United States General Accounting Office GAO Report to the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services and Subcommittees on Defense, Senate and House Committees on Appropriations March 2003 DEFENSE INFRASTRUCTURE Personnel Reductions Have Not Hampered Most Commissaries’ Store Operations and Customer Service GAO-03-417 March 2003 DEFENSE INFRASTRUCTURE Personnel Reductions Have Not Highlights of GAO-03-417, a report to Hampered Most Commissaries’ Store Senate and House Committees on Armed Services and Subcommittees on Defense, Operations and Customer Service Senate and House Committees on Appropriations In response to concerns about the The Defense Commissary Agency’s commissary operations and impact of proposed cuts in the customer services have been maintained at the same level, and in some Defense Commissary Agency’s cases improved, despite the recent reductions in workforce. As of workforce, the House Armed December 31, 2002, the agency had completed most of its 3,047 planned Services Committee placed in its personnel reductions in full-time positions. It accomplished this primarily report on the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for by achieving efficiencies or eliminating vacant positions in the stores. Only Fiscal Year 2003 a requirement 122 employees have been separated and 341 retired as a result of the that we evaluate the effect of the personnel cutbacks. personnel reductions. Specifically, we assessed (1) the status of A major focus of DeCA’s personnel reductions, as outlined in its strategic personnel reductions and how they plan, was to reshape the workforce and develop a more efficient have affected store operations and organization. We found that commissaries are making greater use of customer service, and (2) whether part-time employees because of the reductions. This has allowed some the agency uses a reliable stores to increase their operating hours to better meet customer needs. It methodology to measure customer has also given store managers more flexibility in meeting workload satisfaction with its commissaries. fluctuations. However, DeCA’s strategic plan does not include specific goals for achieving a certain full-time/part-time workforce mix in stores. As a result, the planned percentage of part-time positions varies widely by store. We are recommending that the A recent customer satisfaction survey showed that commissary patrons Under Secretary of Defense expressed high satisfaction with their overall shopping experience, as well (Personnel and Readiness) require as with such key indicators as time waiting in line and convenient hours. the Director of the Defense However, the managers of the smaller commissaries reported concerns over Commissary Agency to: (1) update balancing workload and maintaining store operations. the agency’s strategic plan to include goals that identify the We found that the Commissary Customer Satisfaction Survey methodology percentage of the store workforce is reasonable. However, some improvements in the analysis of survey data that is expected to be full- and could ensure that the findings are more complete and consistent. Such part-time, (2) reassess management changes could include adjusting survey results for the volume of sales at staffing for small stores, (3) adjust customer survey results on the individual stores or for the number of shoppers who refuse to fill out the basis of a store’s sales volume, questionnaire. Furthermore, the current survey does not collect information (4) collect data on customers who on the number of, and reasons why, potential customers do not shop at their refuse to fill out survey forms, and local commissaries. (5) examine potential survey methods to periodically determine how many potential customers do Planned Personnel Reductions by Organizational Level not shop at commissaries and the Reductions in full-time positions reasons why not. The Department Fiscal year 2000 of Defense agreed with four of our Organization baseline Planned Actual 12/31/02 five recommendations. It disagreed Headquartersa 911 187 116 with the recommendation to identify goals for the projected Regional offices 590 170 170 workforce mix. Stores 16,565 2,690 2,316 Total 18,066 3,047 2,602 www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-417 Source: DeCA. To view the full report, including the scope a Includes field operating activities. and methodology, click on the link above. For more information, contact Barry Holman at (202) 512-8412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contents Letter 1 Results in Brief 2 Background 3 Personnel Reductions Have Not Hampered Most Commissaries’ Store Operations or Customer Satisfaction 4 Customer Satisfaction Survey Methodology Is Reasonable, but Analysis Could Be Improved 10 Conclusions 11 Recommendations for Executive Action 12 Agency Comments and Our Evaluation 12 Scope and Methodology 13 Appendix I Commissary Customer Service Survey Questionnaire 16 Appendix II Comments from the Department of Defense 17 Tables Table 1: Planned Personnel Reductions by Organizational Level 5 Table 2: Planned Personnel Reductions at Store Level, by Method 6 Table 3: Range of Percentages of Part-time Positions Planned by Stores, by Region and by Store Band at the End of Fiscal Year 2003 8 Table 4: Customer Satisfaction Scores on Recent Surveys, for Product and Service Categories 9 This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. It may contain