Coast Guard Service Day: Strengthening Partnerships, Procedures, and Business Practices.

Author:Steele, Christopher L.
 
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The American Society of Military Comptroller's Professional Development Institute (PDI) 2019's Service Day marked an invaluable opportunity for nearly 70 Coast Guard financial managers, including the organization's Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Deputy CFO, and numerous senior military and civilian leaders to take a step back from the daily routine and connect, collaborate, and share best practices.

Morning Session

Throughout the day, this dynamic group got up to speed in areas of financial management perhaps not otherwise openly discussed on a day-to-day basis. A number of ongoing strategic initiatives and projects influencing and involving the fleet and the future of financial management were discussed, and included the state of the Coast Guard financial management, lessons learned from the recent lapse in appropriations, Business Processing Re-engineering (BPR), and many other topics. The diverse reach of Coast Guard participants included members throughout the Continental United States, and even Alaska and Hawaii.

Albeit a small organization covering a vast array of geographic dispersed units, the Coast Guard epitomizes the image of efficient stewards of constrained topline budgets and competing requirements. We serve as one of the five branches of the Armed Forces, operate as America's oldest continuous seagoing service, and carry out 11 statutory missions. Attendees of Service Day discussed current practices used in the fleet, collaborated and leveraged information with each other, and brought up questions about future initiatives. After reflecting over Service Day and the totality of PDI, to include mini-sessions and speakers, the Coast Guard definitely remains "mission focused," and living up or our Service motto of "Semper Paratus," or "Always Ready." Our Service is supported by leadership in the right places, and committed to operating under Commandant Karl Schultz's priorities of Ready, Relevant, and Responsive. Although we may continue to be challenged by budgets that must account for competing National demands, the organization continues to find ways to improve by providing individuals working at the deck plate, up through senior leadership with more powerful tools, capabilities, and structure. This will enable users to work more effectively and efficiently, increase accountability and credibility, and ultimately enable us to present quality data with confidence.

Welcome and State of the Coast Guard Financial Management

The morning session began with a welcome and State of Coast Guard Financial Management, presented by Rear Admiral (RDML) Thomas G. Allan, Jr., the Assistant Commandant for Resources and Chief Financial Officer, and Mr. Craig A. Bennett, Deputy Assistant Commandant for Resources and Deputy Chief Financial Officer. In an operating environment surrounded by growing deficits, RDML Allan remained candid and transparent, and noted that "flat is the new up." While the Coast Guard is one of three Department of Homeland Security (DHS) components to receive more funding this year, the need to perform more efficiently demands a new way of thinking, that focuses on managing the base and making "risk informed" decisions.

Looking ahead, RDML Allan noted that financial management teams' Service wide either must lead from the front to make change and provide the necessary information for commanders to implement, or support recommended changes. As the Coast Guard has supported DHS's sixth consecutive unmodified financial statement audit opinion, we talk about the audit less frequently. RDML Allan reminded the group that audits are still important, and the Coast Guard still has work to do to remediate remaining internal control material weaknesses in Financial Reporting and Information Technology Controls/Financial Systems. Additionally, while the organization has seen small increases to funding, the reality is that cuts should be anticipated where relevant, such as in the case of travel given the investment in technology...

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