An opportunity for expertise: base-level finance and the center of expertise.
It was a slow Tuesday afternoon, the perfect time to check the Assignment Management System for financial management (FM) staff sergeant positions. I was surprised to see a listing for the "Financial Management Center of Expertise (FM CoE)." I was intrigued by the name, so I became curious to find out more about the job. After some research, I discovered the FM CoE performs business case analyses (BCAs), economic analyses (EA), cost analyses, and other forms of decision support that provide a holistic approach to problem solving for the operational Air Force. However, due to my lack of experience in performing these types of analyses, I did not quite understand the day-to-day activities of the center. However, I understood enough to realize the CoE offered highly marketable skills that I wanted for myself and any organizations I might be assigned to next.
Base-level finance provides an invaluable foundation of customer service skills and general FM knowledge that I can utilize throughout my career. The experience I gained working counter, reviewing travel vouchers, coding/certifying MilPay, scrubbing the GOO, and certifying funds allowed me to become an expert in these skill areas. However, once I mastered these tasks, I began to crave more challenging assignments. For those of us who have worked solely at base level, the mystery of working outside of our traditional scope is enticing.
Shortly after volunteering for the CoE job, I was notified of my selection and have been working at the CoE for almost a year. There are similarities between base-level finance and the CoE, but the latter offers an entirely different perspective on the Air Force as a whole. Customer service remains a top priority, but customers usually come in the form of bases or MAJCOMs, rather than individuals. Working with an array of different MAJCOMs and installations on a daily basis has been enlightening. Each day presents a stimulating challenge and an opportunity to learn something new.
Within the first few months, I helped to find potential efficiencies in base contracts, proposed alternatives to operating fitness centers and base lodging, and evaluated various options for resolving a hydraulic test stand issue. It is normal to work with customers for many weeks during a project while simultaneously working other projects.
Decision support is an area that senior leaders across the Air Force emphasize, and something the CoE does well. Making informed decisions builds a stronger Air Force. Who better to learn from than the experts who provide this support the Air Force needs at such a critical time? I feel fortunate to work at the CoE and am grateful for the opportunity to hone my analytical skills. The skill sets I gained in the past year are invaluable not only to me, but also to the overall Air Force mission. So now I ask, "Considering the abundance of knowledge working at the CoE offers, who would pass on such a great opportunity to gain some expertise?"
If you need assistance with your decision support analysis, please contact the FM CoE at DSN: 847-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
by SSgt Jordan Edwards, FM CoE
About the Author
SSgt Jordan Edwards is a financial analyst at the FM Center of Expertise. He has four years of Air Force financial management experience.