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Member perspective.

QUESTION: If you could implement a change to improve business process in any way for your unit, your service, or the entire DoD financial community, what would that change be?

KEITH HICKS

AIR FORCE MILCON APPROPRIATION MANAGER

The Department needs more discipline in prioritizing its Military Construction (MILCON) program. Some Services have already migrated their budgeting process from simply funding "what the commander wants" to a more robust process of ranking potential MILCON projects based on mission stoppage, condition of current facility, anti-terrorism or force protection needs, documented safety violations, and completeness of environmental assessments--as well as commander priorities. Now the Department must do the same. For instance, examples exist where MILCON projects rejected for not competing well were added later by the Department because a powerful general or flag officer made a phone call. We need to award scarce funds based on merit, competition, and well-established metrics.

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LEE TAPIA, CDFM-A

LEAN SIX SIGMA PROGRAM DIRECTOR; LRMC, RESOURCE MANAGEMENT DIVISION

I would ensure that all employees are taught to look at processes through the eyes of TIMWOOD--Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproducing, Overprocessing, and Defects, the seven buckets of waste. Teaching employees to look at processes to spot any of these wastes will decrease process lead time (better use of resources) and improve the quality of the output of the process by reducing complexity. We need to train employees to ask, Is this step in the process adding value for the customer?

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KEVIN R. FEW

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST; AFRURBFB, WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB

I would implement a standard integrated system and approach for financial management, accounting, contracting, and related activities. This could be done at the Service level, but it would provide much more value if implemented for the entire Department of Defense (DoD). A standard system would eliminate problems resulting from the inability of different systems to communicate effectively with each other and improve the value, ease of access, speed, and understanding of the financial and managerial data derived from the system across the Service and/or the DoD. These benefits would lead to a much greater ability for the business community to routinely deliver relevant, reliable, and timely financial information to support management decisions.

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COLONEL MIKE COOK

DIRECTOR, RESOURCE MANAGEMENT; JOINT SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND

I'd field an accounting system that fully integrates forecasting and execution. During a Training with Industry assignment, I saw how General Electric uses just such a tool (Oracle's Financial Analyzer, OFA) to help understand and control costs. Because forecasts and actual execution were integrated, GE analysts had to do none of the STANFINS-to-Excel cut-and-paste drills required of Army analysts before they even begin their analyses. The power of OFA to enable rapid variance analysis is truly amazing.

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JACK D. WILSON

BUDGET OFFICER, JOINT PROGRAM MANAGER GUARDIAN

I would implement mandatory career progression internships for Career Program 11 employees. Many mid-level (GS-11/GS-12) employees are not familiar with basic financial management concepts and are unprepared to answer basic questions from subordinates and handle simple tasks because of a lack of core competency that is obtained at entry-level positions. Implementing mandatory career progression and mandating that certain training and experience milestones be met better prepares the entry-level workforce for positions of higher authority and improves the Army financial management workforce overall.

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ERNEST BADMAN, CDFM-A

BUDGET SUPERVISOR, 88 CPTS/FMA1; AVIATION CHAPTER

I would advocate greater use of functional Communities of Practice (CoP), particularly in the sharing of effective processes and procedures. Most financial operations are identical for comptroller organizations across different bases and commands, yet some organizations accomplish these operational processes more effectively and efficiently than others. A CoP at Air Force or Major Command level that gathers and shares best practices and promotes innovation would ensure that we leverage the optimal methods for accomplishing the comptroller mission; eliminate rework and "reinventing the wheel"; and help overcome losses of corporate knowledge due to personnel attrition.

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STAFF SERGEANT DUSTIN J. HARRINGTON, USAF

BUDGET ACCOUNTANT, 673D CPTS

Plain and simple, training! I have found that the single most alarming trend over the past few years is the lack of consistent and adequate training. Cuts in manpower and transformation processes cost lost time, money, and most importantly, working assets. The bottom line is that you get out what you put in to anything, and quite simply, training in our career field has not been the "in." If I could implement one change to the FM community (specific to the Air Force), it would be to augment two to three well-rounded 6F NCOs (depending on base size/volume), with between 10 and 15 years of service, whose sole responsibility would be to thoroughly train or give on-the-job training on a day-to-day basis and to translate all recurring changes from higher levels such SAF/FM, AFAFO, and MAJCOMs back to their CPTS counterparts. These devoted two-to-three person QAM/UTM teams would allow FMers (from E-1 through E-7) at all base levels (FMF, FMA, and RAs) to have the tools and freedom necessary to execute their duties with confidence and enable us as a career field to properly execute budgets, serve our customers, and truly get back to who we're supposed to be!

