The Key to Effective Financial Management at DoD: A Well-Trained Workforce
In an era of constrained Federal budgets, the Department of Defense (DoD) faces increased scrutiny into how it spends and accounts for the large financial resources it utilizes to defend our nation. A major challenge for DoD has been achieving auditable financial statements. The DoD remains the sole cabinet level agency to have not received at least a qualified opinion on its financial statements from an independent outside auditor.
Although it has a goal to achieve full audit readiness for all DoD financial statements by 2017, the Department has some way to go to achieving full audit readiness, as an organization-wide audit has yet to take place.
Despite the many challenges ahead, the DoD has taken many positive steps towards meeting its goal, and one of the most critically important of these is the increased investment in the financial management workforce.
The Department understands that one of its greatest assets is its people and that it will need to provide them with the necessary tools and knowledge to reach audit readiness. Achieving audit readiness requires a competent financial management workforce that can implement policies to ensure financial operations allow for auditability. Not only must financial resources be accounted for accurately, the DoD must also be able to provide reasonable assurance to auditors that it has done so. Having a wider understanding of auditor’s requirements will increase the likelihood of future successful audits.
There are many additional benefits to a well-trained workforce, other than helping with audit readiness, including decreases in fraud, waste and abuse, as well as higher employee satisfaction and retention.
The launch of the DoD FM Certification Program is a result of the focus on improving the skills of the financial management workforce. After a period of planning and pilots, the program has fully launched in the summer of 2014. The certification program has three levels, which the level required for each person is dependent upon their job grade. To achieve their level of certification an individual must complete a range of courses that map to a comprehensive framework of competencies, as well as meet other requirements such as years of experience. The competencies are designed to address the needs of the specific functions within the FM community including accountants, budget analysts, finance and military and civilian pay.
To facilitate the certification training process, Management Concepts has designed an online tool, FM Connect, which shows users exactly what courses they need to fill their certification training gaps.
Overall, The DoD and its workforce stand to see many benefits from the new certification program and focus on financial management training.