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DoD FM Certification Program: on-boarded and working each achievement via record learning.

With buzzwords like "on-boarded," "achievement," and "record learning" the DoD FM Certification Program (DFMCP, aka Certification Program) is well underway. DFMCP was initiated by the Honorable Robert F. Hale and is the Department's most recent effort to establish a "DoD-wide framework to guide our professional development and help us better adapt to future requirements. This new framework also helps new and more seasoned people alike in determining what they should be learning at each step of their careers." Subsequently, and having assumed the helm as the new Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, the Honorable Michael McCord immediately gave his support to the Certification Program stating, "In 2015, I will continue my full support of this program (DFMCP) and expect to keep this momentum going. I expect to see a steady increase in certified members, improved communication across and within DoD organizations, and enhanced understanding of key concepts like audit readiness." Codified into law, DFMCP exists today under authority of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81), which gave the Secretary of Defense authority to "prescribe professional certification and credential standards for financial management positions within the Department of Defense." Three key websites associated with DFMCP are DoD FM Online at https://fmonline.ousdc.osd.mil/Default.aspx, DoD FM LMS (iCompass) at https://whs.plateau.com/learning/user/ ssoLogin.do, and FM myLearn at https://fmonline.ousdc.osd.mil/FMmyLearn/Default.aspx.

Program Overview

DFMCP is a course-based certification program with three certification levels (Levels 1, 2, and 3). In addition to having specific years of financial management (FM) experience; training in audit readiness, fiscal law, and ethics; to achieve a certification level, financial managers (FMers) have to satisfy training requirements in FM and Leadership competencies applicable to that level. To satisfy these training requirements, FMers have to complete the designated course hours of an aligned course (or courses). Each course is rated proficiency level 1, 3, or 5. A proficiency level 1 (PL1) rating is the lowest and is used to rate introductory courses. On the other hand, PL5 is the highest and is applied to higher level courses. In some cases, a course could be aligned to all three proficiency levels. Otherwise, a PL1 course is aligned to certification level 1, PL3 to certification level 2, and PL5 to certification level 3. Therefore, at certification level 3, FMers are taking courses that have more complex subjects making them rank at the highest proficiency level, PL5. Academic courses may also be used to satisfy training requirements. At certification level 3, there is an additional requirement to have a 3-month developmental assignment.

While the Army Comptroller Proponency (PO), Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller (ASA (FM&C)), is overall responsible for implementation of the Certification Program for Army (military and civilians), the U.S. Army Financial Management School (USAFMS), U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute (USASSI) oversees the military implementation. Additionally, USAFMS performs course manager duties for the Army, aligning all FM and non-FM military courses to the Certification Program. In light of the School's responsibilities, this article informs the FM community about the military implementation of the Certification Program by highlighting three major categories: on-boarded, achievement, and record learning.

Getting Started--The On-boarding Process

Throughout CY 2014, over 10,000 Career Management Field (CMF) 36 military personnel and Career Program (CP) 11 civilians assigned to FM positions were on-boarded into the Certification Program. DoD11300-26, Operation of the DoD Financial Management Certification Program, dated November, 2013, defines FM positions as "civilian or military positions that perform, supervise, or manage the work of a fiscal, FM, accounting, auditing, cost or budgetary nature, or that require the performance of financial management-related work." On-boarding refers to the process of bringing FMers into the DoD FM Certification Program via the DoD FM Learning Management System (FM LMS). Initially, the Army Comptroller Proponency (PO) provides a briefing to the Organization/Command describing the FM Certification Program, the On-Boarding process, and process for obtaining and maintaining FM Certification. This briefing provides an understanding of the implementation process, prerequisites, FM LMS and leadership roles. Organizations/Commands should in turn present the briefing to their subordinates. The 2-year clock starts once FMers are loaded into the FM LMS and receive their notification welcoming them to the DoD FM Certification Learning Management System.

Determining Certification Levels

Each Organization/Command reviewed their manning documents (MTOE and/or TDA) to identify military and civilian positions that will participate in the Certification Program and subsequently coded each position certification levels 1, 2, or 3. See table below that provides guidance for assigning certification levels.

