Independent auditors give commissary agency unmodified opinion on fiscal year 22 finances

  • Published
  • By Kevin L. Robinson
  • Defense Commissary Agency Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va. – Finances matter for the Defense Commissary Agency as it delivers significant savings to eligible patrons. That’s why it’s significant that the agency’s financial statements for fiscal year 2022 received an unmodified opinion from independent auditors.

“DeCA’s ability to manage its financial statements reinforces the Department of Defense’s decision to promote commissaries as part of its Taking Care of Service Members and Families initiative,” said Bill Moore, DeCA’s director and CEO. “When the DoD invested in the commissary benefit as a key component to help boost the force’s food security, it spoke to the importance of this benefit to the military community. The ability to manage our finances also demonstrates to the DoD, our customers and taxpayers that we are effective and transparent caretakers of this vital benefit, which improves military family quality of life.”

The following is a snapshot of DeCA’s financial highlights for fiscal year 2022:

  • DeCA achieved 23 percent patron savings, an increase of 0.5% from fiscal year 2021.
  • Commissaries generated more than $4.2 billion in annual sales and $4.4 billion in total revenue.
  • DeCA generated over $136 million in its private label or Commissary Store Brands sales, a 30.44% increase from fiscal year 2021.
  • DeCA generated $220 million in surcharge revenue.
  • DeCA received $3 million from cardboard recycling.
  • The agency also processed 64.5 million transactions in its stores.

The agency’s unmodified opinion means a third-party examination found no substantial discrepancies in the agency’s finances.

“It’s an accomplishment all commissary employees worldwide played a part in,” said Cynthia Morgan, the agency’s chief financial officer. “Our ability to balance our finances reflects on how we deliver the commissary benefit. From certifying time and attendance to accounting for products in our store and warehouses to managing sales transactions at the front end, we must be accountable and auditable – that’s the message our leadership emphasizes.”

The independent auditor, CliftonLarsonAllen looks at about 500 actions that demonstrate the integrity of DeCA’s internal financial processes and controls and its interactions with external partners, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency.

“CLA conducted portions of its audit of DeCA virtually to adhere to COVID-19-related restrictions,” said Rosie Leonard-Greer, accounting director in the resource management directorate. “Financial audits provide an independent assessment of whether the entities’ financial information is presented fairly. The auditors are responsible for obtaining sufficient, appropriate evidence to support their opinion. Key aspects are the entity having mature process and controls, maintaining well-organized and detailed records and complying with accounting standards.”

DeCA joined six other defense agencies in receiving an unmodified opinion: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works, the Military Retirement Fund, the Defense Contracting Audit Agency, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Working Capital Fund, the National Reconnaissance Office and the Defense Health Agency Contract Resource Management.

As with all defense agencies, DeCA is included in the DoD Consolidated Financial Statement Audit. This means the commissary agency’s financial wellbeing feeds into the DoD’s process, and subsequently DeCA works with the DoD to provide requested data to meet the department’s own audit suspense dates.

The clock starts ticking on DeCA’s official audit when CLA auditors pour over the agency’s financial statements and all related internal controls and transactions at commissaries and the agency headquarters at Fort Lee, Va.

“The mindset for the agency is that, whether the organization is being audited or not, employees need to operate as if every action is under scrutiny, Leonard-Greer said. “No matter what function an employee performs within the agency there are financial implications, direct or indirect that will ultimately impact DeCA’s budget and ability to accurately reflect our financial posture. While, at first glance, it may not seem like it, all DeCA employees play a critical role in maintaining our unmodified opinion. It takes constant vigilance on the part of every DeCA employee to ensure that the duties they perform are timely, accurate and in accordance with all policies and regulations.”

CLA auditors test and evaluate the following key areas:

  • Ordering and accounting for resale products.
  • Processing customer transactions at the stores.
  • Accounting for property, plant and equipment.
  • Properly certifying time and attendance.
  • Complying with laws and regulations.
  • Funds balance with treasury, payroll, property, revenue/accounts, receivable/non-exchange revenue, appropriations and budgetary accounts.
  • The financial reporting and compilation process.
  • Information technology, especially those areas of the agency’s ongoing deployment of its Enterprise Business System that impact inventory and pricing.

“In the past 22 years, DeCA has achieved an unmodified opinion 21 times through independent auditing. The agency’s unmodified opinion is a testament that all financial matters connected with the delivery of the commissary benefit are accurate, compliant and transparent,” said Robert B. Strimple, chief of the agency’s compliance and reporting. “DeCA’s ability to sustain an unmodified opinion demonstrates the agency’s commitment and passion to serve our military community. It is truly an honor and a privilege to carry out DeCA’s mission and to be able to show that we do so under great scrutiny.”

From troop rations to commissary shelves, cereal proven popular breakfast option for military

The United States has been producing ready-made cereals for over 130 years. As cereals gained popularity in commercial grocery stores, they also proved to be a beloved breakfast option for the military in troop rations and on commissary shelves.

“There are so many different kinds of cereals for service members and their families to choose from at their local commissary: dry cold cereal or hot cereals, either instant or cooked,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, senior enlisted advisor to the Defense Commissary Agency director. “When you’re in the field, you appreciate those special treats in your rations, and cereals have always been that bonus for us. Back in garrison, we want service members and their families to know that if they’re not buying their cereal at their commissary, they’re missing out on overall savings of at least 25% compared to prices at ‘outside the gate’ grocery stores--that means savings of at least $50 on a $200 grocery bill!”

So, what’s the story behind cereal and the U.S. military? During the American Civil War, 1861-1865, Schumacher’s Oats were a mainstay for the troops. More than 50 years later during World War I, little had changed as oatmeal and cream of wheat remained popular.

During World War II, some government nutritionists teamed up with several American cereal companies and began adding dry cereal to the B Unit ration kits of soldiers. Of course, these rations didn’t contain the sugar sparkles or prizes found in many popular children’s cereals. However, they did have a mixture of oats, rice and wheat cereal in a small brown package.

By the Vietnam War, the military B-4 ration can also had dry cereal. Today, military MREs also contain dry cereal, and the dining facilities serve individual-sized cereals on their breakfast line.

For the nutritiously conscious, certain breakfast cereals can be an important source of energy, carbohydrates, protein and fiber as well as vitamins E, B, magnesium and zinc, and many contain little to no sugar and are very high in fiber.

And if it’s about making nutritious choices and saving money on cereal, Saucedo encourages service members and their families to shop their commissary.

“If you purchase the right kind of cereal, it can be a good way to start your day,” Saucedo said. “And, if you bought that cereal at your local commissary, you’ve purchased a popular breakfast treat at the best possible savings.”