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Appropriations Watch: FY 2017

ASMC National News - Fri, 2017-01-06 15:09

The government is being funded by a continuing resolution, which was passed in December 2016, and goes through April 28, 2017. The Senate voted to proceed to debate on a fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget resolution on 4 January 2017. To read the full article and the latest updates please visit the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s blog posting here.

Read the Senate’s budget resolution for FY 2017.

GSA lowers federal mileage reimbursable rates for 2017

ASMC National News - Sat, 2016-12-31 12:50

The General Services Administration (GSA) announced that mileage reimbursement rate for federal employees using privately –owned vehicles during official travel will decrease slightly to 53.5 cents from the current level of 54 cents.  The new rate will go into effect on January 1, 2017. 

Mileage reimbursable rates also decreased for official airplane travel (to $1.15 from $1.17) and motorcycles (to 50.5 cents from 51 cents).

Rates declined due to lower fuel prices that were offset somewhat by increasing insurance and maintenance costs.

GSA annually reviews mileage reimbursement rates for federal employees.  GSA rates cannot exceed the rate set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for calculating business mileage expenses on tax returns.  

2016 Survey of Defense Financial Managers Outlines How Past Lessons Can Position New Administration for Future Success

ASMC National News - Wed, 2016-12-21 08:59

Annual ASMC-Grant Thornton survey offers recommendations for incoming leaders

ALEXANDRIA, Va., December 15, 2016
The American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) and Grant Thornton Public Sector today released their latest survey of defense financial managers, Preparing for the Future: Lessons Learned From 10 Years of ASMC Surveys. The annual survey outlines the top concerns for the military financial management community, as well as recommendations for incoming financial management leadership under the new administration.

Al Runnels, executive director of ASMC, said, “This year’s report contains a retrospective look at trends and key challenges from the past 10 years of survey results and provides recommendations to the new administration in driving continuing improvement in the effectiveness of defense financial management operations.”

“The report provides valuable learnings and recommendations for the new defense financial leadership in 2017, offering a unique opportunity for those leaders to learn from the experiences of their predecessors,” said Ariane Whittemore, director of Security and Defense for Grant Thornton Public Sector. “Although the current environment includes many challenges, there is optimism in the defense financial management community that the new administration will bring opportunities for innovation and improvement.”

The 2016 survey represents responses from more than 500 defense financial managers at all levels. They identified human capital, fiscal uncertainty, auditability and IT modernization as their top concerns. Human capital is consistently the top concern within the defense financial management profession; personnel-related issues were the only concern emerging in every survey since 2007.

The 2016 survey makes the following recommendations for the new administration:

  • Rely on the financial management workforce – seek the advice and counsel of the experienced financial management workforce and include them in the decision-making process.
  • Focus on recruitment, retention and workforce empowerment – recognize that the financial management workforce values benefits, employment stability and job satisfaction.
  • Finish IT modernization – a thorough review of the Defense Department’s IT modernization program is needed, focusing on new programs and zeroing in on legacy systems and targeting them for elimination.
  • Simplify the budget process – investigate ways to lessen the adverse impact of multiple budget builds and duplicative budget processes, which have a negative effect on workforce stability and morale.
  • Show early support for auditability – component audit results should become part of every leader’s performance evaluation, military and civilian alike, and adequate resources (people and budget) should be devoted to the task.

About the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC):
ASMC is the non-profit educational and professional organization for persons, military and civilian, involved in the overall field of military comptrollership. ASMC promotes the education and training of its members, and supports the development and advancement of the profession of military comptrollership. Visit ASMC at www.asmconline.org.

About Grant Thornton Public Sector:
Grant Thornton Public Sector helps executives and managers at all levels of government maximize their performance and efficiency in the face of ever-tightening budgets and increased demand for services. Grant Thornton Public Sector gives clients creative, cost-effective solutions that enhance their acquisition, financial, human capital, information technology, and performance management. For more information, visit www.grantthornton.com/publicsector.

About Grant Thornton LLP
Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton has revenues in excess of $1.6 billion and operates 60 offices with more than 570 partners and more than 8,500 personnel in the United States and at our Shared Services Center in Bangalore, India. Grant Thornton works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions. Please see grantthornton.com for further details.

2016 Survey of Defense Financial Managers Outlines How Past Lessons Can Position New Administration for Future Succes

ASMC National News - Wed, 2016-12-14 14:20

For more information, please contact:
Carling Spelhaug
T 312.754.7394
E carling.spelhaug@us.gt.com

2016 Survey of Defense Financial Managers Outlines How Past Lessons Can Position New Administration for Future Success

Annual ASMC-Grant Thornton survey offers recommendations for incoming leaders

ALEXANDRIA, Va., December 15, 2016—The American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) and Grant Thornton Public Sector today released their latest survey of defense financial managers, Preparing for the Future: Lessons Learned From 10 Years of ASMC Surveys. The annual survey outlines the top concerns for the military financial management community, as well as recommendations for incoming financial management leadership under the new administration.

Al Runnels, executive director of ASMC, said, “This year’s report contains a retrospective look at trends and key challenges from the past 10 years of survey results and provides recommendations to the new administration for driving continuous improvement in the effectiveness of defense financial management operations.”