copyrighted graphics, images or other materials. Permission from the copyright holder may be necessary should you wish to reproduce copyrighted materials separately from GAO’s product. Page i GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure United States General Accounting Office Washington, DC 20548 March 6, 2003 Congressional Requesters In January 2001, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), which operates 276 stores in the United States and abroad for military personnel and retirees, issued a strategic plan that outlined initiatives to reduce its unit operating costs by 7 percent by fiscal year 2004. A major focus of the unit cost reduction objective was to reshape the workforce by reducing full-time positions and developing a more efficient organization. This plan called for the elimination of over 3,000 full-time positions—about 2,700 in stores through efficiencies, closures, and contracting out some functions and about 350 through efficiencies in the regional offices and headquarters.1 The agency expects these actions to save about $82 million without any loss of service to its customers.2 As a result of these savings, DeCA reduced its fiscal year 2003 budget request. In response to a requirement in the Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives’ report accompanying the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, we reviewed DeCA’s plan to reduce personnel.3 Our objectives were to assess (1) the status of personnel reductions and their effect on store operations and customer service, and (2) whether the agency uses a reasonable methodology to measure customer satisfaction. 1 The elimination is of full-time equivalent positions. 2 The reduction plan, which also includes savings through non-manpower reductions such as utility and transportation costs, is to reduce DeCA’s appropriation by a total of $137 million in fiscal year 2003 and reduce annual operating costs through the out years. 3 H. Rep. No. 107-436. Page 1 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure DeCA’s store operations and customer service have been maintained Results in Brief and in some cases improved despite the personnel reductions. As of December 31, 2002, DeCA had eliminated 2,602, or 85 percent, of the planned 3,047 full-time positions, mostly at the stores by implementing new staffing standards or eliminating vacant positions; very few of these employees have been separated from the agency by a reduction in force. We found that greater use of part-time employees, as a result of the reductions, has provided store directors with flexibility to meet workload fluctuations and enabled some stores to increase their operating hours to meet customer needs. However, DeCA’s strategic plan, which addresses its force downsizing and reshaping initiatives, does not include specific goals for achieving a certain full-time/part-time workforce mix in stores. As a result, the planned percentage of part-time positions varies widely by individual store and region. The November 2002 Commissary Customer Service Survey showed scores stayed the same or increased slightly compared to the past two surveys for overall high customer satisfaction, and for such key indicators as time waiting in line and convenient hours. However, managers of some small stores are having difficulty balancing their workloads as a result of the reductions in management positions. DeCA officials are aware of but have not yet identified a plan to address the small store management issue. DeCA’s Commissary Customer Service Survey methodology is a reasonable approach to collect customer feedback. It adheres to standard questionnaire design standards and seeks to survey shoppers in an unbiased manner. However, some improvements in the analysis of the survey data could be made to ensure that results are more precise and consistent. For example, the agency does not explicitly adjust survey results for actual store sales volumes or document the number of shoppers who refuse to complete the survey questionnaire. Because these factors are not considered, overall survey results could be distorted to some degree. Furthermore, the current survey does not collect information on the number of and reasons why, potential customers do not shop at a commissary. We are making recommendations to the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) to help DeCA achieve its strategic objective of reshaping the workforce as well as improve its customer satisfaction survey process. In comments on a draft of this report, the Department of Defense agreed with four of our five recommendations. It disagreed with our recommendation that the Under Secretary direct the Director, Defense Commissary Agency, to update its strategic plan to include goals that Page 2 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure identify the percent of store workforce that is expected to be full- and part-time. DeCA, headquartered at Fort Lee, Virginia, is the Department of Defense’s Background designated agency for managing commissaries on a worldwide basis. A Commissary Operating Board, which is comprised of representatives from each of the military services, has day-to-day operational oversight responsibilities for DeCA. The Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) exercises overall supervision of the commissary system. DeCA operates four regional offices that oversee the management of its commissaries. Commissaries are located