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  (1/10/2018)

Current News
• SOUTH CENTRAL FLORIDA CHAPTER WINS MOAA GRANT AND DONATES FUNDS TO THE COUNTY VETERANS COUNCIL
  (10/2/2017)
• October News from MOAA National
  (9/26/2017)
• Chapter Wins 5-Star Level of Excellence Award from MOAA National
  (8/1/2017)
• News From MOAA National for July 2017
  (7/21/2017)
• June 2017 News from MOAA
  (6/22/2017)
• MOAA Awards Ceremonies for JROTC Cadets
  (5/12/2017)
• May News from MOAA
  (5/3/2017)
• Chapter Wins MOAA Communications Awards
  (5/2/2017)
• March News From MOAA
  (3/15/2017)
• Restaurants for upcoming dinner/socials
  (2/18/2017)
• February News from MOAA
  (2/1/2017)
• New Chapter Personal Affairs Director
  (1/21/2017)
• January News From MOAA National
  (1/1/2017)
• Salvation Army Toy Drive Completed
  (12/14/2016)
• Chapter Participates in Veterans Day Parade
  (11/18/2016)
• Chapter Awarded MOAA National 5-Star Level of Excellence Rating
  (8/2/2016)
• Membership Meeting Venue and Date Change
  (6/13/2016)
• JROTC award winner pictures
  (5/8/2016)

Current Issue of the
FL Council Newsletter
Communiqué


10/2/2017  SOUTH CENTRAL FLORIDA CHAPTER WINS MOAA GRANT AND DONATES FUNDS TO THE COUNTY VETERANS COUNCIL

9/26/2017  October News from MOAA National

8/1/2017  Chapter Wins 5-Star Level of Excellence Award from MOAA National

7/21/2017  News From MOAA National for July 2017

6/22/2017  June 2017 News from MOAA

5/12/2017  MOAA Awards Ceremonies for JROTC Cadets

5/3/2017  May News from MOAA

5/2/2017  Chapter Wins MOAA Communications Awards

3/15/2017  March News From MOAA

2/18/2017  Restaurants for upcoming dinner/socials

2/1/2017  February News from MOAA

1/21/2017  New Chapter Personal Affairs Director

1/1/2017  January News From MOAA National

12/14/2016  Salvation Army Toy Drive Completed

11/18/2016  Chapter Participates in Veterans Day Parade

8/2/2016  Chapter Awarded MOAA National 5-Star Level of Excellence Rating

6/13/2016  Membership Meeting Venue and Date Change

5/8/2016  JROTC award winner pictures
Chapter Newsletters

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May News from MOAA

5/3/2017

Commissaries at Risk

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an overdue report required as part of commissary reform measures included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. GAO briefed the Armed Services committees more than a year ago on their preliminary observations, but just released the report on its analysis and review of certain aspects of commissary operations. In the meantime, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has been moving full steam ahead on pilot programs in variable pricing and private-label products, directly impacting the experience of commissary patrons.  

 

The GAO report concludes that certain DeCA business processes “are not consistent with those generally employed by commercial grocery stores.” This isn’t surprising, as DeCA is constrained by law regarding how much they can charge, to whom they can sell, where they can operate, etcetera.  But the report identifies certain areas where the standards used by DeCA are inefficient. This leaves MOAA concerned, because during GAO’s evaluation of the processes, DeCA already was implementing new ways of doing business. Achieving data fidelity is difficult when the evaluation instrument is out of touch and out of sync with the subject.  The GAO concludes that:

 

    DeCA’s methodology for calculating the patron savings rate has limitations and “DeCA lacks reasonable assurance that it is maintaining its desired savings rate for patrons.” Not included in this report are DeCA’s recent changes to its savings calculation. The report goes on to say, “at the time of this review, DeCA officials could not provide evidence to support how the revised savings methodology would address all the limitations we identified, including those related to seasonal bias, sampling methodology for overseas commissaries and geographic differentiation.” Additionally, DeCA’s new calculation compares the prices of private-label items to commissary private-label items, which are not yet available at commissaries. Such a comparison is highly speculative in an area where GAO already is questioning DeCA’s methodologies.

     

      The way DeCA manages products sold at commissaries limits its ability to operate efficiently. GAO recommends DeCA find efficiencies based on store sales or customer demand. While DeCA has seen decreasing sales numbers since 2012, it is in the process of rolling out its own private label. To make room for private-label stock, commissaries will have to remove some items. Will those items be ones patrons feel strongly about losing? The report says, “DeCA has not focused on improving the management of products based on consumer demand and consequently may be missing potential opportunities to improve sales, leverage efficiencies, and achieve savings in commissary operations.” Introducing the private label as a cost-savings maneuver seems risky when other efficiencies may not have been thoroughly explored.

