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U.S. Army & DFAS: cooperate to expand managerial accounting capabilities.

Watch this new kid on the block: AMAD has become a significant resource for strengthening budget execution and leveraging the Army's buying power. And that's just for starters....

Over the past year, Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) has significantly improved its capability to perform managerial accounting is support of Army Staff and Major Command (MACOM) decision makers. This has been possible, in large measure, through an innovative joint venture between the Army and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Indianapolis (DFAS-IN).

The new venture, announced on June 14, 2004, by the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller), resulted in the establishment of the Army Managerial Accounting Division (AMAD) within Accounting Services-Army, DFAS-IN. The AMAD supports both the Director for Army Budget and the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Operations) (DASA (FO)). AMAD receives its taskings and directions from the DASA(FO) and the Army Budget Office (ABO). This joint venture is an excellent example of component partnering in support of DoD's Financial Management Transformation Plan and, of working harmoniously to take financial operations to a higher level.

The DFAS was created in January 1991 to reduce the cost of the Department of Defense (DoD) finance and accounting operations and to strengthen its financial management through the consolidation of finance and accounting activities. The DFAS has been in a state of transformation since its inception and continues to seek new ways to perform financial activities while honoring its strategic mission to "Provide responsive, professional finance and accounting services for the people who defend America and its strategic vision to provide "Best Value to Our Customer."

Managerial accounting, one of the many functions that remained with the MACOM Directorates of Resource Management (DRMs) after consolidation, is a means to improve combat capabilities through fiscal readiness. The AMAD, a division within the Directorate for Field Accounting, Accounting Services, Army, Accounting Business Line (ABL), began operations on July 1, 2004.

The Concept of Operations for the division identified three teams comprising a mix of highly skilled accounting personnel with a broad range of financial management expertise. The teams include early career and journeymen personnel whose synergy, creativity, and innovative approaches are a vital part of the division's ability to meet customer expectations and accomplish its mission. That mission is to assist the Army in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its budget execution, maximize buying power, and mitigate unfinanced requirements.

More specifically, the Army seeks better utilization of funding received to fight the Global War on Terrorism, to harvest unliquidated obligations (ULOs) and unobligated prior-year balances to pay debts, and to obtain more timely and accurate accounting information. The ultimate goal for both Army and DFAS is to improve budget execution through current, timely, and accurate analysis of accounting records, which in turn will enhance the quality of financial management decisions.

The principal services that AMAD provides to DASA(FO) and ABO are financial analysis of budget execution, identification of abnormal balances and transactions at the cost center and fund entity levels, and verification of the integrity and accuracy of accounting reports and financial statements. The primary tools used to perform these services are the Operational Data Store (ODS) and the Army Shared Knowledge-Financial Management (ASK-FM), both of which are described later in this article. Using these tools, AMAD personnel perform in-depth data mining to identify potential sources of funds to support the Army's requirements. The AMAD transmits the results of its analyses (for example, ULOs and/or unobligated balances) to HQDA, and respective MACOM offices and DFAS Field Sites-ABL receive information pertinent to their operations. The Army uses the analyses provided to determine the actual availability of funds.

ODS and ASK-FM

The ODS is an Oracle-based system operating on a UNIX operating system. It directs data between various automated systems and stores financial transactions for query and report creation. In addition, the ODS provides the source data for the ASK-FM.

The ODS, which has controlled access and requires a USERID (user identification) and password to gain entry into the system and run queries, interfaces with various systems, including entitlement systems, disbursing systems, accounting systems, logistics systems, and pay systems. It receives files from Standard Army Finance System (STANFINS), Standard Operations and Maintenance Army Research and Development System (SOMARDS), Corps of Engineers Financial Management System (CEFMS), and Defense Joint Accounting System (DJAS).