Army Recommended Certification Levels (Figure 1)

By matching manning documents, the Organization/Command will complete the PO template with users' names and certification levels and submit to the PO. Participants/users must sign a memorandum acknowledging their certification levels and the two-year time requirement. The PO submits the template to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for approval and loading into the FM LMS. The Organization/Command also develops and submits to the PO their FM LMS hierarchy with the names of the Component Certification Authority (CCA), the optional Approver Level 2 (A2), Supervisor Level 1 (S1), and Component Administrator (CA). Once loaded, FM LMS will launch an email to participant/users welcoming them into the Certification Program. Users will log into FM LMS and establish a PIN; USER ID is given. The four horizontal bands below depict the On-boarding process.

Achieving Certification

Certification is achieved by documenting education and experience in the FM LMS. Within the FM LMS each successfully completed certification requirement is called an achievement. This term applies to all completed requirements for each Certification Level. The DoD FM Certification requirements at each of the three levels are:

* Training in FM Competencies (course-based)

* Training in Leadership Competencies (course-based)

* Other required courses

* Audit Readiness

* Ethics

* Fiscal Law

* DoD FM 101 (Level 1)

* FM experience / DoD FM experience

* 3-Month Developmental Assignment (Level 3)

* Continuing education and training (CET)

Completing an achievement requires a 3-step process that will be discussed further in the "Record Learning" section of this article. The second step of the 3-step process requires attaching the appropriate documentation to substantiate the achievement. All documents uploaded in the FM LMS must be free from personally identifiable information (Pll). Redact all Pll from these documents before uploading them into the FM LMS. More than just your social security number (SSN), Pll includes biometric records, dates and places of birth, address information, mother's maiden name, or any other data that can be used to identify you or your family. Once you have completed all of the requirements necessary for each achievement item, submit that "achievement" to your S1 for approval.

Use FM myLearn to locate the course that you are using to complete the achievement. FM myLearn is the electronic catalog (eCatalog) of all courses that have been aligned to the Certification Program. There are multiple ways to search for a course: keywords, competency (FM or Leadership), proficiency level, substitution, delivery method, etc. A course will be categorized as Current Active DoD, Inactive DoD, Federal Non-DoD (active/inactive), and Commercial (active/inactive). Review the course information to determine the FM and/or Leadership competencies that were aligned as well as the hours associated with each.

In order of precedence, acceptable documents to substantiate completion of training to meet DoD FM Certification requirements are:

1. DA Form 1059, Academic Evaluation Report (AER)

2. Certificate of Completion/Diploma

3. Transcript

4. Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) Training Record

5. Officer or Enlisted Record Brief (ORB/ERB)

6. Memorandum for Record (template available on FM Online) signed by the Senior Army FM leader in your organization.

Record Learning--Documenting your Achievements

To complete the requirements for each achievement item, use the "Record Learning" feature located within the "Easy Links" box (see Figure 4 below) to complete the 3-step process.

The Easy Links box is visible on your "Home" page in the FM LMS. Per OSD, "The DoD FM LMS (FM LMS) is a web-based application that is used by the FM workforce to record and track accomplishments against the overarching FM Certification Program requirements. The FM LMS is the central location for FM personnel to satisfy all requirements for certification and for supervisors, A2s, and CCAs to validate the information provided, and to award certification. The FM LMS is pre-loaded with:

* FM personnel information including FM certification level requirements based on personnel data system feeds.

* Catalog of FM courses, aligned to FM competencies required for each certification level.

* Catalog of leadership courses, aligned to leadership competencies for each certification level.

* DoD FM 101, 201, and 301 web-based training modules."

To demonstrate the 3-step process for completing an achievement using Record Learning, the following example assumes a participant/user pursuing certification level 3, is a graduate of the Financial Management Captains Career Course (FMCCC) and wants to use this course to meet the requirement, and is first completing the FM competency Decision Support (DS). In this example, FMCCC is considered a course that was taken external to the FM LMS.

Step 1--Course/Competency Selection.

After selecting "Record Learning," you may type "FMCCC DS" as a keyword in the "Keywords" search box. "FMCCC" represents the course and "DS" the competency. Select Next.

Select the radio button as indicated below to choose the FMCCC course with the Decision Support (DS) competency, rated at proficiency level (PL) 5. Select Next.

Select the dropdown to choose completion status: COURSE_COMPLETE

(Course Completed)--For Credit. Select Next.

