goes to waste. But in the long run, not doing that can be bad for the family and their finances.
A Healthy Body • A Healthy Mind • A Healthy Life
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Cummins Allison: Checks remain popular form of payment
Alternative currencies such as Bitcoin are making headlines, and many retailers are paying increasing attention to their potential. However, although these innovative currencies may be in the news, awareness among U.S. consumers is still quite low. In fact, in a recent survey, 76 percent said they were not at all familiar with Bitcoin. Since alternative currencies aren't likely to become commonplace in the near term, it's no surprise that checks remain a highly used method of payment.
Survey: Consumers willing to pay more for local
One-third of consumers — compared with less than one-quarter in 2013 — said they would pay 10 percent more for local food, according to a recent survey from A.T. Kearney. However, the percentage of respondents who would pay a premium for local remained the same as last year (70 percent). The survey also points to the growth of the local food movement. While lack of availability was still the No. 1 factor for not buying local, the percentage of consumers who said, "Products are not available at my retailer," fell 10 to 47 percent this year.
ALA NY's annual West Point Golf Outing
The ALA NY Chapter is having its annual West Point Golf Outing on Monday, June 23. Proceeds from the event benefit the Military Commanders' Scholarship Fund.
We do not currently have an online registration process - any inquiries can be directed to me at this email address: email@example.com.
VCS announces new Executive Director
Director Marketing & Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VETERANS CANTEEN SERVICE
May 2, 2014
1 Jefferson Barracks Rd.
Appointment of Joseph R. Tober,
St. Louis, MO 63125
Executive Director of the Veterans Canteen Service
The Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Joseph R. Tober as the new Executive Director of Veterans Canteen Service (VCS). VCS provides retail and food services to over 200 VA facilities generating over $429 million in annual revenue. Tober will lead over 3600 executing canteen operations including emphasis on standardization of national programs and policies. His primary focus will be placed on providing the highest level of quality, value and service to Veterans enrolled in VA Healthcare system, their families, VA staff, caretakers and visitors to VA hospitals.
Mr. Tober joined the VCS in 1992. In 2008, he was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) responsible for the day-to-day operations of canteen activities. From 1992-2008, Tober served as the Associate Director, Resources and Support Veterans Canteen Service. He is a U.S. Army Veteran and has over 38 years of Federal Service to include assignments with the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Defense.
Mr. Tober possesses a Master's Degree from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri and Bachelor's Degree from University of Maryland. He has extensive leadership certifications to include: Executive Leadership Development in 2011, Federal Executive Institute in 2004, Leadership VA in2001, VA Healthcare Leadership Institute in 2000, and Defense Equal Opportunity management Institute in 2000.
He serves on several committees including Co-chair of Logistics and Procurement, member of National Leadership Council (NLC), Workforce Systems Management Community of Practice, Strategic Plan and Communications, and NLC Capitol and Logistics Sub-Committee.
Sources: Exchange eyes opening online store to all vets
Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials want to expand shopping privileges at the online exchange store to all honorably discharged veterans, sources said. That would open the online store to about 20 million veterans, according to a source familiar with the discussions. AAFES officials contend the move would have no negative impact on current eligible shoppers — and would be a boon to revenues and profits that support military morale, welfare and recreation programs on installations.
Wal-Mart and CEOs meet to accelerate supply chain innovation
Chain Store Age
Wal-Mart recently joined with CEOs from more than a dozen global companies to sign new commitments that accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture and recycling. The pledges kicked off Wal-Mart's first-ever Sustainable Product Expo, a three-day collaboration to expand the availability of products that sustain people and the environment. Together, the participating suppliers represent more than $100 billion in sales at Wal-Mart.
Burberry's 'wicked smart' Ahrendts poised to make over Apple's stores
Angela Ahrendts might not, at first glance, fit in with Apple's jeans-and-button-down dress code. But the former CEO of British luxury retailer Burberry Group could be just what the consumer electronics maker needs to spruce up its retail operations. "She shares our values and our focus on innovation," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an October email to employees announcing Ahrendts' appointment. "She believes in enriching the lives of others, and she is wicked smart."
NRF: Families look to shower mom with gift cards, brunch, apparel items this Mother's Day
National Retail Federation
After splurging on tablets and smartphones, beauty supplies, apparel and jewelry for mom last year, consumers this year will celebrate Mother's Day keeping practicality in mind. According to NRF's 2014 Mother's Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, Americans will spend an average of $162.94 on mom this year, down from a survey high of $168.94 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $19.9 billion.
With luxury brands, outlet centers give malls a run for their money
Los Angeles Times
Since 2006, 40 outlet centers have opened in the United States while only one new regional mall has emerged, according to Value Retail News. The rise of the discounter coincided with the decline of the economy. Hard times helped erase the stigma that once caused high rollers and fashion snobs to recoil at the thought of outlets. Additionally, many upscale brands see value in moving their sale-priced merchandise out of their full-priced showcase stores, where old, discounted stock ruins the ambiance. Hiding such inventory in an outlet may be a safer strategy that, as a bonus, helps connect the brand to a new consumer base of bargainistas.
