The Direct Commissary Support System Should Be Expanded To Include More Army Commissaries in Europe

LCD-80-55: Published: May 20, 1980. Publicly Released: May 20, 1980.

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The Direct Commissary Support System was developed in 1971 to fill routine requisitions from Army and Air Force commissaries overseas. The system eliminates the need for maintaining large inventories in overseas depots by supplying nonperishable, brand-name, resale items directly from vendors and depots in the United States. It has streamlined the flow of these items to Europe and has resulted in cost savings and other benefits not available under the in-theater depot system. System benefits include reduced prices from volume procurement, reduced order-ship time for moving items from the United States to Europe, reduced local transportation costs, increased fill rates and timely deliveries; increased product selection, and fresher products.

Despite the System's benefits, GAO found that the Army was not taking full advantage of the direct support system since 17 Army commissaries in Europe were receiving support from an in-theater depot. The System's expansion during 1971 to 1978 demonstrated that Army and Air Force commissary officials were committed to the System. However, expansion ceased in 1978 because the Army believed that continued conversion would aggravate a perceived shortfall of in-theater subsistence items by reducing brand-name, resale subsistence levels below those needed to meet the Army's war reserve requirements. GAO found that the Army's wartime subsistence requirements were overstated because they reflected required troop strength levels rather than those currently in the force structure and those able to arrive in Europe when required. Also, all available in-theater subsistence assets were not identified nor appropriately applied against the requirements. Therefore, based on sales volume, warehouse space, container deliveries, and other conversion criteria, GAO believes that 4 of the 17 commissaries should be converted immediately to the System. The remaining commissaries could be converted either independently or through a satelliting arrangement.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: To maximize the System's benefits, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Troop Support Agency to convert the Kitzingen, Erlangen, Illesheim, and Schwaebisch Gmuend commissaries to the System, and assess the potential for converting the remaining Army commissaries to direct support either directly or through a satelliting arrangement. In order to properly assess the war reserve issue, the Secretary should direct a coordinated approach by the U.S. Army, Europe, and the Defense Logistics Agency and its subordinate activities to (1) establish the B-ration rotation base stock level at the depot based on the ability to rotate the stock within a reasonable timeframe, and (2) properly consider the availability of in-theater subsistence assets at the troop issue points, commissaries, and exchange system facilities as a source for meeting the war reserve requirements.

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