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Professional Development.

Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM) Program--CDFM Update

As of the last quarter of 2000, there were over 230 Certified Defense Financial Managers. And ASMC National Headquarters recently mailed CDFM certificates to the sixty-six newest CDFMs.

If you are a CDFM and your name is not listed, you may have earned the designation after the deadline for submission had passed. Your name will appear in the next issue.

There have been over 1800 modules taken, an indication that many have begun the certification process.

Chapter Rebate Program

Each chapter member who registers for and rakes a module can benefit his or her chapter. ASMC introduced a new program on January 1, 2001, whereby a chapter receives a $25 rebate for each person who registers for and takes a module. The program is designed to encourage testing and to benefit the chapters.

ASMC places no stipulations on how the rebated money can be spent. Some chapters are adding $10 to the $25 rebate and refunding the $35 registration fee to its members. Other chapters intend to use the monies to return free test modules to individual members or for scholarships.

Certification Overview Training

Several chapters have requested that ASMC Headquarters provide certification training or updates at their Mini-PDIs. Don't be left out! If you're interested in CDFM presentations, please contact Frank Arcari (703-549-0360, X226; 800-462-5637, X226 or arcarif@asmccertification.com) as soon as possible.

CDFM Pins

ASMC has designed a pin specifically for the CDFM. The discreet, rounded pin signifies the success of those who have earned the CDFM designation. In shades of gold, black, and white, the pin bears the gold ASMC logo on a white background in the center. An outer black rim is encircled with the words American Society of Military Comptrollers in gold lettering. A shield at the bottom of the pin bears the letters CDFM printed in black lettering on a gold background.

The pin is available free of charge only to those who have earned the CDFM designation. ASMC asks that all CDFMs wear the pin with pride because it signifies exceptional professional achievement.

Certification Program Web Site

Check us out at www.asmccertification.com!

Because the certification program is so important to ASMC, its membership, and the comptrollership profession, we have developed a Web site devoted solely to the program.

We will inform you of everything that you need to know about the program and about what is happening in the fields of Defense financial management and federal government-wide financial management. Visit the site often for information on what could impact the work you do.

ASMC will also alert you to opportunities for continuing professional education, such as conferences, seminars, and classes (online, self-study, and instructor-led). Continuing professional education is the cornerstone of professional development; professional development enhances both the possibility and the probability that you will advance in your career.

We are including a feedback, or "talk to us," format and we hope you will use it. We want to hear from you--whether you agree with us or not. We are perfectly open to changing our course if the response from the readership indicates that we should.

The Web site will list the names of everyone who has earned the CDFM designation. We may also list the names of those who have taken and passed one or two modules.

CDFM Exams

ASMC has recently signed an agreement with Defense Activities Non-Traditional Educational Support (DANTES) to deliver the paper version of the CDFM examination to over 200 education sites on bases, posts, camps, and stations overseas. DANTES will provide the proctors and the secure environment for anyone who wishes to sit for the CDFM examination.

CDFM Reports

Please let us know as soon as you have passed each CDFM module. Even though our examination providers notify us, we like to hear from you, too. So if you pass a module or modules, please fax us a copy of the "pass" report at (703) 549-3181. This will allow us to serve you better and to keep our records current.

Testimonials

If you are a CDFM, please send us your testimonial and your personal observations on the CDFM program and its impact on you and your career. We'd love to hear from you. And, if you can, send a photograph of yourself to accompany your short article.

CDFM Testimonial

LTC Curt Wheeler, CDFM

As a new Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM), I'm thrilled with the opportunities created by the certification program. Certification increases benefits not only for the individual but also for the Department of Defense and ultimately for the taxpayer footing the bill.

The CDFM program is a well-rounded, in-depth study designed to sharpen an individual's skills in the financial management arena. A more competent workforce increases our mission capability, providing more "bang for the buck" for the taxpayers' dollars. With congressional interest on the rise, as evidenced by the language in the National Defense Authorization Act, it is definitely in our best interests to step our profession up to the next level with the CDFM program. This proactive approach will go far in demonstrating our ability to effectively manage our resources.