in 46 states and 14 foreign countries. As of November 7, 2002, the agency had 276 stores and more than 16,000 employees under its purview. Its annual sales in fiscal year 2002 amounted to about $5 billion. In meeting its mission of providing groceries at a savings to the customer, in the most efficient and effective manner possible, DeCA strives to provide the lowest cost possible, charging patrons only for the cost of goods plus a 5-percent surcharge.4 DeCA receives about $1 billion in direct appropriations from Congress for its annual operating costs. These funds pay for employees’ salaries, transportation, some above-store-level information technology, and other expenses. DeCA also operates a resale stock fund for the purchase and sale of products. To the extent that savings in operating costs occur, they reduce the need for appropriated funds. The savings in store operating costs do not have an effect on the cost of merchandise sold to customers. In January 2001, DeCA issued its current strategic plan. This plan included objectives to reduce unit operating costs and reshape the workforce while maintaining or improving customer service and satisfaction. A major focus of the unit cost reduction objective was to reduce positions as well as streamline operations and develop a more efficient organization. To reshape the workforce, DeCA planned to determine the appropriate mix of skills and expertise and the appropriate level of part-time employees to carry out the reductions to reach a more efficient organization. 4 The funds generated by the surcharge are used to maintain and repair existing stores and construct new facilities. Page 3 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure DeCA conducts a biannual Commissary Customer Service Survey to assess customer views of products and services. 5 A team appointed by each store director administers the survey. Customers are systematically selected while waiting in checkout lines. A predetermined number of questionnaires are collected during three periods (morning, midday, and evening) each day for 10 consecutive days during May and November each year. The survey questions are multiple choice with space available for written comments. See appendix I for a copy of the questionnaire. The completed forms are mailed to DeCA headquarters for analysis, and customer service scores are calculated for DeCA overall and for each region and store. Despite the workforce reductions, store operations and customer service Personnel Reductions have been maintained at the same level, and in some cases improved. Have Not Hampered DeCA has used various measures to eliminate 2,602 full-time positions, or 85 percent of the planned reductions as of December 31, 2002; very few Most Commissaries’ employees have been separated from the agency. While downsizing and Store Operations or reshaping were occurring, regional officials stated that they encouraged store directors to use part-time positions to maintain store operations. Customer Satisfaction DeCA officials stated the use of part-time employees has enabled store directors to better manage workload fluctuations, expand hours of operation, and thereby improve customer service. However, because DeCA’s strategic plan does not include specific goals for achieving a certain full-time/part-time workforce mix in stores, the planned percentage of part-time positions varies widely by individual store and region. Despite personnel reductions, scores for the customer satisfaction surveys completed since DeCA began the personnel reductions show the same or slightly increasing levels of customer satisfaction with the stores. Notwithstanding the improvements, managers of small stores report having difficulty balancing store operations and duties, as a result of the reductions in the number of management positions.6 5 Prior to 2002, the survey was conducted once a year rather than twice annually. 6 DeCA categorizes its stores into six bands based on average monthly sales volume and days of operation. Small stores are those with average monthly sales of less than $1 million. Medium and large store categories have sales ranges from $1 million to $2 million and $2 million and higher, respectively. A few medium stores have sales less than $1 million. Page 4 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Savings Achieved Through DeCA is using workforce reductions as the primary means to achieve its Personnel Reductions goal of reducing operating costs by fiscal year 2004. As table 1 shows, DeCA plans to reduce its workforce by 3,047 full-time positions, a decrease of 17 percent from its fiscal year 2000 staff. Of these positions, the largest number (2,690) will come from reductions at the store level while 187 will come from headquarters and 170 from regional offices. Table 1: Planned Personnel Reductions by Organizational Level Reductions in full-time positions Fiscal year 2000 Organization baseline Planned Actual 12/31/02 a Headquarters 911 187 116 Regional offices 590 170 170 Stores 16,565 2,690 2,316 Total 18,066 3,047 2,602 Source: DeCA. a Includes field operating activities. As of December 31, 2002, DeCA had completed all of its workforce reductions at the regional offices and 62 percent of its planned headquarters’ reductions. It accomplished this by eliminating 137 vacant positions (114 in headquarters and 23 in the regional offices). It reduced its regional staff by another 147 positions through organizational