“You are part of the sustainment community and the AMC family, and I am really excited at the way you are approaching and operationalizing your efforts,” said Gen. Edward Daly, U.S. Army Materiel Command commanding general, during his first visit to the U.S. Army Financial Management Command in Indianapolis Nov. 20.
“It’s having and will have huge impacts on Soldiers and their families,” added Daly, who was joined on the visit by Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado, AMC senior enlisted advisor.
During their trip, AMC’s senior military leaders received their first in-person quarterly update from Brig. Gen. Mark S. Bennett, USAFMCOM commanding general, and several other USAFMCOM leaders and subject matter experts.
The update covered a variety of topics, ranging from internal initiatives to external operations impacting Soldiers, civilians and their families around the globe.
“It’s all about operational effects at the tactical points of contact, whether it’s in [the Continental United States] or forward deployed in the battlespace,” said Daly about USAFMCOM’s efforts since becoming a part of AMC last year. “You really run the spectrum, not just in the strategic support areas, but in terms of technical training of units as they deploy.
“There’s a natural integration between you and the other subordinate commands that you’ve exploited very well, and you see a couple of terrain features ahead,” he continued. “That’s not intuitively obvious sometimes, but to you all, it appears that it’s second nature.”
The first major topic discussed in the update was Project Inclusion, the Army’s focused effort to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
“We want diversity at echelon, at all levels because it builds better organizations and better teams, and it allows us to build and sustain the Army ethic,” said Daly. “The more diverse the organization, the better it performs.”
He then applauded USAFMCOM’s efforts in approaching tough topics with diversity and encouraged employees to become comfortable with talking about things that are sometimes uncomfortable.
“It’s about people first, with diversity and inclusion, and if you get that right, everything else becomes exponentially easier,” Daly added. “People are our most important and precious commodity.”
In a related topic, AMC’s leaders discussed the importance of mentorship in building diversity.
“Mentor people with potential, not just people who look, talk and act like you,” said Daly.
“If you have only one mentor, you have only one perspective,” echoed Delgado talking to the junior employees present. “You have to cast your net wider in looking for mentors to get a complete perspective.”
The next focus of the update centered on a recent transition of the Army’s military pay mission from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service back to the Army and USAFMCOM in October.
Eric Reid, USAFMCOM Military Pay Operations director, reported that the command successfully transitioned more than 900 employees at 49 locations and was working on finishing up residual transfer functions such as performance and training management systems and property book transfers.
“You meticulously worked to be transparent with the field,” lauded Daly while praising USAFMCOM for keeping AMPO employees as its number one priority.
Bennett then took the opportunity to thank the entire AMC team for their efforts in providing the, “right things at the right time,” during the transition.
A major breakthrough of the update followed shortly when AMC was briefed on the use of DFAS’ Smart Vouchers to help Soldiers file their permanent change of station travel vouchers more quickly and accurately, which cuts down on rejections and rework.
“[Smart Vouchers are] a game changer,” said Daly. “If we care about people, which we do, we need to make sure they are paid on time.
“It’s household goods, it’s availability to quality homes, and it’s money in your pocket,” he elaborated. “If we can do those three things right, then it’s a grand-slam experience and people don’t get frustrated about the Army.”
USAFMCOM is now working with the U.S. Army Installation Management Command to explore opening up the Smart Voucher process to Soldiers at as many installations as possible.
Next, the update transitioned to a discussion about unmatched transactions, which then led into a conversation on the recent completion of USAFMCOM’s business process standardization mission.
The command’s Business Process Management division recently completed a three-year mission of documenting and standardizing all of the Army’s business processes impacting financial statements.
Those standards included seven major end-to-end business processes, encompassing 415 sub-processes, and they are all now housed in an innovative, one-stop collaboration tool called the Army Process Portal (APP), which provides both auditors and end users with interactive process maps with increasing granularity said Chris Reynolds, BPM director.
Moving forward, the BPM team briefed AMC leadership they were moving on to sustainment of the processes and supporting Enterprise Business System Conversion.
“This is great news,” said Lisha Adams, AMC executive deputy to the commanding general, who joined the update over video teleconference. “Standard processes are what we needed in order to be sure that we are auditable, and now we have to make sure people are following the processes.”
“We are doing just that, but we don’t want to add to what the auditors are doing, so we are using their samples to ensure compliance,” agreed Reynolds. “We also have a training effort on the APP for the commands and the auditors so the end user and the auditors both understand their roles.”
Rounding out the update, Maj. Ben Ecklor, USAFMCOM Operational Support Team director, briefed AMC on his team’s efforts to continue to train and assess finance and comptroller units from all three Army components in the pandemic environment.
"The biggest issue we see in the formations is the lack of operational technical expertise and training with cash disbursing, which the [financial management support units] and [financial management support detachments] are not executing at home station,” said Ecklor.
“You’re either doing disbursing activities or you’re not, and the only time you’re doing it is when you’re downrange getting reps,” said Daly as he recalled the same issue years ago when he was a brigade commander.
That portion of the briefing wrapped up with Ecklor receiving direction to work on a comprehensive solution to get junior officers more realistic training to improve disbursing operations.
On top of the praise bestowed on the command during the update, Daly and Delgado recognized five USAFMCOM employees for their stellar performance in the following areas:
- Audrey Lee volunteered to lead the command’s diversity and inclusion working group and was recognized for her innovative approach to bridging communication barriers through a new spotlight program;
- Darnell Tisby coordinated the release of a contract and vendor pay process standard to aid in user efficiency;
- Mike LaMonica improved the financial and audit posture for the Global Combat Support System – Army;
- Trima Lundquist led a cloud migration, user-experience survey for GFEBS in fiscal year 2020; and
- Richard Baughman remediated financial reporting with fiscal year 2021 audit findings Dedicated Collection and Distributed Offsetting Receipts Funds.
“You’re leaning forward in so many areas, going the next step and making a difference,” Daly said to those receiving recognition.
“You have to understand my intent and be empowered to go forth and do great things, and you have a team of professionals here to do just that,” he continued. “You’ve got a great team here, and I appreciate what every one of you is doing here. It’s spectacular work.”