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AFAFO: reacting to changes and preventing massive damage!

Have you ever heard the "boiling frog story"? More an anecdote than a story, it goes like this: if a frog is placed into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out upon feeling the impact of the heat. On the other hand, if the same frog is placed into a pot of cold water and the heat gradually increases, the frog does not perceive the danger and ultimately meets its demise. The story is widely used as a warning of the consequences of failing to react to gradual change.

In the Air Force Accounting and Finance Office (AFAFO), we do our best to identify and effectively react to changes that may impact the Air Force mission. We are at the heart of all financial services decisions and work to ensure that the formulation and implementation of strategic plans prevent potential massive losses in the financial management environment. Policy and guidance are issued to ensure that all financial management personnel properly and effectively utilize resources under their control. These actions ensure that the Air Force mission is accomplished through the efficient use of all available resources. There are times when we become so engulfed in our duties that we fail to recognize changes that may impact mission completion. In the AFAFO we see, hear, and understand the importance of current operation analysis, as well as the impact that external operations may have on the Air Force mission. Analysis of current FM operations and external business strategies are used to guide us to achieve specific goals and objectives that will ensure we are audit ready.

Currently, I am working with Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System (DEAMS) experts and learning the ins and outs of the new Oracle-based system. DEAMS will allow the Air Force to provide timely, accurate, and reliable financial information using standardized business rules and processes. There are currently two bases that are operating in DEAMS and four more are scheduled to transition at the beginning of the upcoming fiscal year. At AFAFO, we are prepared to rewrite current policies, as well as issue new policies, to ensure business rules and processes are standardized and legal.

Our goal at AFAFO is to provide each financial manager with the tools to effectively accomplish their mission legally and ethically. Policies are there to help ensure that money, facilities, and other resources are properly utilized. We receive calls from people who seem to think that our guidance in regard to existing regulation is strictly a matter of opinion, but that is far from the truth. Others think that policies can be implemented overnight, and in unique cases that may happen, but it is not the norm. We strongly value input to the regulations that are currently in place, but validation is required to ensure the result of potential changes will be beneficial to the entire Air Force. The impact of changes to our mission is mostly gradual and takes time to manifest. Unforeseen issues with anything from fiscal year end closeout to government shutdown may arise, and like the frog jumping out of the scalding pot, we will immediately issue policies that will minimize the impact to the mission. If the issue does not pose a threat, the fire is felt, but it normally takes several months of analysis, research, and planning to accomplish operative guidance. Regardless of how big or small a policy change may appear, always remember that if it is ignored, it could lead to massive losses in the future. The moral of the story: ALWAYS BE PREPARED TO LEAP!

About the Author

TSgt Arkeisha S. Lawrence is an Accounting Policies and Procedures Manager with the Air Force Accounting and Finance Office (AFAFO) located in Denver, CO.

by TSgt Arkeisha S. Lawrence, AFA40
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Title Annotation:ARTICLES
Author:Lawrence, Arkeisha S.
Publication:Air Force Comptroller
Date:Sep 22, 2013
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