Penny-Less in Europe644, 1/1/1999
By J. Claud Wallace
PENNY-LESS: Then one day the bad news mailbag told us that the Command, especially the PX was out of pennies. To coin a phrase, "they were penniless." (I believe that then-Captain Sharon Volgi-now Colonel-was the bearer of these "glad tidings" and, quite appropriately, she became the action officer on the new project for getting the penniless problem solved. We always worked projects as a staff and I, as the F&AO, was even able to contribute once in a while. I tried to make my input of the nature that would stretch the imagination of the staff and add a dimension to the project.
The staff solution to the penniless problem was to plead with everyone in the command to empty their piggy banks, fruit jars, and pockets to get the pennies back into circulation. I thought that my contribution was a classic. I simply approved the staff recommendation then asked a rather simple question…"Why do we need the penny, anyway, if it is to be a continuing problem and expense?"
After some discussion we decided that the penny was not needed. At that then-Captain Volgi was the proud owner of a new project, titled, "Get Rid of the Penny." The solution turned out to be rather simple with three steps.
- Stop bringing pennies into the command.
- Train cashiers and clerks to round to the nearest nickel. (For some reason, which escapes me now, we rounded every transaction for travel vouchers), and,
- Retrograde the pennies that we collected from circulation. (We thought that this step would be pretty expensive but the quick thinking of COL John Bain in the Central finance and Accounting Office found a way to ship the pennies back to New York as ballast in a U.S. Coast Guard ship that was making the voyage to the U.S. I believe that over $110,000 in pennies was retrograded this way.)
We were able to eliminate the penny in Europe with a considerable saving to the Army - and to the best of my knowledge the Army is still "penniless" in that command. I guess that the main point in this story is that - while everyone complains about the high cost of doing business - it is only permissible to making savings in the area of responsibility of someone else.