A new director of the commissary agency will take the helm in August, according to an announcement by defense officials.
William Moore, currently serving as the principal deputy to the Army’s deputy chief of staff for logistics, was named as new director and CEO of the Defense Commissary Agency. He is currently responsible for programming, budgeting and execution of Army logistics. According to his official Army biography, in this role he is “the Army’s leading expert and foremost authority in logistics.”
As DeCA director, Moore will oversee the management, acquisition, operation and sustainment of 236 commissaries worldwide, to include distribution centers, a meat-packing plant in Europe and other facilities. DeCA employs more than 13,000 people; and about two-thirds of the commissary agency’s work force has a direct connection with the military — military spouses, other family members, reservists, military retirees and other veterans.
The director’s position will be a key one over the next few years in possible additional commissary reform. Some defense officials have been pushing to consolidate the operations of commissaries and exchanges; there have been delays and pushback from some lawmakers. A Government Accountability Office report this spring said DOD may have overestimated the savings and underestimated the costs of consolidation in its business case analysis, and recommended that DoD reassess those savings and cost estimates and provide more information to Congress.
The DeCA director’s position has been vacant for three years, but the duties have been performed since November, 2017 by retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert Bianchi, as interim director and later as special assistant for commissary operations.
Bianchi is the CEO of the Navy Exchange Service Command, and has been overseeing both organizations for the past 33 months.
Under Bianchi’s leadership, the commissary agency initiated a number of programs to improve the shopping experience for military customers, such as revitalizing the Click2Go online shopping/curbside pickup service; introducing the “Your Everyday Savings” program, with reduced prices on about 100 items regularly bought by commissary customers; and introducing more than 900 commissary store brands aimed at providing popular items at lower prices. Under Bianchi’s watch, commissaries and Navy exchanges prepared for the influx of new customers this year as benefits were extended to all veterans with service-connected disabilities and some others. Commissaries have exceeded the congressionally-mandated overall market basket savings of 23.7 percent for commissary customers each year he has been in the interim role.
“Rob was the right leader at the right time for DeCA,” said Virginia Penrod, acting assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs, in the announcement of the new director. “His ability to anticipate requirements and build coalitions of diverse stakeholders has been key to keeping the commissary store shelves stocked and all of our stores open during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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Moore has been in the Army principal deputy role since August, 2016, but by then had more than 30 years of service as an Army civilian. He was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in October, 2006. He’s also worked in executive leadership positions with the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command and Combined Arms Support Command. Moore is the son of an Army combat veteran.
During a June, 2019 symposium, Moore said the Army could learn a lot from online retail giant Amazon, which has revolutionized the way consumers shop. “Especially when it comes to big data. We have a long way to go,” he said, in an article on Army.mil. To expedite the processing of data, Army officials created an analytics board. Stewards for various data types were established; Moore serves as the logistics data steward, according to the article.
When it comes to the retail world, data is an important tool. If the use of data could be increased to help grow sales at commissaries and in military resale in general, it would be positive, said Tom Gordy, president of the Armed Forces Marketing Council, a non-profit organization comprised of more than 400 manufacturers who supply consumer products to military resale activities worldwide.
Data helps understand consumer demand, consumer insights, consumer behavior, he said. “That data would certainly help,” he said. “That’s what the retail world does with the data today. That’s why it’s so valuable.”
About Karen Jowers
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families.” She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.