Soldiers and civilians grab a meal at a dining facility at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Army officials said Tuesday they're looking to issue dining cards that could be used at its installations and at local restaurants. (Ingrid Barrentine / Army)
WASHINGTON — The Army is looking at issuing dining cards that could be used at its installations and at local restaurants, Army officials said Tuesday.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations energy and Environment, said the service is looking at all of its options when it comes to expanding its privatization efforts. She and other Army officials made the announcement at the annual Association of the United States Army convention in Washington.
She said dining cards that soldiers could use at facilities on base or within the community will give them more choices while keeping costs down by allowing the Army to charge DoD civilians or contractors to use the dining facilities on base when before they were unable to.
“It’s about giving them choice and giving them responsibility,” she said.
She said the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 gives the Army and the Defense Department broad latitude to privatize services that are not inherently governmental.
The Army already works with the private sector on utilities, energy generation, privatized housing and education, she said.
Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, the assistant chief of staff for installation management and the commander of the Installation Management Command at the Army, said that its privatization of housing and utilities was a success and the Army is looking to expand privatization efforts further.
“We will partner with anyone who can cut costs,” he said.
Ferriter said the Army had a “big list” of areas it was looking to privatize but suggested the Army will look into in-home childcare in the local community.
He added the Army will test various business models to make sure they work financially before rolling out a new effort across all its installations.
Herman Bulls, the international director and chairman of the public institution division at international real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, said privatized services could include base operations support, information technology, security, finance and accounting, recreation, medical and library services.
He said the Army needs to work out a business case that saves money while attracting private investment before it can begin privatizing more services.