“The report provides valuable learnings and recommendations for the new defense financial leadership in 2017, offering a unique opportunity for those leaders to learn from the experiences of their predecessors,” said Ariane Whittemore, director of Security and Defense for Grant Thornton Public Sector. “Although the current environment includes many challenges, there is optimism in the defense financial management community that the new administration will bring opportunities for innovation and improvement.”

The 2016 survey represents responses from more than 500 defense financial managers at all levels. They identified human capital, fiscal uncertainty, auditability and IT modernization as their top concerns. Human capital is consistently the top concern within the defense financial management profession; personnel-related issues were the only concern emerging in every survey since 2007.

The 2016 survey makes the following recommendations for the new administration:

  • Rely on the financial management workforce – seek the advice and counsel of the experienced financial management workforce and include them in the decision-making process.
  • Focus on recruitment, retention and workforce empowerment – recognize that the financial management workforce values benefits, employment stability and job satisfaction.
  • Finish IT modernization – a thorough review of the Defense Department’s IT modernization program is needed, focusing on new programs and zeroing in on legacy systems and targeting them for elimination.
  • Simplify the budget process – investigate ways to lessen the adverse impact of multiple budget builds and duplicative budget processes, which have a negative effect on workforce stability and morale.
  • Show early support for auditability – component audit results should become part of every leader’s performance evaluation, military and civilian alike, and adequate resources (people and budget) should be devoted to the task.


About the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC):
ASMC is the non-profit educational and professional organization for persons, military and civilian, involved in the overall field of military comptrollership. ASMC promotes the education and training of its members, and supports the development and advancement of the profession of military comptrollership. Visit ASMC at www.asmconline.org.

About Grant Thornton Public Sector:
Grant Thornton Public Sector helps executives and managers at all levels of government maximize their performance and efficiency in the face of ever-tightening budgets and increased demand for services. Grant Thornton Public Sector gives clients creative, cost-effective solutions that enhance their acquisition, financial, human capital, information technology, and performance management. For more information, visit www.grantthornton.com/publicsector.

About Grant Thornton LLP:
Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton has revenues in excess of $1.6 billion and operates 60 offices with more than 570 partners and more than 8,500 personnel in the United States and at our Shared Services Center in Bangalore, India. Grant Thornton works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations. 

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions. Please see grantthornton.com for further details.

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ASMC is saddened over the loss of one of our own, Dr. John Wayne Matherne

ASMC National News - Wed, 2016-12-14 12:25

We regretfully announce the passing of Dr. John Wayne Matherne. Dr. Matherne was an active ASMC member who strongly believed in the importance of ASMC, and contributed hours of his personal time to the community as a subject matter expert and as an advisory member of the ASMC Certification Commission.

Dr. John Wayne Matherne passed peacefully on December 4, 2016 at the age of 71 surrounded by his loving family, who miss him dearly. John was born on December 8, 1944 in Vivian, Louisiana to Vera and Nolan Matherne. John was a graduate of Franklinton (LA) High School, serving as valedictorian of his 1962 class. John received both his BS (Physics 1966) and Ph.D. (Mathematics 1972) from Louisiana State University. He began his career as an Army Lieutenant and then transitioned into a career Civil Servant supporting both the Air Force and Army. In addition to his Federal Government work John was passionate about education and served as an adjunct professor for the College of William & Mary, and was selected as the 1990-1991 visiting professor of mathematics for the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. In 2005, John retired from the Federal Government as Dean of the Defense Acquisition University, Fort Lee campus. During retirement, John kept himself busy as an independent consultant working with the American Society of Military Comptrollers, SAIC, and the US Army Biometrics Program office. 

Dr. John Wayne Matherne will be greatly missed. 

To read his full obituary, please visit here

President authorizes a 2.1 percent pay raise for federal civilian employees

ASMC National News - Tue, 2016-12-13 17:09

Federal civilian employees will get a pay raise equal to that approved for military personnel.

After the House and Senate agreed on a 2.1 percent military pay raise in the FY2017 Defense Authorization bill, the president was urged by some in Congress and federal labor groups to provide the same raise for federal civilian employees.

President Obama responded by notifying Congress that he intended to reverse the alternative pay plan he announced in August that the combined civilian across-the-board pay raise and locality pay should not exceed 1.6 percent. 

Because the Congress decided to give military personnel a 2.1 percent pay raise, the president told Congress he was changing his original plan.  Under his revised alternative pay plan for federal civilian employees, the combined raise includes a 1.0 across-the-board pay raise and varying locality pay increases that will equal 2.1 percent of basic payroll.

Each year the president is required under Title 5 U.S.C., sections 5303(b) and 5304a, to present an alternative pay plan for across-the-board pay and locality pay adjustments. Because Congress did not act to counteract the president’s alternative proposal, the 2.1 percent pay raise will go into effect automatically in January

Congress extends the FY2017 CR until April 28, 2017

ASMC National News - Sat, 2016-12-10 11:10

Final action on the 11 remaining FY2017 appropriations bills must wait until the new Congress and the new administration take office in January.