changes and other efficiencies, including closing two area offices in one region. By the same date, DeCA had completed most of its planned workforce reductions at the store level, eliminating 2,316, or 86 percent of the 2,690 positions that it had targeted. As table 2 indicates, most of the planned store-level reductions (51 percent) are being achieved by implementing efficiency measures within stores. Efficiencies are being derived by implementing new staffing standards for each department within a store based on sales volume and other measures. The remaining reductions are accomplished by other methods, including eliminating vacant positions, closing stores, and contracting out some functions. Page 5 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Table 2: Planned Personnel Reductions at Store Level, by Method Method Number Percent Achieve efficiencies through new staffing standards 1,374 51 Eliminate vacant positions 812 30 Close stores 361 13 Contract out 143 5 a Total 2,690 99 Source: DeCA. a Percentages do not add to 100 due to rounding. A breakdown of completed and planned workforce reductions at the store level are as follows: • 1,113 positions were eliminated by implementing the new store staffing standards based on sales volume. The remaining 261 efficiency reductions are planned in fiscal year 2003. • 812 vacant positions were eliminated. A DeCA official stated that vacant positions existed because stores had historically been funded at only 90 percent of their required staffing. The elimination of these positions resulted in no personnel losses and produced no savings. • 304 positions were eliminated as a result of 15 store closings. Closings can stem from Base Realignment and Closure recommendations or Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) approval of DeCA’s recommendations from internal assessments. An additional 49 positions will be eliminated at two stores scheduled to close in fiscal year 2003.7 • 87 positions were eliminated by contracting out such store functions as receiving, handling, and stocking. An additional 30 positions at various stores will be eliminated in this way in fiscal year 2003. The remaining 26 planned reductions were canceled to provide positions for a new computer-aided ordering function. Although DeCA had eliminated most of the planned 2,690 positions from its stores by the end of 2002, only 122 store employees were separated from the agency by a reduction in force and an additional 341 employees retired. Other employees were reassigned or moved to lower graded positions through the reduction process. 7 Stores at Rhein Main and Bad Aibling, both in Germany, are scheduled to close. Page 6 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Stores Plan Greater As part of the effort to reshape the workforce, all stores have begun to, Reliance on Part-time or plan to, increase the use of part-time positions to manage workloads Positions but Lack Specific and meet the needs of customers. However, since DeCA’s strategic plan does not include specific goals for achieving a certain full-time/part-time Goals for Workforce Mix workforce mix in stores, the planned percentage of part-time positions varies widely by individual store and region. The available data shows that the number of part-time positions in stores has increased since the personnel reduction plan went into effect. For example, the number of part-time employees rose by 8 percent in stores in the Midwest region between April 2001 and October 2002. Store directors told us that using part-time employees improved their ability to manage fluctuations in store workloads more effectively. For example, a store director said that part-time employees were used during weekends and holidays to save money. Another store director pointed out that part-time employees are available to work if there is work to do in a department or cover a peak shopping period, but they can be sent home if the work is completed. In addition, some store directors told us that a greater use of part-time workers has allowed them to increase their store operating hours. We found that 30 stores have increased their hours of operation by relying more heavily on part-time employees. For example, one store with a part-time workforce of nearly 60 percent increased its operating hours by 6 hours a week. In addition, current individual store plans call for a growth in the number of part-time positions in stores as of the end of fiscal year 2003. The Eastern and Midwest regions estimate that about 56 percent of their store positions will be part-time, and the Western Pacific region estimates 46 percent of its store positions will be part-time. Table 3 shows the range in the percentage of part-time positions that stores within each sales band plan to employ. Page 7 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Table 3: Range of Percentages of Part-time Positions Planned by Stores, by Regiona b and by Store Band at the End of Fiscal Year 2003 Eastern Midwest Western Pacific Store band region region region 1 25-100 7-67 14-45 2 28-71 45-68 47-57 3 41-56 24-61 7-67 4 27-72 34-71 21-65 5 34-76 42-78 24-64 6 40-70 50-67 23-66 Average part-time positions in region 53 56 46 Source: DeCA. a The European Region was not included in the scope of work. b Stores are categorized into six bands according to their average monthly sales volume and days of operation. As table 3 shows, the planned percentage of part-time positions varies