Robins fiscal 2007 closeout a success for 78th CPTS

  • Published
  • By Holly Birchfield
  • 78th ABW/PA
It took months to prepare for the closeout of fiscal 2007, and Lt. Col. Kevin Smagh, 78th Comptroller Squadron commander, said the base's financial workers and those in supporting roles couldn't have done a better job.

About 300 financial employees and others in contracting, civil engineering, and supply areas throughout the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center worked late hours to execute funds in the Center's $7.4 billion budget for fiscal 2007. About 40 additional employees worked toward the goal of final closeout for Thursday.

Midnight Sept. 30 marked the final opportunity for execution of funds for the fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 each year. The official closeout of accounting records took place Thursday.

Elaine Shuttlesworth, chief of the Financial Analysis Flight in the 78th CPTS who also serves as the 78th CPTS deputy comptroller, said Robins' accountants had four days past the Sept. 30 deadline to ensure that transactions were posted correctly and any necessary adjustments were made.

The final validation of closeout information was sent to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Columbus, Ohio, and to Air Force Materiel Command's Financial Management headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio, Thursday.

Ms. Shuttlesworth said the Center as a whole processed more than 90,000 transactions during the fiscal year.

Colonel Smagh, who has headed the 78th CPTS since June 2006, said the base got an early start in preparing for closeout this year, with meetings about the closeout starting as early as July.

Mrs. Shuttlesworth said the funding to account for was much larger than last year's.

"At last year's closeout, we closed out records on $6.8 billion," she said. "This year's was up $600 million more."

Colonel Smagh said the change is due in part to the Air Force, addressing the maintenance and repair missions at the Center as well as facility and communications infrastructures making up the bulk of projects funded in fiscal 2007.

Colonel Smagh said Robins' financial metrics were rated as number one in AFMC, up from placing last out of 11 last year.

Colonel Smagh said this rating translates into how well the base is providing quality inputs into the accounting system as well as improved pay services.

The colonel said all wings at Robins have increased their compliance with Air Force policies and have been able to provide greater efficiency in the accounting processes.

Colonel Smagh said the measures of effectiveness for the comptroller squadron are a reflection of the Center as a whole.

The colonel said financial effectiveness equals greater support for the mission.

Although Robins earned high marks at command-level, Colonel Smagh said interest penalties remain a challenge for the base.

"One area that remains a challenge is in the interest penalties for Robins as a whole, which is a measure of how fast we pay vendors," he said. "It is dependent on our use of the wide-area workflow system, and support of DFAS to expedite those payments."

Colonel Smagh said the base isn't at the rate it wants to be at paying vendors in a timely manner.

While such challenges remain, Maria Gordon, chief of the Financial Analysis Section in the 78th CPTS' Financial Analysis Flight, said she thinks Robins has made some good changes with closeout based on prior experience.

One such change involved implementing a team-based approach to handling each organization's open document listing, a list of transactions that are in the process of completing, but not yet done. Each team sends their ODL to their counterparts so that they know what documents they have open and what documents need to be closed and taken off of the books.

Mrs. Gordon said the new process, which has been implemented Air Force-wide as part of FM's transformation, helped the base reduce the number of documents on the books this year, and provides greater decision support to commanders by keeping the books cleaned up more efficiently.

The new team approach coupled with the base's early preparation for closeout set them up for a more successful closeout, Mrs. Gordon said.

Colonel Smagh said Robins' closeout was something to be proud of.

"I was not surprised, but I was absolutely pleased with the way the financial management professionals stepped up and was very proactive about what we knew was inevitable," he said. "The end of the fiscal year was coming and so taking a proactive approach and planning for closeout and then beginning the execution of closeout in the June, July timeframe really helped our organization to be able to provide service to the Center. Robins as a whole including our partners in contracting, with the support of the ALC Financial Management and Procurement folks, have improved this process considerably."

The colonel said there were many people who made a difference in this year's closeout.

"I think that what you find every year is that the people change; the mission continues to challenge us; and you find new heroes step up to the challenge, which is one of the things that's really great about our Air Force. Somebody is always there to rise up to the challenge, and we saw that again this year. I'm just very proud of the folks."