Select Next.

Confirm the course title and proper completion status. Select Finish.

The following message is displayed on the screen:

* The learning event has been successfully recorded

* You can go to the Learning History page to print out the Completion Certificate if this event provides credit for the item.

NOTE: DO NOT upload attachments during this step (Step 1). Attachments will be uploaded during the achievement documentation recording process.

Step 2--Documentation.

After returning to the Home page and selecting Record Learning, type the keywords "Decision Support L3PL5 Achievement Documentation." Select Next.

Select the radio button as indicated below to choose the DS achievement documentation. Select Next.

Select the dropdown to choose completion status: FM-DOCUMENTATION-COMPLETE

(FM Documentation Complete)--For Credit. Select Next

Select Next.

Verify the accuracy of the course and course title. Select Finish.

The following message is displayed on the screen:

* The learning event has been successfully recorded

* You can go to the Learning History page to print out the Completion Certificate if this event provides credit for the item.

Select the File Attachments link. After the file attachments window displays, select Browse to locate the document (DA Form 1059, certificate, etc.) that provides proof of completion for FMCCC.

NOTE: Multiple documents must be combined into one single file and .pdf files are strongly encouraged.

After verifying the attachment, select X to exit.

Step 3--Request Achievement Approval. After returning to the Home page and selecting Record Learning, type the keywords "Decision Support L3PL5 Achievement Documentation." Select Next.

Select the radio button as indicated below to choose the DS achievement documentation.

Select Next.

Select the dropdown to choose completion status: FM-DOCUMENTATION-COMPLETE (FM Achievement Approved)--For Credit. Select Next

Select Next

Confirm the course title and proper completion status. Select Finish.

Enter User ID and PIN. Your User ID was emailed to you when your account was entered into the FM LMS. You also had to establish a PIN. If you have forgotten your User ID or PIN, please contact your Component Administrator. Select Confirm.

An Approval Process Confirmation will display and the following message appears:

"One or more users require an additional e-signature verification. A request for e-signature approval has been sent to the required approvers. The event will be committed to history upon completion of the additional approvals."

NOTE: Some Users may not have a second level of approval assigned to them and receive the following message:

"An additional approval process is required for one or more users. The following approval process steps do not have users assigned to the required roles. These steps will be skipped. Do you want to continue?"

Select Yes to continue. After approving, Users will see the Approval Process Confirmation message above.

Three green checkmarks (below) indicate that the certification requirements for that achievement are complete. In this case, the course has been recorded, documentation attached, and the Supervisor Level 1 (S1) approved the achievement.

Repeat the 3-step process described above to complete other achievement items.

In summary, participation in the DoD FM Certification Program is mandatory if you are a financial manager doing FM work and assigned to a FM position. DFMCP is important to senior leadership but, more importantly, it is beneficial to all FMers because it establishes a set of standards to guide professional development as well as help the workforce better adapt to future requirements. In an era of continued scarce resources, implementation of multiple enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and the need to achieve auditable financial statements, it is important that FMers hone their skills so they can provide relevant information that will help commanders and managers make better decisions. DFMCP helps meet these challenges. As the (ASA (FM&C)), Mr. Robert M. Speer, stated, "The program is designed to improve the capability of Army's financial managers especially in audit readiness and analytics" and "...is a significant step forward and is already shaping the professional development of the Army FM workforce." So, get certified. Get on-boarded and work on your achievement via Record Learning.

Christopher Lyew-Daniels

Christopher Lyew-Daniels is a financial management analyst assigned to the U.S. Army Financial Management School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Fie is primarily responsible for the military implementation of the DoD FM Certification Program. Mr. Lyew-Daniels has over 28 years of FM experience having served on active duty for over 21 years. Fie holds an M.B.A. degree from Webster University and is a Certified Defense Financial Manager.

Figure 1. Determining Certification Levels

Level   Officer        Enlisted   Civilian *

1       01-02          E1-E4      GS1-GS8
2       03-04          E5-E6      GS9-GS13
3       05 and above   E7-E9      GS14 and above

* GS and equivalent pay plans
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Author:Lyew-Daniels, Christopher
Publication:Armed Forces Comptroller
Date:Mar 22, 2015
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