In its desire for efficiency, Congress has aligned its committee structure with the programs and agencies operating in the executive branch. The programs that operate in the arena of military resale and morale, welfare and recreation fall under the military personnel committees of the congress; specifically, the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee on Personnel.
Each year, hearings are held where “beneficiary groups” like the ALA are given the opportunity to testify before the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House. The testimony is traditionally delivered by the Chair of the association. This opportunity to testify culminates a years worth of behind the scenes ground work laid by the association’s government relations professionals. The testimony is submitted in two forms with a detailed written statement accompanied by a brief oral statement.
In addition to the important committees mentioned above, there is the important task of getting programs authorized and funds appropriated to operate. This important work is done by other committees but the activity that sponsors our requests is usually the one with direct oversight.
It is important to understand the chain of command when dealing with government organizations. At times it can get a little confusing. All military resale organizations and the morale, welfare and recreation activities fall under the executive branch of government. The three main agencies in the picture are the Defense Department (Commissaries, most Exchanges and most MWR); the Veterans Administration (Veterans Canteen Service); and the Department of Homeland Security (Coast Guard Exchanges and MWR). Some are principally funded by taxpayer dollars (Commissaries) and are referred to as appropriated fund activities and others are primarily self-funded and called non-appropriated fund (NAF) activities.
The commissary program is managed by a Defense Agency through an operating board answering to the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD P&R).
The exchange and MWR programs report to their respective Services and ultimately through their Service Secretaries.
The overarching policy for the management of these activities is established by the President and administered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The policy focal point for resale and non-appropriated fund activities resides in the office of the Director of resale and NAF policy in the office of the USD P&R.