Editor’s note: This is first in a series of articles on finance.
Air Force financial managers take pride in executing the ABCs — accounting, budget and cost. Accounting is the first, and arguably, the most important competency.
Did you know the Air Force prepares annual financial statements just like civilian companies? These financial statements are available to the public at http://comptroller.defense.gov.
Every September financial managers, contracting professionals, resource advisors and Air Force leaders work in haste to ensure every available dollar is spent wisely to meet the mission needs; however, we often allow this focus of fiscal year end close-out distract us from the real mission behind Sept. 30.
As the chief financial officer (AKA comptroller) of Luke Air Force Base, one of my responsibilities is to ensure the accounting database is complete, concise, accurate and auditable. After the Sept. 30 drills of spending every available dollar, the financial managers in the 56th CPTS continue to work for the next three to four days to ensure every single transaction is properly and accurately detailed in the accounting system. These professionals chase thousands of documents to ensure every dollar spent is aligned to the proper general accounting ledger in our system. In other words, we strive to ensure the taxpayer knows when Luke Air Force Base reports we spent $2,000 on a temporary duty assignment that the $2,000 actually was spent on the TDY. We strive to produce accurate and reliable financial statements.
Accurate financial statements are crucial to the other two competencies of financial management — budgeting and cost. Without accurate financial statements, budgeteers cannot accurately request Congress to provide a budget which will meet the mission needs. If we don’t know how we really spent last year’s dollars, how can we possibly make a credible argument when we ask for next year’s dollars? Similarly, cost estimaters rely on sound accounting data when building their cost estimates. And, perhaps more importantly, the American taxpayers depend on the data in our financial systems to stay informed on how the country is spending their hard earned dollars. Needless to say, the old saying of “garbage in, garbage out” truly applies in the world of Air Force accounting.
As I prepare to certify the 56th Fighter Wing’s and tenant units fiscal 2012 accounting statements (in our world titled the “DBT”), I find myself reflecting more and more on how important the three to four days after Sept. 30 truly are. The past several years have been met with tough economic times for millions of American citizens, and the importance of providing these people with the most accurate data possible weighs heavy on my shoulders.
So, here goes. “I, to the best of my knowledge, certify the accounting database at Luke Air Force properly and accurately reflects all transactions as it properly should.” Signed, Maj. Jessi R. Rozman