Questions many members of the Army Audit Readiness team hear are "Why is being auditable so Important to the Army, and how on earth would an entire Service component even prepare for it?" The responses historically tended to be mired in acronyms and technical accounting jargon that did little to explain the plan or rationale.
Realizing the importance of communicating the Army's plan succinctly to stakeholders--both inside and outside of the Army--we decided to use the analogy of training to run your first marathon as a framework for describing the Army's auditability strategy.
Like many of our colleagues in the Army, we love physical challenges and often decide to take on the challenge of running a marathon. To prepare for this grueling task, a runner normally starts by setting a reasonable time goal, finding a training plan that fits his or her schedule, laying out a calendar to eliminate conflicts, sticking to the plan through the peaks and valleys, and eventually executing the training plan on race day. Developing a strategy to accomplish such a large undertaking, whether it's a marathon or the Army becoming audit compliant, requires foresight, preparation, vision and perseverance. This is exactly the approach the Army has taken and it has facilitated a systematic method of preparatory steps--designed to get to the starting line--knowing we have adequately prepared for and tested the Army's financial business processes to the point that it will be ready for the rigorous challenges of a financial statement audit.
As with any Army operation, planners start with the desired outcome and work backward. Several years ago, with this in mind, the Army started its planning efforts with a commitment to achieving audit readiness by September 30, 2017. This date was legislated by the Congress with an Interim goal initially set by the Secretary of Defense to present an auditable General Fund Schedule of Budgetary Activity (SBA) or compilation of current year, current appropriation financial transaction activity, by 30 September 2014. We have accepted this recent date as our "starting line."
Through a detailed and comprehensive planning process, the Army developed interim milestones to mark achievements and, as well, allowed for the alignment of existing financial systems with the deployment of newly integrated systems. Not only is the Army taking on the challenge of becoming auditable, it simultaneously is undergoing significant changes with respect...