DOD Readies Financial Managers to Meet Goals
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2011 Recognizing the importance of people in its financial management improvements, the Defense Department is exploring new ways to recruit, retain and train its financial management workforce, a senior defense official told Congress today.
Maintaining a capable financial management workforce is a priority in Pentagon Comptroller Robert F. Hale’s financial management strategy, Sandra A. Gregory told the House Armed Services Committee’s Defense Financial Management and Auditability Reform Panel.
Gregory, a retired Air Force brigadier general who served as the Air Force’s director of budget operations and personnel, is special assistant to Hale. She joined representatives of the Army, Navy and Air Force comptrollers to discuss ways DOD is working to ensure its workforce is positioned to achieve the financial improvement goals.
About 60,000 civilian and military financial managers within DOD are key players in efforts to improve financial information, analytics and decision support within the department and to achieve audit readiness, Gregory told the panel.
“It is essentially a matter of getting and retaining the right people with the right skills, in the right jobs, at the right time,” she said.
The financial management workforce has a direct role in supporting warfighters with the resources and financial services they need to meet national security objectives, Gregory told the panel. While the workforce is accomplishing this key goal despite “daunting obstacles” posed by myriad ongoing military requirements at home and abroad, she added, DOD recognizes the need to better posture it for the future.
For example, financial management functions have become more streamlined and automated, she said. As a result, the workforce behind them has transitioned from transaction-based processors to business advisors and leaders.
Keeping pace with this change requires new approaches to recruitment, retention and professional development, as well as strategic workforce planning, Gregory said.
Among initiatives being advanced is a new DOD financial management certification program. This plan, Gregory explained, will provide “enterprisewide roadmaps on what training is most important at various points throughout federal careers.”
By next summer, DOD officials plan to code financial management positions to three different certification levels, she said. From that point, the department will develop competency assessment tools to assess the current workforce’s proficiency, identify gaps and develop plans to close those gaps.
“All of DOD’s efforts are focused on the deliberate professional development of the financial management workforce,” Gregory said. “Ensuring the financial management community has a broad, enterprise-wide perspective and standard body of knowledge throughout the department is key to overall financial management workforce readiness.”