Selling to the Defense Commissary Agency

By Beth White, Iowa PTAC

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) – the “Other Defense Agency”

Did you know that there is a “littler known” agency within the Department of Defense that provides food and other household products for military families, with the major mission to improve their quality of life?

This agency is the Defense Commissary Agency, and another interesting point is that they buy a lot more than food and beverages for families. The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), is considered an “Other Defense Agency”, and manages a worldwide chain of stores that provides groceries and supplies to families (military, retirees and other authorized patrons) at cost (plus a small surcharge fee).

But you don’t sell food products?? Remember I said they bought many other items/services, to include but not limited to:

  • Services: Shelf Stocking, Custodial, Receiving/Stocking management, Armored Car, Inventory, Linen/Laundry, Pest Control, Trash Removal
  • Supplies: Packaging products, paper bags, plastic bags, labels
  • Construction/A/E Services: Design, New construction, Renovations, Remodeling
  • Food/Resale Items: This category includes the food products, non-alcoholic beverages, pet foods, detergent, health/beauty products etc.
  • IT/Software
  • Equipment: Copiers, Balers, Pallet Jacks, Safes etc.

How do they buy supplies/services?

  • As a Federal agency, they are bound to the competition requirements of the FAR, and all procurements valued over $25,000.00 are posted to  Click here to see some of the current requirements.
    o With this there will be opportunities for limited/flexible competition if not required to be on FBO. Marketing will help build awareness of those opportunities (see below).
  • Food/Resale items are purchased under slightly different rules known as the Grocery Items Special Rule in 10 United States Code 2486.
    o Name brand items with a UPC that have been sold in supermarkets/commercially, will be purchased on a non-competitive basis and from the manufacturer or an authorized representative.
    o Other than Brand name consumable or household items such as meats, vegetables, firewood etc. will be competed on a competitive, best value basis always on
  • You can read more at the Business Guide for DeCA.

How do you market DeCA to determine if your product/service can/will be purchased?

  • If you are selling brand name products for resale (above), there are some very specific things the agency will ask of vendors (see all on page 9 of the business guide), but some include knowing your distribution/stocking methods, pricing structure, providing samples for evaluation, similarities/differences to other products that are being sold.
  • Contact the small business office, and make initial/follow up contact to market, develop relationships and build visibilities to increase potential opportunities with the agency. The small business office is located at
    o Ensure you have done more research on the agency, the locations within your geographic area
    o Research past, current and future opportunities for the supplies/services you sell. DeCA provides information on previous pricing and awarded contracts (click here).

So what do they have going on in the future?

For more information on how DeCA may be a good target customer for your company, or any other Government Contracting related questions, contact your local PTAC’s Procurement Specialists today!


More about Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)

Ninety-eight PTACs – with over 300 local offices – form a nationwide network of procurement professionals dedicated procurement professionals working to help local businesses compete successfully in the government marketplace. Funded under the Defense Logistics Agency’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program through cooperative agreements with state and local governments and non-profit organizations, PTACs are the bridge between buyer and supplier, bringing to bear their knowledge of both government contracting and the capabilities of contractors to maximize fast, reliable service to our government with better quality and at lower costs.

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 Beth White Headshot

Beth White has been a Government Contracting Specialist for the Iowa PTAC at Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) since the beginning of 2011.  Prior to that, she worked for over a dozen years as a Contracting Officer/Small Business Specialist at the Rock Island Arsenal – Army Contracting Command.

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