GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — This year, the U.S. Army has assigned volunteers to determine the Cost of Living Allowance adjustments in Germany.
The adjustments will be based on the Retail Price Schedule, also known as a Market Basket Survey.
U.S. Army Europe recruited Soldiers from units throughout Germany and coordinated volunteer support through local housing offices and Army Community Service offices to assist with the price collection requirement. These individuals will go to local stores on the German economy and price approximately 120 items between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15.
The list of items captured in the annual Retail Price Schedule includes a variety of meat and dairy products, fresh and frozen produce, beverages, cooking ingredients, bread, crackers, cereal, pasta, candy and other groceries. It also includes a variety of clothing items, personal care items (to include haircuts and dry cleaning services), alcohol and tobacco items, pet food, household furnishings and supplies, cleaning supplies, diapers, phone and internet services, basic medicine and vitamin supplies, entertainment items and services (books, movies, electronics, toys, fitness items & gym memberships, movie theater), a variety of public transportation, items and services for personally owned vehicles (to include insurance), and childcare and household help.
Once the prices of 120 different goods and services are collected, the Office of Under Secretary of Defense, Directorate of Military Compensation Policy compares the prices in Germany to those in the U.S. to compute the Cost of Living Index. Additional factors considered include the euro rate for the year and cost of living in the U.S.
The actual COLA adjustments based on the RPS results will go into effect in early 2020 once the Military Advisory Panel reviews and approves them.
COLA is payable to all service members and their command-sponsored family members assigned to one of Germany’s 11 locations: Ansbach, Garmisch, Geilenkirchen, Hohenfels, Kalkar, Kaiserslautern, Pfullendorf, Spangdahlem, Stuttgart, Vilseck/Grafenwoehr and Wiesbaden.
All locality coordinators for this year’s RPS were trained in September and are ready to pursue this process. The USAG Bavaria community is maxed out on volunteers for this years price collection. The local volunteer teams are trained by the locality coordinators.
The RPS is conducted annually. The Living Pattern Survey — which captures input from all service members and their families on where and how they purchase goods and services — is conducted every three years. The last LPS for USAG Bavaria was conducted in 2018.
For more information on how Overseas COLA is calculated, view the fact sheet at https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Docs/Fact_Sheet_COLA.pdf.