With the Dec 9 expiration date for the current continuing resolution (CR) looming, the House voted (326-96) and the Senate went along (63-36) to approve an extension of the CR (H.R. 2028) until April 28, 2016.

There was a bit of late-night drama in the Senate as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and other Senators from coal-producing states threatened to block passage of the bill unless health care benefits for miners were funded for the entire year.  Realizing they did not have the votes to block the bill and not wanting to shut down the government, Sen. Manchin and his supporters relented, vowing to continue the fight in the new Congress.

Commenting on the bill, House Appropriations Committee (HAC) chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) called the CR a “band aid that will give the next Congress the time to complete the annual Appropriations process, and in the meantime take care of immediate national funding needs.”

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) agreed.  “This continuing resolution is not a substitute for full-year appropriations, but it is necessary to sustain the operations of the federal government until we can complete consideration of the remaining FY2017 appropriations bills,”

Rogers cautioned against the idea of using a CR to fund the government for the full year.  “This type of short-term spending should not be the answer to funding the federal government for the year,” he said.  He urged the next Congress to compete work on all remaining FY2017 appropriations bills “to ensure the proper and responsible use of tax dollars, to provide necessary resources for important programs and services, and to hold federal agencies accountable to the American people.”

The CR essentially allows agencies to fund FY2017 programs at the FY2016 level ($1.07 trillion for the total government) for almost five months.  During the CR period an additional $5.8 billion is provided to the Department of Defense (DoD) and $4.3 billion to the State Department of the Agency for International Development (AID) “to support  military and diplomatic efforts to fight ISIS and terror around the globe.”

The bill also includes $4.1 billion for disaster relief needed to respond to Hurricane Matthew, floods, droughts, and other weather-related events.  Of this amount, the Army Corps of Engineers will use $1.025 billion for flood and coastal protection projects and the Federal Highway Emergency Relief program will apply $1 billion for repair of damaged highways.  Community Development Block Grants in the amount of $1.8 billion will be used for recovery and rebuilding efforts for individual home damage caused by severe storms and hurricanes.

An additional $872 million is provided in the bill for “critical medical research, drug approval, and drug abuse efforts. Of this amount, $500 million is provided to states response to the opioid abuse crisis.  The bill also provides $170 million to communities (e.g., Flint, Michigan) affected by drinking water contamination.

In DoD-related activities, the CR includes provisions that allow funding to be used for the Ohio Class Submarine Replacement program, Apache Attack Helicopter and Black Hawk Helicopter multiyear procurements, and the KC-46A Tanker program.

The CR includes provisions preventing a pay increase for Members of Congress, providing $45 million (fully offset) for retired miners covered under the United Mine Workers Association 1993 Benefits Plan, and allowing funding for NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Program.

The bill also provides for an expedited process in the Senate next year for language that would allow retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to be considered for the post of Secretary of Defense.  Mattis, who has been named the as prospective nominee for Secretary of Defense, retired from active service three years ago.  Because current law prohibits such service until a retired officer has been out of the service for seven year, the senate would have to pass a waiver for his nomination to be considered,

President Obama is expected to sing the bill.

ASMC National Awards Program

ASMC National News - Fri, 2016-12-09 14:16

The American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) annually recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of its chapters, membership, and the defense financial management community through its awards program. This program encompasses individual and team achievement awards, scholarships, educational grants, an essay contest, chapter recognition, and a variety of other individual based awards. Awards appear in order of the submission due date. To read the rules for each submission and submit a nomination, visit: https://asmc.nonprofitcms.org/a/Organizations/main/Home

ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Achievement awards are presented annually to individuals and teams who have been nominated for outstanding accomplishment within one of the functional fields of comptrollership. Submissions (including all applicable forms and documentation) for awards in this category are due by no later than January 31, 2017.

  • Accounting Achievement Award
  • Acquisition/Cost Analysis Achievement Award
  • Auditing Achievement Award
  • Budgeting Achievement Award
  • Comptroller/Deputy Comptroller Achievement Award
  • Contractor Support Achievement Award
  • Intern/Trainee Achievement Award
  • Finance Achievement Award
  • Resource Management Achievement Award
  • Small Team Achievement Award
  • Large Team Achievement Award

For information on receiving sample screen shots of individual and team achievement award forms, please visit, https://asmc.nonprofitcms.org/a/Organizations/main/Home

MEMBERSHIP AWARDS (1) – Essay Contest
This award is presented to ASMC members for achievements in authorship. Essays (and all applicable forms and documentation) are due by no later than February 28, 2017. For rules and to submit, please visit  https://asmc.nonprofitcms.org/a/Organizations/main/Home

SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS
Each year, ASMC awards more than $35,000 in scholarships and grants to high school seniors, college students, and ASMC members to provide financial assistance that they may accomplish their financial management related educational goals. Submission (including all applicable forms and documentation) for awards in this category are due by no later than March 31, 2017.

  • High School Scholarships
  • Previous Winner Scholarships
  • Members Continuing Education Grants

For rules and to submit, please visit https://asmc.nonprofitcms.org/a/Organizations/main/Home

CHAPTER AWARDS
There are a number of awards that recognize the many accomplishments of ASMC chapters. Submissions (including all applicable forms and documentation) for awards in this category are due by no later than April 10, 2017.