I highly encourage everyone to take a look at the program. It doesn't matter if you plan to attain your certification or just sharpen your skills in one specific area; you will find a wealth of reference material and other information at your fingertips. You will also find that as you focus on one core competency, the information you learn usually applies to other areas of competency. That extra boost may be all it takes to encourage you to complete your certification.

So give it a try. We'll all benefit.

Updated Montgomery GI Bill Highlights Final Bill Confirming 106th Congress as "Productive" for Veterans

ASMC has been following the progress of a bill amending the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) as it moved through the House and the Senate and was sent to the president for signature. The bill contains substantial new provisions for education and health benefits. As of press time, ASMC had not yet ascertained what specific criteria are required for a program to be accepted by VA for reimbursement, but we are keeping abreast of the issue. Following is an excerpt from the press release issued by the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Bob Stump, Chairman.

Washington, DC -- The House confirmed the 106th Congress as a productive one for veterans Tuesday (October 17, 2000) by passing overwhelmingly S.1402, the Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000, a comprehensive package of education, health, and compensation benefits headed by an updated Montgomery GI Bill.

The bill combines legislation recommended earlier in the year by House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. The Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-419), which was signed into law by the President on November 1, 2000, makes some important changes to the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and other VA education benefits.

"Bringing the Montgomery GI Bill more in line with rising education costs keeps the promise we made to veterans when they enlisted," said House Veterans/Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Stump (R-AZ), who also sits on the Armed Services Committee. "Increasing the monthly education benefit to $650 could mean $23,400 in assistance to a full-time student pursuing a four-year degree. That will ease the transition back to civilian life for young men and women who served their country while their peers were getting head starts on their careers. At the same time, this measure will help retention and recruitment."

"This landmark legislation will result in a significant percentage increase in the veterans' education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill," said Congressman Lane Evans of Illinois, the ranking Democrat on the Veterans' Affairs Committee. "It will also help VA to hire and retain the skilled, caring health personnel it must have. We have supported pay raises for VA's wonderful nurses, and helped its dentists, pharmacists, physician's assistants and social workers. This legislation will help VA put veterans first."

S.1402 (Public Law 106-319) raises the educational benefits of veterans' survivors and dependents to $588 per month. It gives active duty service members another chance to convert their Post-Vietnam Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) benefits to the MGIB if they previously declined to do so or withdrew all funds from their VEAP accounts. Other provisions allow payment of education benefits during intervals lasting as long as eight weeks between academic terms and the use of up to $2,000 of VA education benefits toward the fee for a civilian licensing or certification examination.

The latter provision is embodied in Title 1 - Educational Assistance Programs, Subtitle C - General Educational Assistance, paragraph 2: "Allow for veterans', survivors' and dependents' educational assistance to be used to pay for up to $2,000 in fees for civilian occupational licensing or certification examinations; establish requirements regarding the use of such entitlement and requirements for organizations or entities offering licensing or certification tests; and establish a seven-member VA Professional Certification and Licensing Advisory Committee."

Certification Assistant

Tonya Murry has recently joined the ASMC certification staff as the Administrative Assistant. Tonya comes to ASMC from VOCA of Washington, D.C. She has two children, DeVon, 7, and Alexis, 5. Tonya's father was in the military, so her family moved many times; but she calls Alaska her home. She will be on the front lines of the CDFM program and she is the person you should contact when you have questions. about scheduling your examination or changing your address, name, phone number, or e-mail address. We welcome Tonya to the ASMC community.

Certification Team E-mail Addresses:

Frank Arcari

arcari@asmccertificatzon.com

800-462-5637, x226 or

703-549-0360, x226

Louise Wehrle

wehrlel@asmccertification.com

800-462-5637, x236 or

703-549-0360, x236

Tonya Murry

muryt@asmccertification.com

800-462-5637, x225 or

703-549-0360, x225.