widely by individual store and region. For example, one Eastern region store expects to convert all of its store positions to part time while another store in the Western Pacific region plans to have only 7 percent of its workforce as part time. While some stores are close to the 75 to 80 percent industry average for part-time positions in commercial grocery stores, the overall regional average of part-time positions indicates that there are opportunities to achieve more efficiencies through greater use of part-time positions. Store directors have the flexibility of changing the mix of full-time and part-time positions in their stores. Some store directors told us they used part-time positions primarily to meet their budget goals. One store director said that part-time positions were created to meet the store’s budget and that there were no plans to increase part-time positions in the store once the needed reductions were made. However, nearly all of the store directors we interviewed said that they could operate their stores with more part-time positions rather than full-time positions. As indicated earlier, they recognized that part-time positions provide flexibility to manage workload fluctuations more effectively. A regional director said that agencywide goals for part-time workers need to be incorporated into the strategic plan to optimize agency efforts to reshape the workforce. Page 8 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Customer Satisfaction According to recent surveys, customer satisfaction with commissary Remains High Despite stores has shown a modest, but steady, improvement between Workforce Reductions October 2001 and November 2002, the period when personnel reductions were being made. These improvements were registered in the overall score, ranging from 4.33 to 4.39, as well as in specific products and service categories. Table 4 includes results for 6 of the 14 questions, as well as the overall score. a Table 4: Customer Satisfaction Scores on Recent Surveys, for Product and Service Categories October May November Category 2001 2002 2002 Produce quality/selection 4.22 4.26 4.27 Meat quality/selection 4.30 4.35 4.37 Checkout waiting time 4.34 4.39 4.39 Convenient hours 4.33 4.36 4.38 Courteous, friendly and helpful employees 4.64 4.64 4.66 Overall satisfaction 4.49 4.52 4.53 Overall score 4.33 4.38 4.39 Source: DeCA. Note: DeCA also collects data on bakery and deli operations, which are both operated by contractors. a Scores are based upon a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (very good). These scores reflect continuing satisfaction including those likely to be most immediately affected by changes in personnel levels such as checkout waiting time. Reductions in Management As part of the effort to reshape the workforce, many directors of small Positions at Small Stores Is stores (bands 1 and 2) told us they had to eliminate one managerial Causing Some Concerns position. Small stores that have less than $60,000 in average monthly sales were required to reduce the number of managers to one manager. Small stores with $60,000 to $500,000 in average monthly sales had to reduce their number to two managers. The managers of 15 of the 28 band 1 stores told us that they are having difficulties balancing store operations with their own managerial and administrative duties along with doing the work of absent employees. Some store directors said they typically Page 9 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure have to work more than 40 hours a week to perform all these duties.8 Eighty-seven percent of these 15 band 1 stores are open more than 40 hours a week. Because DeCA policy requires that a manager be present in the store when it is open for customers, when the second manager or an employee is absent, the on-duty manager has to carry his/her own workload and administrative functions, as well as the load of the absent manager or employee, typically working over the usual 40-hour work week. DeCA headquarters officials have recognized the concerns raised by managers in small stores and the need to balance their overall workload but have not yet developed a plan for doing so. Overall, DeCA’s customer satisfaction survey methodology is a Customer Satisfaction reasonable approach to obtain customer feedback. It adheres to standard Survey Methodology questionnaire design principles, and attempts to select shoppers in an unbiased fashion. However, some improvements in the analysis of survey Is Reasonable, but data could be made to provide more precise and complete customer Analysis Could information. For example, it could adjust survey results for actual sales volumes, or report and possibly adjust for shoppers who refuse to Be Improved complete the survey questionnaire. Because these factors are not considered, overall survey results could be distorted to some degree. Furthermore, the current survey does not collect information on the number of service members who do not shop at a commissary and reasons why they do not. Weighting Survey DeCA’s current methodology appropriately attempts to obtain more survey Responses by responses from stores with higher sales volumes than stores with smaller Current Sales Volume sales volumes. DeCA places commissaries into three groups according to sales volume. They do this so that survey responses of customers in Categories May Give greater sales volume stores receive more emphasis than those in lower Incomplete