Burns selected SES, named executive director of Sales, Marketing, Logistics Group
FORT LEE, Va. – Christopher “Chris” T. Burns, the Defense Commissary Agency’s chief of staff, has been appointed to the Senior Executive Service and named executive director of the agency’s Marketing, Sales and Logistics Group. The announcement, effective Nov. 24, came today from Rear Adm. (retired) Robert J. Bianchi, DOD special assistant for commissary operations.
Burns fills a position left vacant March 3 when Rogers E. Campbell, former executive director of the then DeCA’s Sales, Marketing and Policy Group, became executive director of DeCA’s Store Operations Group.
“In a previous assignment as the provisional director of DeCA’s business transformation, Chris helped this agency navigate through one of the most extensive transitions since its creation,” Bianchi said. “Going forward, his leadership and experience will be a force multiplier as we continue to provide a vital commissary benefit to our patrons.”
In his new position, Burns oversees the sales, marketing and logistics directorates with missions that directly impact the agency’s annual sales of nearly $5 billion.
Before his SES position, Burns had served as headquarters chief of staff since June. He managed the daily operations and interrelations of the DeCA headquarters staff, serving as the principal business management advisor to the agency’s chief operating officer and the director.
Burns entered federal service in 1984, as an intern with the Army commissary system while attending college. He subsequently served in a variety of assignments within the commissary system, including several as a store director along with many other leadership positions at region, headquarters levels and an assignment in the Defense Department.
In 2006, he served as director of operations for DeCA East, then headquartered at Fort Lee, Virginia. There, he managed tasks focused on store-level support and improvement for the 99 commissaries within that region. In 2007, Burns served as deputy director for DeCA West, headquartered in McClellan, California, where he was responsible for operational oversight of 68 commissaries in 15 states, with annual sales that exceeded $1.7 billion.
Burns later served as DeCA’s sales director from 2010 to 2013, responsible for nearly $6 billion in annual agency sales. In this position he oversaw the agency’s comprehensive category management process, item file maintenance and implemented the marketing business unit’s extensive marketing and merchandising programs.
From January to July 2013, Burns was the team leader and senior advisor to the DeCA
director for the DoD Resource Management Directive, a DOD-directed mission to gather and analyze various ideas, initiatives and concepts as part of the Department’s study to reduce commissary funding while ensuring continued relevance of the commissary benefit.
Burns served as the chief performance officer from August 2013 to January 2016, responsible for three subordinate divisions: corporate communications, strategic planning and the executive services.
From January 2016 to June 2019, he was selected as the provisional executive director of business transformation. In this position he was responsible for planning, evaluating and implementing business efficiencies that led to changes in DeCA’s business model, which included an improved market basket savings method, introduction of private label and variable pricing, and category performance improvement.
“Commissaries have been around for more than 150 years,” Burns said. “Ultimately, we all are the caretakers of this benefit, charged with sustaining it by optimizing our assortment, enhancing the savings and providing the best shopping experience possible for our patrons. I am very excited about the opportunity to continue helping to sustain and improve the benefit going forward.”
Burns earned a Bachelor of Science in food distribution management in 1986 from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, and a Master of Science in administration from Central Michigan University (2007), Mount Pleasant, Michigan. He is also a 2009 graduate of the Leadership for a Democratic Society graduate class from the Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, Virginia.
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.