The CFO Agenda: Delivering value from financial transparency and audit efforts in the public and private sector

Monday - 6/23/2014, 3:57pm EDT





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Two dates are etched in minds of Defense Department officials--September 30, 2014 and 2017.

Those are the two dates by which DoD and all of its services and agencies must first achieve audit readiness of the Statement of Budgetary Resources (SBR), and the second, 2017, is when they must achieve full audit readiness.

DoD is mobilizing toward both of these goals in only the way it can--by bringing people, resources and focus to these efforts.

And to be brutally honest, it's not going to be easy and many experts say will not be possible.

So just how much those experts really know? And even at the very least improving its financial processes would give DoD a better understanding and improve how it tracks its money.

DoD's effort actually goes back to 2005 when it first issued the Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness or FIAR Plan. It updated that strategy in 2009 and then in December 2011, then-Secretary Leon Panetta "directed the department to accelerate key elements of the FIAR Plan and place greater emphasis on the overall effort. The Secretary's memorandum also directed DoD components to revise their Financial Improvement Plans to incorporate the accelerated date of 2014 for the statement of budgetary resources."

So what's the latest: There is progress being made. The Marine Corps achieved audit readiness and received and a full unqualified opinion in 2012 and DoD officials said earlier this year, they expect the 2013 results to be the same. Along with the Marines, nine other DoD agencies made significant progress in 2012, including the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

As for the big three, a March 2014 issue of Audit Readiness News, produced by the DoD CFO, says as of Feb. 28, the Navy is ahead of the pack already completing 7 of 10 milestones to achieve Statement of Budgetary Resources, while the Army and Air Force have met 3 of 10 milestones. They still have a long way to go by September.

BoB Hale, who recently retired as DoD's CFO, brought focus, honesty and discipline to these goals. The Senate confirmed Mike McCord as the new undersecretary of Defense, comptroller and CFO, in early June to replace Hale.

McCord has big shoes to fill and is walking into a job where a lot of people in Congress and out are paying close attention to DoD's budget as well as the audit readiness effort.

Moderator

Jason Miller, Federal News Radio

Jason Miller is an executive editor and reporter with Federal News Radio. As executive editor, Jason helps direct the news coverage of the station and works with reporters to ensure a broad range of coverage of federal technology, procurement, finance and human resource news.As a reporter, Jason focuses mainly on technology and procurement issues, including cybersecurity, e-government and acquisition policies and programs

Panelists

Doug Bennett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Operations, Office of the Secretary for Financial Management and Comptroller, Air Force

Doug Bennett, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Operations, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Management and Comptroller, Washington, D.C. Mr. Bennett is the principal adviser to the Assistant Secretary and the Air Force senior staff on all issues involving the amended Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and related financial management reforms. He is responsible at the executive level for ensuring the Air Force complies with legislative and executive financial management mandates leading to the effective and efficient use of Air Force resources. Additionally, he is responsible for management of human resources and technology solutions for Air Force financial management.

Charlie Cook, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller)

Mr. Charles E. Cook III, is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) and began serving in this position in September 2011. In this capacity he assists in the oversight of budget formulation and execution, financial reporting, and cost estimating for the Department of the Navy.

James Watkins, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Operations)

Mr. Watkins assumed his current position in August, 2012 following his service as the Director of Accountability and Audit Readiness. He is responsible for Army policies, programs, systems, and procedures pertaining to finance and accounting activities and operations, Army financial management systems and data integration activities, Army programs for internal control, internal review and audit compliance, the Army Travel Charge Card program, fraud, waste and abuse, and other management evaluation activities. Financial operations programs encompass approximately 15,000 military and civilian U.S. employees worldwide (plus several hundred more foreign nationals), annual operating budgets exceeding $200 billion distributed to more than 1,000 Army-wide fund holders, and net assets exceeding $260 billion. Mr. Watkins provides advice and guidance on financial accountability, audit readiness and finance operations to senior members of the Army staff, administers a departmental-level quality assurance program, develops financial improvement program milestones, and serves as the focal point for all financial compliance and accounting issues, including follow-up activities for the General Accounting Office (GAO), DoD Inspector General and Army Audit Agency audit reports related to financial management operations.

Joe Quinn, Senior Manager in the Advisory Services Practice, Ernst & Young LLP

Joe Quinn is a Senior Manager in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP. Mr. Quinn advises Federal Government clients on strategies to improve financial, accounting, and cost management capabilities.