Results volume stores. For example, stores in the largest sales volume group are required to collect 150 responses, stores in the next largest sales group collect 100 responses, and those in the lowest sales volume group collect 50 responses. However, sales volume can vary significantly among the stores in the same group as well as between groups. A more precise methodology would entail weighting survey responses by the relative sales volume of individual stores. This approach could help DeCA avoid 8 The management staffing standards show store management structure based on sales volume. Managers of small stores typically manage from 3 to 40 employees. Page 10 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure potential over- or underreporting of survey results, and evaluate changes in survey results that may be impacted by changes in sales volume. Number of DeCA does not document the number of customers who refuse to Non-respondents Needs participate in the customer satisfaction survey. DeCA officials told us to Be Recorded that most customers selected to participate in the survey willingly respond, but they acknowledge that documenting the number of non-respondents would enhance survey reporting. Survey literature indicates that even nominally low levels of non-responses can influence the interpretation of survey results. There may be a particular sub-group of customers that does not respond to the questionnaire and that would not be reflected in DeCA results. By not adjusting for non-response, DeCA is assuming that respondents have similar satisfaction scores as non-respondents. Also, by collecting data on non-respondents, the agency may be able to determine if the results omit customer subgroups whose opinions may be important. For example, some dependents of service personnel may not feel comfortable participating in the survey because of language barriers. Assessing Why Eligible DeCA does not conduct systematic assessments of the number and types Shoppers Do Not Shop of personnel who do not shop at commissaries. The customer satisfaction at Commissaries survey is conducted in the stores, and thus reflects the views of those who shop at the commissaries. They do not capture the views of those who do not shop there. Although DeCA’s strategic plan addresses the need to attract more military personnel to use the commissary, DeCA officials do not know to what extent eligible customers are not shopping at a commissary and the reasons why not. Realignment of the workforce, through greater use of part-time employees, Conclusions has enabled many stores to increase their operating hours and maintain or improve customer service. However, DeCA’s strategic plan does not include specific goals for the full-time/part-time workforce mix. As a result, the extent of part-time employees varied among the stores and is significantly less than current industry practice. Opportunities to achieve even more efficiencies may exist through greater use of part-time positions. In addition, small store directors have concerns about balancing their workload and maintaining store operations. Although DeCA’s customer satisfaction survey questionnaire is reasonable, survey results could be subject to some under- or over- stated because the current methodology does not explicitly weight stores’ results by sales volume and Page 11 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure does not collect data on non-responding customers. Finally, DeCA does not know how many eligible service members do not shop at a commissary and the reasons they do not. We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Recommendations for Readiness), in consultation with the Chairman, Commissary Operating Executive Action Board, require the Director, Defense Commissary Agency, to • update the strategic plan to include goals that identify the percent of the store workforce that is expected to be full- and part-time to achieve further efficiencies from reshaping the workforce; • reassess the management reductions at small stores to ensure managers can balance their workload and maintain store operations; • adjust the customer survey results on the basis of sales volume and customer expenditure data; • document the number of survey non-respondents and their reasons for not completing the questionnaire; and • examine potential methods and analyses to periodically determine how many and why eligible personnel do not shop at commissaries, to identify ways to improve service and increase the number of potential customers using the commissary benefit. In commenting on a draft of this report, the Under Secretary of Agency Comments Defense (Personnel and Readiness) concurred with four of our five and Our Evaluation recommendations and outlined actions to be taken to address the four recommendations the department concurred with. He disagreed with our recommendation that the Defense Commissary Agency update its strategic plan to include goals that identify the percent of the store workforce that is expected to be full- and part-time, expressing the view that staff in Washington should not prescribe the full-part-time mix for stores. The intent of our recommendation was not for the Under Secretary to prescribe the workforce mix for stores but rather have the Defense Commissary Agency include agencywide goals on the projected workforce mix in its strategic plan to help achieve the goal of reshaping the workforce. Rather than being