  • The Community Service Award
  • The Chapter Communications Program
  • The Five Star Chapter Program
  • Membership Growth Awards
  • The Neil R. Ginnetti Professional Development Award

The annual Chapter Program reporting form encompasses all of the chapter award competition areas, including overall recognition. For rules and to submit, please visit https://asmc.nonprofitcms.org/a/Organizations/main/Home
* Please keep in mind that there are items due throughout the year in the administrative area.

MEMBERSHIP AWARDS (2)
Several awards are presented to ASMC members for achievements in areas such as leadership, recruitment, corporate engagement, and authorship. Submission (including all applicable forms and documentation) for awards in this category are due by no later than April 10, 2017.

  • Chapter Leadership
  • Corporate Member
  • Editorial (chosen by Editorial Board from published submissions)
  • Membership Recruitment (chosen based upon data from new membership applications)

For rules and to submit, please visit https://asmc.nonprofitcms.org/a/Organizations/main/Home

Questions may be directed to awards@asmconline.org or the direct contact listed in each program rules link found on https://asmc.nonprofitcms.org/a/Organizations/main/Home.

Congress approves compromise FY2017 Defense Authorization bill

ASMC National News - Fri, 2016-12-09 11:34

The Senate passed the final FY2017 Defense Authorization bill yesterday with broad bipartisan support, 92-7.  The bill, which had been worked out by House and Senate committee negotiators, overwhelmingly passed the House (375-34) last week.

The bill authorizes force levels, programs, and policies (including military pay raises) for Department of Defense (DoD) budgets and the programs and policies for the Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons program.  Appropriations bills provide actual funding.

House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said the bill “focuses on our troops, America’s most important national defense resource.  It provides them a full pay raise for the first time in four years, it stops layoffs of our military personnel and actually increases the end strength of our Armed Forces.”

The compromise bill authorizes a total of $619 billion, including $532 billion for the FY2017 DoD base budget and $19 billion for in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons program.  The bill authorizes an additional $8 billion in mandatory spending and about $60 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The legislation authorizes funding to support a 2.1 percent military pay raise, higher than the 1.6 percent raise proposed by the president.  The bill does not make any changes to out-of-pocket expenses by servicemembers or military retirees and makes no changes to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).

The bill provides two TRICARE options—managed care option and no-referral network option—for servicemembers (and families) and retires, and extends the hours for care at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) primary care clinics.

The bill does not require women to register for the draft, but directs the preparation of a study of the utility of the Selective Service.

The bill rejects the administration’s plan to draw down troop levels and adds 16,000 Army end strength and 3,000 Marine Corps end strength in 2017.

The conference committee also rejects an administration proposal for another Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) round.

The bill includes major reforms of the Department of Defense (DoD) organization.  The role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as the principal, independent military advisor to the president is preserved and the roles of the Combatant Commanders are clarified.  The size of the National Security Council (NSC) staff is capped at 200 under the bill.

In addition, the bill replaces the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L) with an Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (R&E) and an Under Secretary of Defense of Management and Support and creates a new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Policy and Oversight to set defense-wide acquisition and industrial base policy.

The bill now goes to the president for signature.  The president had earlier threatened to veto the bill, but the White House has given no indication of the president’s intent now that the bill has passed.

OMB issues revised guidance on conference participation

ASMC National News - Tue, 2016-12-06 15:26

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has revised its guidance on policies and practices regarding U.S government employees and agencies participating in conferences.

In a memo to federal department and agency heads, OMB Director Shaun Donovan amended the guidance OMB issued in 2012 (OMB Memorandum M-12-12) that reduced travel spending and instituted tough management controls for conference participation.

The 2012 guidance was issued to comply with the president’s direction to cut administrative expenses.  It was also in response to an Inspector General report that in 2010 the General Services Administration (GSA) spent close to one million dollars on a training conference in Las Vegas.

Donovan said that since 2012, agencies “have achieved significant savings in conference spending and strengthened internal controls to monitor travel and conference-related activities.”  Donovan emphasized the revised guidance acknowledges the lessons learned and the actions agencies have taken, but also recognizes the challenges faced over the past few years, especially “reduced opportunities to perform agency functions, present scientific findings and innovations, train, recruit, and retain employees, or share best practices.”

The revised guidance “amends policies and practices for Federal conference sponsorship, hosting, and attendance.”  The guidance stresses the importance of conferences and eases some approval requirements.  But, it still requires detailed annual reporting on conference participation.

In the memo, Donovan stresses that OMB understands the important role conferences play in the operations of the federal government.  He said conferences enable “the sharing of knowledge among large groups, bringing together dispersed communities, or providing opportunities for interaction, collaboration and presenting cutting edge work.”

Under the revised guidance, agencies are directed to continue to ensure:1) “that Federal funds are used only for necessary and appropriate proposes” and 2) that all conference attendance and expenses are appropriate to the agency mission and comply with the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

OMB directs agencies to designate an official “to approve estimated spending excess of $500,000 on a single conference and submit justification that attendance is the most cost-effective way to achieve a “compelling purpose.”