Mary F.Carr, CDFM

Certification to me means commitment and responsibility:commitment to study, pass the exam, and uphold the certification standards; and responsibility to demonstrate and sustain a rigorous level of broad financial management knowledge and capability. The Certified Defense Financial Manager exam is comprehensive and detailed. As financial management professionals, we're expected to be expert in all financial management disciplines. The CDFM offers an opportunity to demonstrate multifaceted financial management expertise via a national, statistically validated, tri-service mechanism.

Beverly Martin, CDFM

I attended the European PDI in October prepared to take Module I of the Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM) test. Before the conclusion of the PDI I had taken all three tests and passed each one. The excitement spreading among the PDI attendees who came prepared to take the tests was a great incentive. After walking out of the first test, I felt the adrenaline rushing. I immediately ran back to my room and started studying; however, I couldn't decide whether to restudy for Module I or progress to Module II. I decided on Module II. Of course, after being notified that I had passed the first test and after having taken the second one, there was no turning back. I had to take Module Ill. The encouragement of everyone at the PDI was also a great incentive.

I am extremely competitive inwardly and set high standards that I am constantly revising and striving to reach. When I first heard about the Certified Defense Financial Manager program and the associated term "A New Standard of Excellence," I was instantly intrigued--I had to have" a piece of this" to add to my standards. More importantly, I always wondered if my training and work experience really had prepared me for different types of jobs and cross-leveling in the financial management field.

Although preparation for the test by no means made me knowledgeable enough to tackle any financial management job, it did help me identify my weaknesses and strengths. By improving my weak areas through formal and professional self-improvement, I have additional tools to better prepare myself when seeking jobs at different levels and commands.

I have been asked several times what certification means professionally. I don't know. We all know that some people are just good test takers or lucky and not really any smarter than the next person. I know that my superiors know that I'm not really any smarter than a lot of their other employees. I hope by gaining this certification that my superiors, peers, and subordinates will look at me as an employee who takes pride in her work, who took the initiative to study and take the tests, and who looks for continued improvement and professional excellence.

Frequently Asked Questions About Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Q: Can I claim CPEs for such events as classes or seminars that don't offer any credits?

A: Yes, you can claim CPEs for events that don't formally offer them. Here's how. First, determine that the event was a professional enhancement for you and was prepared and delivered by experienced and knowledgeable personnel. Then, calculate the number of minutes you spent in the actual learning situation (breaks and lunch with friends don't count),and divide the result by 50. The whole-number answer will be the number of CPEs you can claim.

Q: The CPE regulations state that a CDFM can claim up to three times the amount of CPEs for presentations (for example, delivery time of CPE plus twice that amount for preparation time). Does this mean that some people can claim only twice the amount or less?

A: Yes. If a person is preparing a presentation based on information that he or she is intimately familiar with, he or she may choose not to claim the full amount for preparation. In addition, there are some certifications that may place restrictions on the amount of CPEs that can be earned in a particular subject area or through a particular delivery mode.

Q: Can a CDFM claim college credit for having taken the Enhanced Defense Financial Management Training Course (EDFMTC)?

A: No, not at this time. ASMC Headquarters is applying to the American Council on Education (ACE) for recognition of the EDFMTC for college credit. The process is extensive, and an ACE evaluation team must review the application and all course materials before granting accreditation.

Q: What is ACE accreditation?

A: Part of ACE's function is to review courses to determine if they are suitable and comprehensive enough to be awarded college credits. For example, if the reviewing team of subject-matter experts finds that the material in the EDFMTC is sufficiently comprehensive to be equivalent to a college-level course, it will award credits in an amount to be determined by ACE.

Q: What is NASBA, and why is ASMC on its sponsor registry?

A: NASBA is the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. Each state has a Board of Accountancy that governs the practice of certified public accountants (CPAs) in that state. NASBA is the overall association formed of representatives from the individual states. Some states have more stringent rules than the ones that NASBA uses to judge which organizations have the administrative capacity and the subject-matter expertise to present appropriate continuing professional educational opportunities to the practicing CPA.

