What will $2 million buy in new ideas?
When the Honorable Robert F. Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) (USD(C)), announced the Challenge Fund initiative at the American Society of Military Comptrollers Professional Development Institute on May 27, 2009, he had in mind that $2 million could buy exciting and innovative training methods to increase the competencies of the 50,000-strong financial management (FM) workforce. He challenged members of the Department of Defense (DoD) FM community to consider innovative approaches and new technology in designing ideas to promote professional development across the FM workforce. He urged members of the FM community to create new professional development opportunities that address competencies, training, and technological issues that would serve to strengthen the DoD FM workforce. At its core, the goal of the Challenge Fund was to bring the best and brightest ideas to fruition.
The ground rules for the Challenge Fund initiative required competitors to build their proposals around one or more of the following themes:
* Building analytical skills
* Creating and promoting nontraditional learning opportunities, especially some that might appeal to younger, techsavvy professionals
* Creating and promoting life-long learning opportunities
* Promoting FM expeditionary workforce capabilities
* Encouraging a greater cost consciousness
Proposals were accepted online between July and October 2009. When the online application process closed, 82 proposals had been submitted. The proposals included virtual learning, online courses, deployment communities of practice, virtual mentoring, competency management, social networking, webinars and webcasts, electronic catalogs of courses and professional development opportunities, online libraries, online regulation navigation, and knowledge management technology.
Each of the 82 proposals submitted was evaluated by a team of seven judges selected from across the FM community. The criteria used to assess each proposal included scalability (that is, ability for the project to be used across the Department), innovative use of technology, and sustainability of the project. Additionally, the projects had to be executable during fiscal year (FY) 2010. After all votes were tallied, five proposals were selected as finalists for the FY 2010 Challenge, with a total dollar value of approximately $2 million. The following projects will be executed under the auspices of the FY 2010 Challenge Fund:
* FM iLearn-Colonel Chip Fulghum, U.S. Air Force
* The ERP Effect-Christina Beagle Krizek, Defense Finance and Accounting Service-Indianapolis
* Knowledge Management Training-Steven Turley, Defense Logistics Agency
* Online Fiscal Law Refresher Training-Helen Rosen, U.S. Navy
* Financial Management Videos on Demand-William Fast, Defense Acquisition University
Following is a synopsis of each winning proposal.
Colonel Chip Fulghum, U.S. Air Force
Develop and field a multipurpose website for the DoD workforce that will serve as an online catalog of professional training opportunities for financial management personnel and will support career-long learning objectives.
Capitalizing on the mission of the U.S. Air Force's Air Education and Training Command (AETC)--which is charged with delivering air, space, and cyberspace education and training to develop America's Airmen--Colonel Chip Fulghum and his team proposed to build an online catalog of training opportunities accessible by and for the DoD FM workforce. The AETC team understood certain deficiencies: the myriad organizations that contribute to professional learning, growth, and development of the DoD FM workforce often operate in "silos" with numerous providers offering courses in many locations; the FM learning enterprise is not well known by FM people; a lack of awareness of learning opportunities inhibits personnel from engaging in the right training at the right time to develop critical competencies...