Agencies should make sure that decisions on conference participation and attendance are made in a timely manner “to ensure that conference attendees are able to commit to participation in a timely manner and take advantage of cost-savings measures such as early registration and advance travel bookings,” according to the memo.  To prevent lengthy review processes, OMB states that agencies “should pre-approve, as appropriate, employee attendance at known recurring conferences.

OMB also requires agencies to report conference expenses on their official websites.  OMB directs agencies to report by December 31 of each year a “description of all agency-sponsored conferences from the previous fiscal year where net expenses exceed $100,000.  If net costs for an agency-sponsored conference exceed $500,000 the website should identify the approving official and the rational for approval.

Carter urges Congress to avoid long-term CR for FY2017

ASMC National News - Fri, 2016-12-02 12:11

With Congress appearing ready to consider a long-term continuing resolution (CR) well into next year (possibly until May 2017), Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned of the detrimental effects on U.S. national security of such action.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Carter called the prospect of operating under a CR for nearly two-thirds of the fiscal year “unprecedented and unacceptable.”  He stressed that DoD has never operated under a long-term CR during a transition to a new administration.

The longer the length of the CR the more damage will be done to DoD’s capabilities because DoD will be “locked into last year’s budget and last year’s priorities,” Carter said.  He cited the most harm will be resulting shortfalls in operations and munitions accounts, especially those accounts funding counterterrorism operations. 

Carter emphasized that operating under a CR means that DOD will not have the authority to begin new programs, increase program production rates, or start multi-year procurement projects.  He said in FY2017 DOD will need 57 new starts and 87 increases in program production rates.  Delaying these actions during a CR would undercut important programs (e.g., KC-46 Tanker, helicopter buys, and replacement of the Ohio submarine).

Carter said if Congress can’t complete action on the FY2017 DoD appropriations bill by the time the current CR runs out on December 9, it should at least keep the CR as short as possible to allow time to finish the bill.

OMB/OPM guidance increases amounts available for federal employee bonuses in FY2017

ASMC National News - Tue, 2016-11-29 15:23

Funding available for awards for federal non-Senior Executive Service (SES) employees is set to increase for FY2017.

Guidance issued to agency heads in a joint memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) increased the amounts agencies can use to pay non-SES/Senior Level (SL)/Senior Professional and Scientific (ST) for the period October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017.

Separate guidance on bonuses for SES/SL/ST employees was issued in August.  The freeze on bonuses and awards to political appointees remains in effect.

The aggregate amount agencies can spend on bonuses for non-SES/SL/ST employees for FY2017 is 1.5 percent of the aggregate salaries.  Agency spending on bonuses has been frozen at the FY2010 level since FY2011.  This guidance lifts that freeze.

This guidance applies to individual money awards only, including individual rating-based performance awards and individual contribution awards (e.g., special act awards).

The guidance also lifts monetary caps (frozen at the FY2010 level) for other awards such as group awards, referral bonuses, suggestion/inventions awards, Quality Step Increases (QSIs), and recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives.

The OMB/OPM memo emphases that “awards programs are valuable tools to help agencies to reward employee performance excellence and reinforce a high performing culture that will help improve organizational effectiveness.”  Agencies are encouraged “to review their awards policies to ensure they are operating awards programs that optimize employee engagement and recognition through appropriate use of the various awards authorities.”

The memo also directs agencies to honor all collective bargaining agreements before implementing this guidance.

OPM directs federal agencies to freeze SES hiring

ASMC National News - Fri, 2016-11-25 11:48

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced a government-wide freeze on Senior Executive Service (SES) hires.  that effective December 7, 2016.

Acting OPM Director Beth Colbert said in a memo issued last week that the freeze will “ensure the incoming head of the agency will have the full opportunity to exercise his or her prerogative to make or approve executive resources decisions.”

Colbert pointed out that this is normal procedure during transition to a new administration when the president requests letters of resignation form all non-term presidential appointees.

President Obama has asked all non-termed presidential appointees to submit a resignation letter by December 7, 2016.  Exceptions to this request are U.S. Marshals; U.S. Attorneys; Inspectors General; Termed appointees; Appointees of independent and regulatory agencies that are led by termed appointees; and Appointees serving on part-time boards and commissions.

During the freeze (ending on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017) OPM will not accept agency submissions of new SES Qualifications Review Board (QRB) cases.  In addition, OPM will suspend the 90-day deadline for agency submissions of QRB cases.  However, OPM will continue to process QRB cases that have been submitted before the effective date of the freeze.  Agencies will be allowed to continue to conduct SES staffing actions up to the point submission to the QRB.

OPM identified some exceptions to the freeze on SES hiring.  The freeze does not apply to agencies excepted from the president’s resignation letter request.  The freeze also does not apply to submission of “Criterion B” cases covering those individuals who have “successfully completed an OPM-approved SES Candidate Development Program (CDP) and whose executive qualifications are then transmitted to OPM for QRB review and certification for general non-competitive SES appointment eligibility.”

OPM will consider exceptions to the freeze if necessary to “ensure the continuity of agency operations” during the transition to the new administration.  The exception consideration will be based upon “critical need” in the agency.  OPM will consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Agencies will be able to request resumption of QRB processing of their SES cases when a new agency head is appointed.

