BY MC2 STACY M. ATKINS RICKS, PUBLIC AFFAIRS U.S. FLEET FORCES
Money management for the average household can be tough. Now let’s multiply that task to the scale of managing the Navy’s wallet. The U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Financial Improvement Audit Readiness (FIAR) team at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads is familiar with that task and is responsible for keeping the fleet financially fit.
Fresh off of receiving two awards from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy Financial Management and Comptroller (ASN FM&C) June 7, the USFF comptroller department has collectively set their sights on maintaining and exceeding standards for their portions of the fleet’s financial readiness. Members of the department recently earned wins in the 2016 Best Internal Controls Program and Best Timely Object Class Reporting categories of the ASN FM&C awards. The awards are designed to recognize outstanding achievements in financial management endeavors supporting cost reduction, process improvements, accuracy, timeliness and customer service. The awards are an accomplishment leaders say are a group effort. “Our team worked together, both government and with contractor support, testing and quality checking internal controls,” said Lt. Cmdr. Vincent Ambrosino, FIAR lead. The department is responsible for budget implementation and economic policy for USFF and the Atlantic Fleet. The team is also accountable for tracking and reporting fund allocation. At any given moment, the team must be able to show how each dollar is spent and ensure all transactions are accurately documented.
This is a job that entails reviewing and implementing corrective action plans within USFF to reduce errors, performing audit testing for accuracy, and creating guidelines on the control points to be tested. “One of the other benefits to this program is increasing the buying power within the organization,” said Jeff Scott, FIAR manager. “With these internal controls in place, we can readily identify if someone is being financially irresponsible. So, you can easily correct that so that you have funds available to support the various missions of the command.” In 2005, the Department of Defense established a financial operations management program designed to improve business processes and controls to assist with audit preparations across the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps. Ambrosino explained that the program in place today has developed tremendously in many aspects from what was employed 12 years ago; yet, it has one very distinct difference–auditability. “The program had to go through a number of phases to get to where we are today and to be ready for an independent public auditor to come look. The Navy, in our mindset, was always accountable for things, but, really, on paperwork, we were not. While we had accountability, we did not have auditability,” said Ambrosino. “Now that is what FIAR, the comptroller shop, and the commands do, and they are accounting for where every dollar is going.” Leaders emphasized the goal was to not just meet but exceed the standard, and establish a new benchmark through teamwork. “Working together, we designed the program and solicited input from subordinate commands for final design,” said Ambrosino. “The end result has provided this flexible framework. Without our dedicated team and forward thinking by our leadership, this award would not have been possible.” For more news from USFF, please visit, www.public.navy.mil/usff -U.S. Navy graphics by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks/released November/December 2017