Financial Management:

Training of DOD Financial Managers Could Be Enhanced

AIMD-98-126: Published: Jun 24, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 1998.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the lessons learned from the results of its survey of selected large state governments and private-sector corporations that the Department of Defense (DOD) could use to augment its existing plans to upgrade the competencies of its key financial managers.

GAO noted that: (1) a key lesson learned from its survey data is that many state government and private-sector organizations place a strong emphasis on training as a means of upgrading workforce knowledge of current financial management, accounting, and reporting requirements; (2) on average, key financial managers in the surveyed large state governments and private-sector organizations received 31 hours and 26 hours of training, respectively, in 1996--most of which was in technical accounting subjects; (3) some of the surveyed organizations had established training requirements for their financial personnel; (4) also, several organizations noted that their programs were designed, in part, in recognition of the training requirements that existed for employees holding professional certifications; (5) these approaches may be useful to DOD in addressing its financial management problems; (6) over half of the key DOD financial managers GAO surveyed--who all held leadership positions throughout DOD's network of financial organizations--had received no financial- or accounting-related training during 1995 and 1996; (7) these key personnel face the challenge of leading DOD's efforts to produce reliable financial data: (a) throughout a large complex DOD organization with acknowledged difficult financial deficiencies; and (b) that build upon existing requirements to include recent, more comprehensive accounting standards and federal financial management system requirements; (8) in addition, full implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act will require DOD financial personnel to provide information on cost data associated with DOD's program results; (9) technical financial- and accounting-related training to supplement on-the-job experiences of DOD's key financial managers is critical to ensuring that such accurate financial data are available; (10) the Secretary of Defense has stated in a recent major reform initiative that while the department is a world-class organization, it is rendering second-rate education, training, and professional development to its civilian employees; (11) moreover, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is developing a plan intended to identify the kinds of skills and developmental activities DFAS financial personnel need to improve their competencies; and (12) in addition, DOD has not yet established a departmentwide focus with accountability to ensure that efforts to improve DOD's financial managers' training are effectively coordinated with the Secretary's broader training reform initiative.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department's January 2001 Financial Management Improvement Plan incorporates a competency-based career development program (CDP) for DFAS financial management personnel. The DFAS CDP covers all professional financial management positions from entry through executive levels and includes technical, professional, and leadership competencies, training and educational requirements, and developmental activities by series and grade. As part of the CDB, all DFAS financial management personnel are required to develop an individual development plan (IDP). These required IDPs are to be used to guide individual achievement of identified competencies. These IDPS are also to be used to identify learning objectives; training, education, and certification requirements; job assignments; and self-development initiatives--both for employees' current and future positions in the organization.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Director, DFAS, modify the DFAS Financial Management Career Development Plan to include procedures to ensure that both new hires and current financial management staff attain relevant competencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department's January 2001 Financial Management Improvement Plan incorporates a competency-based career development program (CDP) for DFAS financial management personnel. The DFAS CDP covers all professional financial management positions from entry through executive levels and includes technical, professional, and leadership competencies, training and educational requirements, and developmental activities by series and grade. DFAS reports developing a training program that supports requirements outlined in the CDP. DFAS reports using a contractor to develop, deliver, and maintain a curriculum involving 160 courses covering financial management regulations, policies, processes, and procedures. DFAS also reports that it plans to provide this training to several thousand of its employees over the next 5 years. This training is aimed at enhancing participants' knowledge of financial management and can then be used to prepare for a standardized exam to obtain a professional certification.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Director, DFAS, modify the DFAS Financial Management Career Development Plan to include a specific curriculum that provides a linkage between general courses and/or subject areas to specific training courses that can be used to attain an identified competency.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department's January 2001 Financial Management Improvement Plan incorporates a competency-based career development program (CDP) for DFAS financial management personnel. The DFAS CDP covers all professional financial management positions from entry through executive levels and includes technical, professional, and leadership competencies, training and educational requirements, and developmental activities by series and grade. The objective of DFAS CDP is to develop a DFAS workforce that is knowledgeable of applicable laws and regulatory requirements through a standardized comprehensive list of competencies. The DFAS CDP competencies build on JFMIP and CFO Council competency guidance and were developed and implemented in consultation with OPM.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Director, DFAS, modify the DFAS Financial Management Career Development Plan to include key competencies associated with knowledge of accounting concepts, such as the Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Standards, and Joint Financial Management Improvement Program's systems requirements for all DOD financial management job series.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department's January 2001 Financial Management Improvement Plan incorporates a competency-based career development program (CDP) for DFAS financial management personnel. The DFAS CDP covers all professional financial management positions from entry through executive levels and includes technical, professional, and leadership competencies, training and educational requirements, and developmental activities by series and grade. As part of the CDB, DFAS established a Professional and Leadership Certification Program that is designed to ensure that DFAS personnel in the program receive the necessary training and development required for their positions. The Professional and Leadership Certification Program has a requirement that participating personnel obtain 80 hours of CPE every 2 years. In addition, DFAS strongly encourages professional certifications--such as a Certified Public Accountant which have annual CPE requirements. DFAS has established a Financial Management Network of seminars and training courses to provide required annual CPEs to its employees.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Director, DFAS, modify the DFAS Financial Management Career Development Plan to include minimum annual training requirements, the majority of which should be in technical accounting or related financial management training courses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As enumerated in the Department's January 2001 Financial Management Improvement Plan, DFAS, as well as the military services, have a wide variety of training programs to ensure that comptroller and financial management personnel have the necessary education and technical competencies to perform their duties. In coordination with DOD's Chancellor for Education, as part of this program, each of the DOD components arrange for the training necessary for their financial management personnel to be skilled in their particular duties and functions. For example, DFAS has established a model competency-based career development program (CDP) for its financial management personnel. In addition, the Air Force issued guidelines for the professional development of its financial managers covering continuing professional education, general education, professional and military education, experience, and test-based certifications. The guidelines call for those in designated positions to obtain 80 hours of CPEs every two years, with at least 20 hours in each year.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) develop and implement a formalized, structured training program for financial management personnel throughout the department that takes into account the DFAS Financial Management Career Development Plan and those initiatives that are either under way or planned in the military services. This program should be developed in conjunction with the DOD Chancellor for Education and Professional Development.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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