FY2017 Military Construction/VA appropriations bill stands alone as Congress seen likely to extend CR into next year

ASMC National News - Tue, 2016-11-22 17:42

With the end of the current FY2017 Continuing Resolution (CR) set to run out on December 9, Congress appears likely to pass an extension until March 2017.

Congressional Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress seem ready to defer action on the final 11 remaining FY2017 appropriations bills until March 2017.  There had been movement in the House to propose an FY2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill.  But, last week House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) announced that his committee will start work on a CR that would keep the government operating until March 31, 2017.

“While I’m disappointed that the Congress is not going to be able to complete our annual funding work this year, I am extremely hopeful that the new Congress and the new Administration will finish these bills.” Rogers said.  Rogers also said he hoped “regular order” would return to the appropriations process next year “so that the damaging process of Continuing Resolutions will no longer be necessary.”

Some Senate republicans, including Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pushed back against the House movement towards extending the CR into next year.  McCain has been working with his House counterparts to try to complete a compromise version of the FY2017 Defense Authorization bill.  However, without a completed FY2017 DoD Appropriations bill, final action on the defends policy bill will likely also be deferred until next year.  Congressional Democrats have been pushing for a series of “minibus” appropriations bills, batching the remaining 11 bills.

If that the CR is extended into next year, the FY2017 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriations bill would be the only appropriations bill to become law this year.  The FY2017 MilCon/VA bill was passed and signed into law in September along with the CR extending FY2017 government funding until December 9.

The Military Construction portion of the FY2017 MilCon/VA Appropriations Act provides $7.75 billion for military construction projects, family housing, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), and the NATO Security Investment Program. This amount is $280 million above the president’s request. The Act also funds $172 million in the Military Construction Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) appropriation.

Funding for specific active and reserve component military construction projects in the Act is set at $5.7 billion.  In addition, the Act provides another $615 million in FY2017 for the Army ($41 million), Navy and Marine Corps ($316 million), Air Force ($150 million), Army national Guard ($67 million), Air National Guard ($11 million) and Army Reserve ($30 million) to be used for projects identified in unfunded priority lists identified by the military services and provided to Congress.

The Act fully funds the request for Family Housing projects ($1.3 billion) and the NATO Security Investment Program ($178 million) to support fixed and mobile infrastructure projects for NATO operations.  The DoD Base realignment and Closure Account is provided $240 million for cleanup and disposal of property under the four closure rounds already approvedThe Act also rescinds $283 million from prior military construction appropriations Acts.

Happenings from HQ Nov. 2016

ASMC National News - Thu, 2016-11-17 14:02

With fall in full swing, holidays are right around the corner and we have a lot happening at ASMC HQ. We wanted to take a moment to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and share some news.

The Fall Edition of our Armed Forces Comptroller, “ASMC Chapters: Contributing to the Defense Financial Management Profession” is Out!
This issue is decorated with articles focusing on ASMC Chapter best practices. Articles from various chapters span topics from reviving chapters, to engagement of early careerists, to conducting a Mini-PDI. Check out the current issue online and don’t forget to take the quiz for an opportunity to earn a few extra CPE’s toward your recertification.

National Essay Competition
It’s time again for ASMC’s National Essay Competition. Due February 28, submissions must be written on the current topic for 2017: “If the President nominated you to serve as Comptroller/Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Defense, what would you target as your three most important financial management goals and why?” Read more information on submission specifics.

Become a CDFM!
While many defense financial managers have achieved their required DoD FM Certification (DFMCP), the CDFM and CDFM-A remain a valuable and prestigious test-based credential. As a reminder, the DFMCP recommends that DoD FMers obtain a test-based certification at Levels 2 and 3. Among test-based certifications, the CDFM is most closely aligned to defense FM competency areas. The CDFM and CDFM-A certifications set individuals apart from their peers, since they indicate that in general, an individual holding them possesses a broader understanding of all of the FM competency areas. It is also reflective of determination, drive, and initiative to take the extra step in enhancing their professional development and value to the overall defense FM community. Only 13% of the approximate 54,000 defense FMers possess the CDFM. CDFM or CDFM-A Exams are offered daily worldwide via computers located at installation Education Centers and at Pearson VUE testing centers. More info about CDFM Enrollment. For more info about testing. If you have additional questions please contact certification@asmconline.org.

ASMC CLASSROOM TRAINING IS AVAILABLE. PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY!!!
Enhanced Defense Financial Management Training Course (EDFMTC)
For DoD employees who wish to take advantage of the 5-Day government-funded EDFMTC, please visit bit.ly/EDFMcourses for the FY 2017 schedule to register for a course offered in your vicinity.

Chapter/Organization Course Registration
ASMC has licensed two vendors to deliver instructor-led courses at your organization. Learn and apply the latest developments in DoD Financial Management, Acquisition Business Management, and/or Fiscal Law while saving on tuition, travel cost, and time. To schedule a course, please contact Rich Arns of Archway Training or Amanda Alter of the Graduate School.