These files, which are stored as tables in ODS, include both summary data as well as transaction detail lines. In addition, the ODS stores accounting transactions from Program Budget Accounting System (PBAS), and files from the Headquarters Accounting and Reporting System (HQARS). Figure 1 shows an example of a system query screen.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

The AMAD accesses the ODS tables using Cognos Impromptu software. Cognos enables the creation within ODS of customized queries to retrieve various data from any of the tables, The AMAD then uses other tools to analyze and create reports, based on data retrieved from ODS (Figure 2). Currently, the AMAD uses Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel as its primary tools, but is looking at other tools to make this work more timely and efficient.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

The ASK-FM Digital Dashboard is a Web-enabled, thin client application using Business Objects software. Use of Web-enabling eliminates the need to install software on an individual's personal computer.

ASK-FM offers current, accurate, and timely Army financial information for senior executives and managers of the Army. It uses a series of gauges and reports to report the status of appropriations on special interest items. ASK-FM also includes drill-down capability to identify transactions at the detail level.

In addition, ASK-FM can be used to produce customized gauges and reports for MACOM-level customers as well as installation-level customers. Customers are able to create their own gauges, charts, and reports for their personal dashboard, such as those shown in Figure 3.

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

ASK-FM currently contains data from STANFINS, SOMARDS, CEFMS, DJAS, and PBAS. In the future, ASK-FM will include data from DEFINE ACRONUM (HQARS).

To date, the AMAD has had many successes, highlighted in the accompanying sidebar.

And That's Just the Beginning...

The AMAD has been very busy during its first year of operation. In such a short period of time, the AMAD has proven to be a significant resource for strengthening budget execution and leveraging the Army's buying power. Future AMAD projects include creating ASKFM reports and canned queries for customer use; performing trend analysis of reimbursable programs, execution reports, and obligation adjustment and recoveries at the MACOM level; and monitoring fourth and fifth closing-year appropriations to mitigate potential use of future funding to liquidate obligations.

AMAD personnel are proud of their role in the new organization and are eager to continue building on its foundation. The AMAD, with support from DFAS-IN, will continue to strive for mission success and provide the bottom-line best value to the customer through the identification of better processes to achieve efficiencies and reduce the cost of operations.

Army Managerial Accounting Division Accomplishments

Identifying outstanding Basic Symbol 2020, fiscal year (FY) 2002 ULOs potentially available for other usage

* $73 million without disbursement or obligation activity since September 30, 2002

* $218 million with disbursement and obligation activity after September 30, 2002

Completing an analysis that facilitated the movement of $33 million in open allotment disbursements from the Defense Emergency Relief Fund to the appropriate Operation and Maintenance, Army, and Military Personnel, Army appropriations

Completing an analysis that facilitated $51.7 million in DERF accounting adjustments

Identifying $1.1 million in outstanding prior-year travel advances for potential accounting corrections or recovery

* Completing monthly analyses

* Detail and trend narrative analyses for problem disbursements

* In-depth analysis of DFAS-IN disbursements to include a macro analysis of intransits, showing the total disbursements made by Indianapolis for the current fiscal year

Completing account receivable analyses

* Trend analysis of receivables for the past year by quarter

* In-depth analysis focusing on third quarter, FY 2004 intra-governmental receivables and the comparison of receivables by reimbursement source codes

* Completing an analysis of prior-year unobligated balances for FY 2004 that identified unobligated balances at Operating Agency and Fiscal Station Number levels and undistributed funding at Operating Agency or Army level

Carrie Otto is currently a supervisory accountant for Defense Agency Accounting in Indianapolis. She has worked in Departmental Accounting, Accounting Systems, and Army Managerial Accounting Division, Ms. Otto is a member of the ASMC's Indianapolis Chapter.

Kimberly Shaw is the staff accountant for Army Managerial Accounting Division. She did her intenship at DFAS-Lawton.
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Author:Shaw, Kimberly
Publication:Armed Forces Comptroller
Date:Sep 22, 2005
Words:1415
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