Being on the NASBA sponsor registry means that ASMC administrative practices and subject-matter expertise have been reviewed and approved by a recognized national authority. ASMC now ranks with the cadre of other professional organizations that provide to their members and to others in the profession the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of and new developments in the field of Defense financial management.

Audrea M. Nelson, CDFM

Inspiration for becoming a Certified Defense Financial Manager stemmed from my desire to ensure that I was not a part of a problem reported by the General Accounting Office. The report indicated that financial managers within the Department of Defense lack the training and certifications to successfully manage and account for the Department's resources in excess of $250 billion dollars.

Although I have had training and education related to my profession and hold the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) certification, passing the CDFM examination allowed me to obtain a credential that represents mastery of a broad range of financial management concepts unique to the DoD.

Preparing for the CDFM exam was a very enriching and educational experience for me because I reinforced my knowledge of financial management concepts and gained detailed information on the inter-relationship of these concepts.

I easily accessed the primary study materials from the CDFM Web page at www.asmconline.org. I found the online self-study guide easy to follow since it includes Web addresses for the U.S. Codes associated with each CDFM module. Materials obtained from the Enhanced Defense Financial Management Training Course, along with a detailed self-test, were also useful.

The computer-based exam allows testers to track timing and mark questions for later viewing. And it provides immediate results. While taking the exam, I found it very important to read each question carefully before attempting to answer, even if it appeared that the question was easy. This technique is very important because some questions could have selective responses that are somewhat similar but very different in relation to the question being asked.

Once the test has been submitted, a PASS or FAIL response is automatically generated. I felt a sense of relief when the "Congratulations, You PASSED" response popped up on the screen.

As a CDFM, I hold a certification distinguishing me as a multidisciplined financial manager with attendant formal education, training, and work experience in DoD resource management, accounting and finance, and budget and cost analysis. In the new millennium I am now prepared to perform senior-level DoD financial management duties effectively and responsibly.

It is an honor to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem reported by the GAO and to aid the Department in its efforts to dramatically improve financial management.

Beth Kelley, CDFM

As part of my learning experience this past year as a student in the Army Comptrollership Program, I was fortunate to attend one of the first classes offered for the Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM) examination. Additionally, I was asked to participate in an evaluation meeting in early February 2000 to review and update the training and examination. If I had to sum up the entire experience into one phrase, I would have to say that it is all about the journey!

The CDFM exam consists of three modules, each geared to different aspects of financial management. Some were familiar and some were new to me. The class provided an avenue for gaining an appreciation for how truly vast and complex the DoD financial management community is in its many facets of responsibility. And it went well beyond "teaching the test." Further, the training provided additional development in areas where I had little experience, such as learning how a cost analysis was developed.

Since my return to DFAS-Orlando in August 2000, the one question most often asked has been "Was the CDFM training beneficial?" My answer is, emphatically, "Yes!" I believe each ASMC member should view his or her preparation in taking the CDFM exam as a catalyst for learning other aspects of the DoD financial community versus focusing solely on passing the examination.

If I had to give one more piece of advice, it would be to take the one module that the ASMC member is familiar with before taking the other two modules. This approach will enable him or her not only to become familiar with the type of questions being asked but also to become acclimated to sitting for a computerized exam.

Good luck and enjoy the journey of learning!

Tom Tresslar, CDFM

The requirement to prepare audited financial statements in the federal government provides new challenges to improve financial information and also provides opportunities for professional growth and responsibility. Earning the American Society of Military Comptrollers' Certified Defense Financial Manager certification is one very important action financial managers can take to improve the knowledge and skills required in this exciting period of financial management.

The responsibilities of DoD financial managers cover a broad scope of knowledge and skills, for example, resource management, budget, cost analysis, finance, and accounting. I believe that the Department's financial managers should set the example by taking the CDFM examinations and achieving CDFM certification. The CDFM shows one's commitment to improving the professionalism of the financial management community. The CDFM designation also demonstrates to the public an ASMC core value:the continuous development of good stewardship over resources entrusted to the Department's public servants.