Individual Course Registration
To find out more about ASMC’s education opportunities, please visit:

 

ASMC Membership Dues Increase
As a reminder, for those of you that may not have received our communication, effective 1 January 2017 annual membership dues will increase from $26 to $40 and three-year membership dues will increase from $75 to $114. If you have not already done so, you still have until the end of the year to make a one-time renewal of your membership, extending the period for an additional one or three years. To take advantage of this opportunity and renew your membership at the current rate. Read the full message.

National Awards Program
ASMC annually recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of its chapters, membership, and the defense financial management community through our National Awards Program. This program encompasses individual and team achievement awards, scholarships, educational grants, an essay contest, chapter recognition, and a variety of other individual based awards. Here you can find a list of awards and rules. Deadlines are quickly approaching, so don’t delay!

ASMC National PDI 2017 is May 31 – June 2, 2017 in San Diego! We expect to have registration available NLT mid-March 2017. The PDI 2017 theme is “Catching the Wave … Audit Ready” Michael Durant, pilot of Blackhawk Super 64 that was downed during the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia will be one of our General Session speakers. He will speak about mission, leadership, and unity in dealing with challenging situations.

Virtual PDI can help you acquire some extra credits toward your CDFM, CDFM-A, or DoD FM recertification.

Update your member profile to provide us your current contact info, especially if you have recently relocated, so you continue to receive the Armed Forces Comptroller. Also, you can update your chapter designation when you move to a new location and associate with the chapter there. It’s no longer necessary to send a note to HQ asking us to change your chapter designation. Lastly, using your personal email address in your profile avoids lapses in ASMC HQ communication with you in the event you change jobs and your work email address changes.

Any questions? Contact Brian Gresham, Associate Director for Communications and Public Affairs at gresham@asmconline.org.
We thank you for your service to our Nation and your ASMC membership.

President requests additional FY2017 funding for DoD operations against ISIL

ASMC National News - Wed, 2016-11-16 15:12

President Obama sent Congress a FY2017 budget amendment request last week that would provide $5.8 billion in additional Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).  This funding will support U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East

The FY 2017 OCO amendment of $5.8 billion brings the FY 2017 total Department of Defense (DoD) OCO request to $64.6 billion.

Congressional defense oversight committees have been pressing the administration to submit a request for additional funding to support increased operations since the president announced this summer that 8.400 military personnel would stay in Afghanistan and because of the increased pace of operations against ISIL.

Almost 50 percent ($2.8 billion) of the total $5.8 billion budget amendment request would be for operations and force protection including:  special pays and subsistence for deployed personnel, operating tempo, communications, and deployment and redeployment costs.  Base and installations support costs and support for forces located in other parts of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) region account for 22 percent ($1.3 billion) of total costs.  Funding for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces Aviation Modernization program is 14 percent of the total ($0.8 billion). 

Other costs include: classified programs ($0.4 billion); Iraq Train and Equip Fund to support Kurdish Peshmerga forces ($0.3 billion); equipment and reset ($0.2 billion); and Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Fund ($0.1 billion).

Looking at the total request by operation, $3.4 billion would be for Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL (OFS) in Afghanistan.  These additional funds would support the higher troop level (8,400) approved by the president ($2.5 billion) and provide for Afghan aviation modernization ($.8 billion).

An additional $2.4 billion would be for Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR) in Iraq to support about 5,500 U.S personnel (2,000 more budgeted) deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations, support Kurdish Peshmerga forces, and address emergent force protection issues.  The additional forces approved by the president are providing training and advice to coalition partner security forces in efforts to defeat ISIL.  

The budget amendment would also provide $20 million for the incremental operational costs for Operation ODYSSEY LIGHTENING (OOL) in Libya.

Details of the DoD request are available on the DoD Comptroller’s website.

The president also requested an additional $5.8 billion for the State Department and the Agency for International Development (AID).  These funds would be used to “implement the diplomatic engagement, governance, and stabilization components” of the administration’s strategy against ISIL, and humanitarian aid for areas in Iraq liberated from ISIL control. 

Support included in this funding are: removal of unexploded ordnance; immediate stabilization needs in areas liberated from ISIL control; police training in the Northern Nigeria region and other areas affected by Boko Harem/ISIL; longer term stabilization needs for areas liberated from ISIL control; technical assistance to the transitional government in Libya and support for the political process in Yemen; humanitarian assistance; and increased embassy security.

Defense Business Board recommends the new administration run DoD like a “modern business”

ASMC National News - Thu, 2016-11-10 15:54

Presidential transition teams open for business this week at federal agencies to provide for the transition of power to the new administration. 

A prime subject during transition at the Department of Defense is usually how to make the department run more efficiently and effectively.  Each new administration develops its own set of defense management and acquisition improvement reforms aimed at making the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the Military Services operate better.

The Defense Business Board (DBB) has developed a set of recommendations for the DoD transition team directed at making DoD run more like a “modern business.” The DBB is an authoritative, advisory committee that provides independent advice to DoD’s senior leadership on the use of best business practices and management improvement programs for DoD.

In its report, Focusing a Transition:  Challenges Facing the New Administration, the DBB opines that the defense department is “too costly, too slow and often unable to devote the resources necessary to enhance modernization and readiness.”  The report further states that “without a disciplined effort to rein in costs and overhead, the Department will not only be unaffordable, it will be unable to swiftly and shrewdly adapt to maintain superiority over determined adversaries.”  The goal, the report says, should be to free up more resources for readiness improvement and modernization efforts.

