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The case for pursuing certification.

No matter what the job or profession, an excellent workforce demands that individuals in that workforce always should be learning or teaching. The Defense financial management community has now stepped forward and built a program that recognizes professional growth and development, culminating in the award of the Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM) certification.

The CDFM is an examination-based certification developed by the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) in partnership with the Department of Defense and the Chauncey Group International,[R] a wholly owned subsidiary of Educational Testing Services.[R] The program covers the entire spectrum of financial management core competencies from many diverse areas such as finance and accounting, planning, programming and budgeting, cost and economic analysis, and fiscal law. Over 2,300 individuals have achieved the title of CDFM, which is a testament to their expertise as well as to their motivation.

Target Audience

One of the strengths of the CDFM program is that it targets the overall workforce that makes up the Defense financial management community. Our community is successful today because of the integration of government civilian employees, members of the military services (both active duty and reserve components), and the supporting contractor workforce. The CDFM program is inclusive and is designed for recognition of all financial managers.

The CDFM program offers a new standard of excellence. The groundwork that went into the drafting and execution of the program has resulted in a difficult and challenging--but rewarding--end state. Together with the Enhanced Defense Financial Management Training Course (EDFMT), CDFM certification is built to achieve the vision of a professional workforce entrusted with the management of the people's resources.

Expertise in Financial Management

Many financial management personnel become experts in one particular discipline, such as accounting, finance, budgeting, or programming. To become a CDFM, one must demonstrate expertise in a wide variety of financial management fields. This is the challenge of the program and one that is critically important. In today's environment of global real-time information, senior leaders look to their financial professionals for answers. They do not want to hear, "That's finance and accounting, not budget" or "That's a management analysis question, not program analysis." Our leaders require and demand answers that will help them make informed decisions.

Increasing Performance

Performance is a function of ability and motivation. To have high-performing organizations, leaders must identify training opportunities to increase their workers' abilities. The EDFMT is an excellent training and development tool to meet these requirements. Beyond the training slots centrally funded, many organizations have instituted programs to reimburse workers for the training and testing fees--as well as rewards for successful completion of the program. For many individuals, the motivation is intrinsic and comes with the desire to excel.

As with any new program that affects the workforce, there has been some reluctance on the part of individuals and organizations to participate. Beyond improving the potential of Defense financial management workers, the program enables workers to be recognized for their worth and their effort. No one wants to see an evaluation that says, "Strives for absolute minimums--and achieves them." The program is challenging but ultimately is attainable, as demonstrated by the hundreds of individuals who have earned the title of CDFM.

Focus and Perspective

Even though some supervisors may not have attained or expressed interest in certification, this doesn't excuse individual workers from concentrating on what they can affect. It is their choice to pursue the CDFM and the recognition it brings. For their part, the leaders of the financial community--the field grade and flag officers, the senior government civilians, and the senior contract employees--must challenge themselves to set the example by showing that the title or position they hold is based on technical expertise demonstrated by attaining the CDFM.

Taking the perspective of the other person helps to understand issues that confront us. With the CDFM program, there are three perspectives to address. For a subordinate, CDFM certification provides a title and recognition that may be invaluable for promotion and getting that desired job. For a peer, it is rewarding to see friends and co-workers achieve the designation. They should see it as a motivating factor in their current job. From the senior leader's perspective, certification demonstrates a highly skilled workforce that will result in a more effective organization.

The Journey Ahead

Achieving the CDFM designation signals not the culmination of financial management development but a beginning, with the opportunity to remain proficient through continuing professional education (CPE). The ASMC requirement of 80 CPE credits every two years helps to ensure that the Defense financial management community maintains a workforce that changes with the missions and organizations it supports.

As reflected in the faces of the CDFM recipients at the ASMC's most recent Professional Development Institute-and the stories shared in their journey to certification--the CDFM is a significant milestone accomplishment in their financial management careers, one that becomes even more meaningful as time passes.

Douglas M. Vargas is a senior financial manager with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Bethesda, Maryland. Previous assignments include assistant professor at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, and comptroller assignments with the United States Army in Hawaii and Washington, D.C. He holds a B.S. degree from the USMA and an M.S. degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He is a graduate of the Professional Military Comptrollers School and is a Certified Defense Financial Manager.
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Title Annotation:Certified Defense Financial Manager
Author:Vargas, Douglas M.
Publication:Armed Forces Comptroller
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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