arbitrary or prescriptive, such goals, if based on considered research or best practices, could provide an important term of reference to guide staffing decisions at the local level to optimize organizational performance and cost effectiveness. We continue to believe the recommendation is an appropriate one for the Defense Commissary Agency to implement. The department’s comments are reprinted in appendix II. Page 12 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure We performed our work at DeCA headquarters located at Fort Lee, Scope and Virginia, and DeCA’s three regional offices in the continental United States Methodology (the Eastern Regional Office in Virginia Beach, Virginia; the Midwest Regional Office in San Antonio, Texas; and the Western Pacific Regional Office in Sacramento, California). Due to travel costs and time constraints, we did not do any work at the European Regional Office in Germany; however, the total number of reductions shown for DeCA does include positions in the European Region. To determine the status of DeCA’s personnel reduction plan, we obtained data from DeCA headquarters and each regional office on the number of reductions planned by region by store as well as made as of December 31, 2002. We also analyzed reduction-in-force data to determine the actual or estimated impact on store employees. We also reviewed DeCA’s strategic plan to document DeCA’s plans for reducing unit operating costs and reshaping the workforce. We did not validate the cost savings reported by DeCA. To determine how store operations and customer service have been affected by the personnel reductions, we interviewed officials at DeCA headquarters and the three regional offices in the United States. We also interviewed store directors at eight stores that were near the Eastern and Midwest regional offices. In addition, we also conducted telephone interviews with either the store directors or managers for 38 band 1 and 2 stores in the continental United States (defined as having average monthly sales volume of less than $1 million), resulting in interviews of all 41 band 1 and 2 stores in the continental United States. We also determined the planned use of part-time positions by each store in the three regional offices visited. Finally, we also reviewed and discussed the Commissary Customer Service Survey results for the surveys conducted in October 2001 and May and November 2002, to identify changes in the satisfaction scores as the personnel reductions were being implemented. To determine if the DeCA customer satisfaction survey methodology is reasonable, we reviewed DeCA’s questionnaire and methodology and contrasted these to standard questionnaire design and statistical sampling procedures used in industry and government research. We also interviewed DeCA officials responsible for administering the survey regarding their analysis of survey results. We also observed the survey being conducted at the Fort Myer store in Virginia in November 2003. Page 13 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure We conducted our review from July 2002 through January 2003 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Defense; the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness); the Chairman, Commissary Operating Board; Director, Defense Commissary Agency; and the Director, Office of Management and Budget. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on GAO’s Web site at www.gao.gov and to others upon request. Please contact me at (202) 512-8412 if you or your staff have any questions concerning this report. Major contributors to this report were Michael Kennedy, Leslie Gregor, Betsy Morris, Curtis Groves, and Nancy Benco. Barry W. Holman Director, Defense Capabilities and Management Page 14 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure List of Congressional Committees The Honorable John Warner Chairman The Honorable Carl Levin Ranking Minority Member Committee on Armed Services United States Senate The Honorable Ted Stevens Chairman The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye Ranking Minority Member Subcommittee on Defense Committee on Appropriations United States Senate The Honorable Duncan Hunter Chairman The Honorable Ike Skelton Ranking Minority Member Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives The Honorable Jerry Lewis Chairman The Honorable John P. Murtha Ranking Minority Member Subcommittee on Defense Committee on Appropriations House of Representatives Page 15 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Appendix I: Commissary Customer Service Appendix I: Commissary Customer Service Survey Questionnaire Survey Questionnaire Page 16 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Appendix II: Comments from the Department Appendix II: Comments from the of Defense Department of Defense Page 17 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense Page 18 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense (350243) Page 19 GAO-03-417 Defense Infrastructure The General Accounting Office, the audit, evaluation and investigative arm of GAO’s Mission Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the American people. 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Defense Infrastructure: Personnel Reductions Have Not Hampered Most Commissaries' Store Operations and Customer Service
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-03-06.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)