       

        DeCA has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis for its service contracts for stocking and custodial services and for distributing products to commissaries. More than 70 percent of the appropriations dollars (the subsidy) go to labor costs, which include staff pay and benefits, shelf stocking, transportation of goods, janitorial contracts and purchased services. There is an argument to be made that DeCA should have explored some savings opportunities from the largest part of the government’s subsidy prior to introducing variable pricing, a private label, and changing the way patrons shop.

         

        MOAA’s main concern is that GAO’s report indicates there are many more avenues of savings that have not yet been explored. If sales are decreasing, and DeCA loses additional patrons based on its new reforms, what does that mean for foot traffic at the exchanges — and the resulting dividends to local Morale, Welfare and Recreation funds?

         

        Commissary reform laws allow DeCA to become a non-appropriated fund (NAF) entity if existing pilots for variable pricing and private label are successful. DoD is required to brief the Armed Services committees before those extra steps can be taken. Some questions remain:

         

        • Will those briefings be made public?

        • How have the three requirements of patron savings, satisfaction, and product quality been maintained?

        • Has the change in savings benchmark calculations lowered the bar for savings if it doesn’t include exact comparisons?

        • What items will patrons see go away to make room for private label, and what assurance is there patrons will not be less satisfied as a result? 

           

          The Armed Services committees have reserved oversight authority over all of these reforms. They need to hear from you – and many MOAA members have sent messages asking their legislators to ensure their oversight includes assessment of these gaps noted by the GAO.

           

          MOAA Members Respond to Arlington National Cemetery Capacity Issues

           

           

           

          Ways to Volunteer for Military Causes
          Many Americans want to do something to show their appreciation for the military, and summer is a great time for MOAA Chapters to start a volunteer project.

           

          Some choose to work with one of more than 400,000 organizations that support the military because a group effort often maximizes the help of individuals, through donated materials and other bulk resources. For instance, you probably can’t personally construct a smart home for a disabled servicemember like the Gary Sinise Foundation does.  

           

          But could you grow a beard? Run a race? Set up a lemonade stand for a “real Lt. Dan”?  Sinise says they’ll take it. 

           

          Here are some other ways you can volunteer to benefit servicemembers, veterans, and military families. 

           

          Use your unique talents and abilities: Are you good at filling out tax returns? Can you set up a simple website? Can you offer college or career counseling or mentoring? Do you have a small business? If you’ve answered yes, then check out the Thank A Vet Network, which is a national registry that connects you to eligible injured veterans and military families in need of these services.  

           

          Collect things: Soldiers’ Angels can show you how to set up a drive to collect used electronic devices, cellphones and accessories, laptops, and other items. Into recycling? You can collect printer and toner cartridges to benefit Soldiers’ Angels, too. 

           

          Un-collect things: Operation Gratitude has a program to distribute Beanie Babies to service people. Really.  

           

          Militarize your hobbies: Do you quilt? Organizations like Quilts of Valor want you. Knit or crochet? Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation or Operation Gratitude will sign you up. Bake cookies or cakes? Operation We Are Here and Angel Bakers Team can tell you how to package and ship them to servicemembers. 

           

          Get the teenagers and kids involved: Through Operation Gratitude, teenagers and kids can learn how to create “cool-ties” or even paracord survival bracelets for deployed military personnel — and get community service certification for their efforts. They can discover the frillier side of helping with Operation Top Knot and Operation Shower, both of which provide virtual and on-site baby showers for military families, and Brides Across America, which gives volunteers ways to help provide wedding dresses and accessories for military couples.

           

          Send care packages — hundreds of thousands of them: Operation Gratitude, Operation We Are Here, The Hugs Project, Operation Interdependence, local chapters of Blue Star Mothers, and many other organizations need help packing snacks, hygiene items, magazines, and other items to mail to deployed military personnel.  

           

          The personal touch: You can serve as a greeter at an airport or as a listening friend at a veterans’ retirement home. Write “a letter from home” to servicememembers from you personally or from hundreds who will sign them at tables you can set up in shopping centers and malls as suggested by the National Remember Our Troops Campaign. An inexpensive and modern option is personalized email, accompanied by a “Cup of joe for a Joe” code through Green Beans Coffee.  

           

          “I appreciated that almost more than 15 or so cards from people I didn’t even know,” says Maj. Carla Gleason, USAF, of treasured correspondence sent to her by Blue Star Moms during her recent deployment overseas. “The [military] recipient gets a glimpse into the lives of the individuals he or she is serving for,” Gleason says. “Sometimes it’s inspiring to remember that. People who write personal letters of thanks helped me remember why I chose to leave my family for a time and serve my country.” 

           

          Find local opportunities: Locally, veterans’ medical facilities look for volunteers to drive people to appointments and provide other needed help. For other opportunities, contact your neighborhood United Way, United Service Organizations, Disabled American Veterans, Blue Star Mothers chapters, any VFW Post, or MOAA chapter. Many of the other organizations mentioned above have local offices as well.