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ROLAND M. CLAVIEN, CDFM-A

DIRECTOR, BUSINESS RESOURCE DIVISION AND RM; USACE, ERDC

I would change the Army's penchant for engaging in percentage decrement drills. It is a ridiculous way to achieve cuts in the budget. Organizations waste too much time trying to determine how they can game the system for scenarios that involve multiple paper cuts to their program objective memorandum profile. A more rational and intelligent solution is for Army leadership to be more directive in its approach. The generals and the Senior Executive Service leaders in the Pentagon understand the mission and what they want the Army to accomplish. They seem to lack an understanding of everything that is being done out there toward that end and the fortitude to top-drive the cuts. The first part of this is simple. Some planning should start at the beginning of every budget year. Get a full breakdown from every command as to the discernible mission packages (no more than 100 people per) that contribute to the Army mission, and prioritize all of them. Then when cuts come down from the President, the Congress, or the DoD, the leaders can simply walk down the list and take care of it.

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RANDALL COLMUS

57 WING FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATOR; PRESIDENT, LAS VEGAS CHAPTER

One of the things that slow down any process and create extra work for everyone is the frustrating advent of rejected documents. Many of us submit documents through the wickets only to have them returned for repeated drafts. An easy fix is to use the AFS021 approach of "Five Whys": proper training and communication. Key personnel who are well trained on document processes can radically reduce the time and effort spent processing documents. By conducting regular training sessions, we've reduced rejections and increased document time flow by nearly 60 percent.

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LOIS WEAVER, CIV

CE BUDGET ANALYST; PUBLICITY CHAIR, THUNDERBIRD CHAPTER

I recently attended training that integrated full student participation with practical applications in small groups. Training that incorporates a specific process from start to finish and involves all key players is valuable. Understanding what happens before and after the product hits my desk and why my part in the process is important to the mission are priceless. With the availability of so much web-based training, we have gotten away from recognizing the true value of hands-on training. Interactive training with input from various key player experts both within and outside one's office is what knowledge is all about. The better the training, the better the business process and the better the product!

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GAIL L. MCPHERSON, ACCOUNTANT

ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE PUBLIC DIVISION DEAMS SME

The CIA, FBI, and other National Security organizations are considering sharing information; the Department of Defense could also do this. We have multiple layers of organizations that require the same information. We have budget people needing to know what their budgets will be, how much they have spent, who is using the money, etc. Although many reports are created, very few organizations know where those reports are located. They may also require access to different areas such as portal pages, On Line Report Viewers, Commanders Resource Integrated System, Access databases, Excel spreadsheets, to name a few. Many times we are required to provide information to our customers; a month later someone in another organization needs the same information, but usually in a different format. This requires rework, and with reductions for overtime, supplies, etc., it is almost impossible to provide everything everyone seems to need--yesterday. A feature available on the E Portal allows us to find anyone within DFAS. Why can't we have a standardized, easy-to-find methodology for access to the many different reports available online? We need to learn to share.

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SECOND LIEUTENANT MICHELLE KIM, USAF

BUDGET OFFICER: PRESIDENT, THUNDERBIRD CHAPTER

Throughout our lives we strive to meet the standards set before us. We are asked constantly what step, process, or quality checks could we add in order to improve our effectiveness. Instead, we should be asking ourselves, Why add another step? and Would an additional step make a difference? Why not look at process as a whole from beginning to end, identifying steps that are value-added or nonvalue-added? And we need to look to outside agencies for their inputs. They may have a piece of the puzzle that we may not yet know. At the same time, the changes we make need to be focused on long-term sustainability rather than the short-term goals of a single individual. If the current process doesn't work, evaluate it, rather than adding another step along the way.

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CHRISTOPHER HUMPHREY

PROGRAM CONTROL, CDFM-A; PRESIDENT, LOS ANGELES CHAPTER

Currently, the Program Control Function in Acquisition is broken down into three segments: Budget (PCB), Cost (PCE), and Reporting (PCR). Under the PCR subgroup are an Acquisition Reporting Team and a Commander's/Director's Action Group (CAG or DAG) that facilitate the completion of a multitude of congressional and multi-agency taskers and suspenses. To improve business processes for my unit, Service, or the entire DoD financial community, I would pull out the PCR branch and place it directly under the director's/commander's purview. While this group serves a critical mission function, I don't agree that the roles, responsibilities, accountabilities, and authorities therein apply directly to the Program Control community. In place of the PCR branch, I would stand up a Program Control Integration (PCI) branch. The primary focus of the PCI would be to integrate the cost-estimating and budget functions, effectively marrying budget and cost in all activities of the planning, programming, budgeting, and execution process. A secondary focus of the PCI branch would be to balance the Enterprise Portfolio and enable a more efficient program objective memorandum process, to include handling documentation and advocacy building for unfunded requirements and threshold realignments internal to a Directorate or Program Office. The successful standup of an integration branch would effectively infuse a more transparent business operations agenda into the Integrated Product Teams.

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Publication:Armed Forces Comptroller
Article Type:Interview
Date:Mar 22, 2011
Words:1868
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