Insurance site and Wal-Mart in deal to sell auto policies
The New York Times
Wal-Mart recently made plans to add a new consumer service to its arsenal of offerings, teaming up with a website that helps customers comparison shop for auto insurance. The website, AutoInsurance.com, allows consumers to review prices at several insurance companies and contrast them with their current insurance. Effectively, Wal-Mart and AutoInsurance.com will be marketing partners.
Consumers clamor for DIY health care disruption
It's not just the freedom to get an after-hours flu shot at a retail clinic: Turns out consumers are clamoring for all kinds of digital not-yet-on-your-doctor's-radar health care services, according to a new survey from PwC's Health Research Institute. In fact, the growing list of services from in-store clinics, such as CVS' Minute Clinic, Walgreens' Healthcare Clinic and Target Clinics, are just the tip of the DIY healthcare iceberg.
Smokeless tobacco growing at twice the rate of cigarettes' decline
Cigarette-category volumes in convenience stores were down 2.8 percent during the four-week period ended April 12, according to a research report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. This sales decrease follows a 2.2 percent drop in the prior four-week period and laps 4.0 percent decline in April 2013.
GameStop to close 120-130 stores open 300-400 tech stores under new banners
Chain Store Age
GameStop Corp. will close 120-130 of its 6,457 stores worldwide in 2014 and add 300 to 400 new tech stores under three different banners: Spring Mobile, Cricket and Simply Mac. The closures and openings are part of the company's new "GameStop3.0" repositioning. The new strategy emphasizes mobile-gaming.
Starbucks to enter soft-drink wars this summer
The Seattle Times
Starbucks, eager to make money well beyond the realm of coffee, is officially entering the soda wars. This summer, the coffee shop's baristas will offer a handcrafted carbonated beverage dubbed "Fizzio" in 3,000 stores in the Sunbelt, as well as in Singapore, South Korea and several cities in China, according to CEO Howard Schultz.
New generation of paper catalogs help drive e-commerce retail sales
The Future of Commerce
Shopping online is incredibly fast and convenient, but it lacks the gratifying experience of looking at goods beautifully displayed—how you might style that skirt, which lamps you might choose to go with that sofa. That's exactly why the old-fashioned catalog is still filling up your mailbox, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. This paper dinosaur plays a crucial role in driving e-commerce, because it gives the customer the opportunity to fantasize about the goods on display within its pages.
Sears' loyal customers receive personalized service
The Associated Press
As Sears looks to boost sales, customers have a new reason to join the company's loyalty club: personalized service. The company recently released a service called Get Advice. Here, Shop Your Way customers can tap into a broader community of thousands of Sears associates and tens of millions of loyalty members nationwide for purchasing advice.
The birth of big-box stores
In 1962, the Cold War nearly turned hot, with the Cuban Missile Crisis bringing the United States and the Soviet Union within a hair of nuclear war. On the other side of the world, the war in Vietnam got bloodier. Seattle unveiled its iconic Space Needle as part of the World’s Fair, and Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors was mesmerizing basketball fans across the country, pouring in 100 points in one game, alone. The same year, but with much less fanfare, 44-year-old Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart discount store in Rogers, Arkansas.
What's different about tomorrow's mall: You never have to leave
As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em — mimic 'em? As far as convenience goes, it's hard for physical retailers to compete with their online foes, where consumers can search for the latest products without even pausing to get dressed. But bricks-and-mortar stores aren't giving up. In order to better compete with their Web-only counterparts, physical stores and the malls that house them are aiming to bring the ease of online shopping to the real world, utilizing a new genre of tenants and technologies.
Sweets & Snacks Expo to highlight healthy choices
The role of candy in a healthful diet will be the focus of the 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo, ranging from education opportunities during a keynote session to tasting panel participation by dieticians. Also, many of the exhibiting companies are planning new launches with health front of mind through portion control packaging and simple ingredient sourcing, according to the National Confectioners Association.
From spandex to Dress Blues
Strip 1st Lt. Scott T. Wilson of rank, uniform, and the title of Marine. See him as a lean, tall gentleman in his thirties. Now imagine him being lit on fire, jumping out of a window 42 feet above water, hitting it and surviving. Is that something a Marine officer does on his weekends? Perhaps. The jump was a feat Wilson performed as a stunt actor before swearing the oath, and later, pawing his way through cold mud to earn the title Marine. Every Marine has a unique story for how they came to wear the uniform, but few include Hollywood and performing death defying stunts.
Federal employees can't ask private organizations for gifts
Federal employees, including service members, aren't allowed to solicit private organizations for gifts in an official capacity. They can accept certain offers, but should be aware of the difference between the two. "It's really important as a government official to remember that you're serving the public. If we ask for a donation or ask for a gift, then basically that could create a conflict of interest," said Albert Veldhuyzen, chief of administrative law for the Fort Belvoir Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.
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