Robert B. Johnson, CDFM

When I initially decided to take the certification examinations, I wasn't certain exactly what passing them would mean to me. However, after passing the exams, I realized I had just joined a rather small group of professional men and women in our discipline. As with any other professional discipline, certification of experience and qualifications adds credence to the profession and to individuals working in that profession.

I take great pride in having passed the examinations and having become a Certified Defense Financial Manager. By receiving my certification, I have joined an elite group of professional financial managers. My qualifications in my profession now speak for themselves.

Sharon M. Squeo, CDFM

Editor's Note: Testimonial edited and reduced for space and content.

On August 9, 2000, my journey toward professional certification ended. I passed the final of three exam modules and became a Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM).The road was not easy, and I made several detours a long the way. For example, in December 1999, I attempted all three modules in one day--I did not pass all three. I failed one, Finance and Accounting. But, to the surprise of many, I still encouraged people to take the challenge, even though I was worried about completing certification myself.

My journey began by accident, when I substituted at PDI 1999 in San Diego for Mr. Anthony (Tony) Pellicano, the CECOM Deputy Chief of Staff for Resource Management (DCSRM). Tony told me to pay particular attention to information on the certification program and examinations. After very informative briefings by Mr. Robert Hale, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management and Comptroller), and Mr. Frank Arcari, ASMC, I indicated interest in the Beta exam, which would be the test run of the certification exam.

In September, I called Frank to follow up on my test request and to tell him how interested I was in taking the exam. As course manager for the CECOM Fiscal Law Course, I was interested to see how the course might be tailored to meet certification requirements. I was also curious to know the value of my experience and how it would be tested. My challenge early in the game might benefit others because I could help them to prepare, since I would have reviewed the many regulations recommended on the ASMC Web site. Frank agreed to let me try. I ordered my study guide in order to begin preparing. But at the same time that the study guide arrived, my workload increased drastically and spare time disappeared.

Right before Thanksgiving, Frank phoned to say that the test was a go and that I could be one of the first testers. I wondered how could I possibly be ready in two weeks. I panicked. Then I concentrated on familiar areas and left concepts I did not understand until the last minute. The afternoon before the test, I asked a Cost Analysis Division colleague to explain an alien cost formula.

At 9 am on December 9, 1999, I pulled into the Sylvan Learning Center parking lot in Toms River, NJ. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and walked in to take my tests. I used the full two hours allotted for each module. I marked those questions I could not answer and returned to them at the end of each module.

Three tests and eight hours later, I walked out mentally exhausted, with absolutely no idea how I had fared. There was no automatic score in the Beta exam because it was still in the test phase. The analysis process would not be done until sometime later. Finally, in April 2000, I received a letter from ASMC. I had passed the first two modules. The letter stated that I had several methods to prepare for the examination that were not available to the Beta group.

Frank set me up for a retake scheduled for August 12, 2000. With only one module to pass, I didn't take the five-day review course. There were too many other people just starting out who needed the course. Again, I concentrated on the familiar areas, leaving new concepts until the last minute. The afternoon before the test, I asked a Management Accounting Division colleague to explain a strange finance calculation.

When I again pulled into the Sylvan Learning Center parking lot, I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and walked in to retake the Accounting and Finance Module. It took me the full two hours. At the end of the test, I picked up my identification card from the security desk. The proctor smiled and handed me a piece of paper with the ASMC logo and seal. I knew right away what it was. The computer told me I had passed.

On a beautiful, sunny October Saturday, I was outside gardening. The mailperson handed me a tubular package. I knew right away what it was. The diploma read:

American society of Military Comptrollers The Certification Commission Having Determined That Sharon M. Squeo Has successfully met the requirements of an expert defense financial manager, hereby grants the designation of Certified Defense Financial Manager, CDFM

So ended my journey and my story.

I became certified and so can you. The right time is now. Pick a date, and move out. Do not be afraid to try, and do not be ashamed if you fail. Perseverance will prevail.
COPYRIGHT 2001 American Society of Military Comptrollers
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Title Annotation:army managers
Publication:Armed Forces Comptroller
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2001
Words:4310
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