The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller hosted a three-day symposium for the sergeants major of the Finance and Comptroller Corps at the Pentagon recently.
The symposium, held March 15 through 17, offered an opportunity for the leaders of OASA (FM&C) to meet with these senior noncommissioned officers, and discuss items such as the Army budget process, financial information systems, the Army audit and workforce development. It also allowed the sergeants major to share their perspectives with leadership.
“We’re discussing the functions that go on here at Headquarters, Department of the Army; how the Army revolves around resources and the disposition of those resources, which falls right in our category as financial managers and comptrollers,” said Sgt. Maj. Larry Hill, 106th Finance Battalion, Kaiserslautern, Germany.
The speakers included the Honorable Caral Spangler, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller; Lt. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, the Military Deputy to the ASA (FM&C); Mr. Michael Ramsey, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Operations and Information); Maj. Gen. Mark Bennett, Director of Army Budget; Mr. Stephen Loftus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Cost and Economics); and Maj. Gen. Karl Gingrich, Director, Program, Analysis and Evaluation, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, United States Army.
“There’s a lot we don’t know as sergeant majors,” said Sgt. Maj. Jennifer Boynton, 82nd Airborne Division Finance Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “This was a great opportunity to get knowledge on the budget and resource management side of things at this level.”
Spangler discussed a variety of current issues, including ongoing efforts related to the Army achieving a favorable audit opinion and how the sergeants major’s influence in the field can make a difference.
“The way of the future is to make sure we are doing things correctly. We need to get the documents right, and post them properly as well,” Spangler said. “So that we are not doing a lot of ‘chasing errors.’”
The Army’s initiative towards an enterprise resource planning systems modernization, Enterprise Business Systems - Convergence, was also discussed. This will not only add efficiencies and aid future audit compliance but will also yield operational and analytical benefits.
“Can everyone see the data, and have a common operating site picture,” said Ramsey. “That’s what we are striving for.”
The sergeants major appreciated receiving updates on initiatives directly from the OASA (FM&C) leaders that are working them, and also recognized important takeaways from the discussions.
“There’s a lot of change happening right now, and it’s important that we’re in the know and can start articulating that,” said Sgt. Maj. Matthew Fermanich, 376th Financial Management Support Unit, U.S. Army Reserve, Wausau, Wisconsin.
“This symposium gets all the sergeant majors across the Finance and Comptroller Corps synchronized,” said Sgt. Maj. Craig Rodland, 125th Finance Battalion, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. “And also makes sure the picture we are painting on what the corps does is in line with our strategic campaign plan all the way down to the lowest level.”
“The symposium allows (the Reserve Components) to have a voice. We are two-thirds of the Finance and Comptroller Corps, so it’s important that we’re represented when decisions are made,” said Fermanich.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston also met with the finance sergeants major during the symposium. He shared with them several real-world examples of Soldier issues that they can affect, emphasizing “you can make an impact every day on Soldier issues,” Grinston said.
“When you find Soldiers who are having an issue with pay, get engaged immediately. I want you to have that sense of urgency.”
This event represented the first time the finance sergeant majors were able to get together as a group in person. This afforded additional benefits as well.
The gathering “gave us an understanding of what each unit within the career management field is doing, share lessons learned, give advice and network,” said Boynton.
“It allowed us to share information, share stories,” said Hill. “It also allowed us to brainstorm the future of the corps.”