The DBB stresses that the department must develop and aggressively execute an “outcomes-based program of change to overcome bureaucratic inertia.”  The Board argues that “organizations, contracts, activities, etc., must be eliminated.”  It warns against only making marginal piecemeal cuts.  Doing so, the report emphasizes, “leaves the door open for adding them back during the next budget cycle.”  Change must come as a result of “major surgery,” the Board says.

To ensure that tough decisions are made and the whole department is focused on achieving the necessary changes, the DBB argues that the role of the Deputy Secretary of Defense must be redefined.  The Deputy does not pay enough attention to the primary function—managing the department, the report states. The Deputy spends too much time away from the Pentagon representing the Secretary or attending to coordination with other agencies, allies, or the White House.

The DBB strongly recommends that the Deputy must become the department’s Chief Management Officer (CMO) in fact as well as in name because managing the department demands the full-time attention of the CMO.

To this end, the DBB recommends that the Deputy must “drive the Department to continue to shrink overhead.”  As an active Chief Management Office, the report urges the Deputy to: 1) Exert “constant fiscal discipline;” 2) Streamline processes to be “more agile and responsive;” 3) Make speed and cost “valued commodities;” 4) Cut layers of decision making and increase accountability and track performance; 5) Address “an unaffordable health care system and pension benefits;” and 6) Establish metrics and track written goals and objectives for senior leaders.

In addition, the DBB recommends that the department engage in a “zero baseline” effort to identify and eliminate duplicate and redundant functions and capabilities, and the Service Secretaries become an executive committee to support the secretary’s priorities.  The DBB stresses that the department’s civilian and military leaders must “collectively drive tradeoffs that support the Department’s National security priorities, often at cost to their individual organizational priorities.”

Happy 241st Birthday United States Marine Corps!

ASMC National News - Thu, 2016-11-10 11:33

Today is the 241st celebration of the founding of the United States Marine Corps.

"On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress approved the resolution to establish two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore. This date marks the official formation of the Continental Marines."

1st Commandant: Major Samuel Nicholas (1775-1783)

Here here! Semper Fi!

 

OO-RAH!

DoD will implement recommended innovation practices

ASMC National News - Mon, 2016-10-31 13:47

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced a set of innovation practices that he said supports DoD’s aggressive move “toward a more innovative future.”

Speaking at a conference held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conference (Assessing the Third Offset Strategy) last week, Carter said he will implement three of the recommendations made by the Defense Innovation Board.

Carter established the board earlier this year to “advise me and my successors on how the DoD can better connect to innovation and make better use of it—including by changing ourselves.”

The department’s wide-ranging effort to innovate technologically is to “plant the seeds for a number of different technologies that we think will give us a warfighting advantage in the future, but also to be more innovative and agile in all aspects of DoD,” Carter said.

The secretary cited the fast, relentless pace of change, competition with and between other nations, and competition with terrorists and other adversaries as reasons to innovate “to stay the best.”  “Being more innovative in every way we can is critical to the future success of our military and our Defense Department,” he said.

The first Innovation Board recommendation Carter will implement is to “focus on recruiting talented computer scientists and software engineers” [military and civilian] into the force.  DoD will use recruiting initiatives across a broad spectrum from Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs to civilian “scholarship-for-service” programs, he said.  The aim is to make computer sciences “a core competency” in DoD.

DoD will invest in “machine learning, through targeted challenges and prize competitions,” rather than investing in new “brick and mortar” institutions, Carter said.  Using a “virtual center of excellence” model will establish stretch goals and incentives for academic and private-sector researchers.  The initial challenges will target computer vision and machine learning.

Following another Innovation Board recommendation, Carter will create a DoD Chief Innovation Officer.  This new post will serve as the Secretary’s senior advisor for innovation activities.  Carter noted that many organizations have such a position, citing high tech companies IBM, Intel, and Google.  He said that “it’s time we did as well, to help incentivize our people to come up with innovative ideas and approaches.”

Carter promised to continue to work on building the force of the future and said to watch for “more to come” in these efforts.  “We must ensure that we keep leading the way, and keep disrupting, challenging, and inspiring all of us to change for the better,” he said.

DoD issues annual acquisition performance review

ASMC National News - Fri, 2016-10-28 15:43

The Department of Defense has recently released the fourth in a series of annual performance reviews of the DoD acquisition system.

Frank Kendall, who has been Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics for five years said the report “continues my long-term effort to bring data-driven decision making to acquisition policy.”

Kendall said the report shows that DoD is making progress to improve acquisition and is “moving in the right direction with regard to the cost, schedule, and quality of the products we deliver.”  He cited moderating program cost growth as an example. “The 5-year moving average of cost growth on our largest and highest-risk programs [is] at a 30-year low,” he emphasized.

The acquisition performance report complies with the Improve Acquisition Act of 2010 and the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requests on analytical studies on acquisition performance.

The report notes that analysis and data support the following improvements: 1) Cost control has improved significantly (as shown in fewer Nunn-McCurdy breaches and cost overruns) ; 2) Most programs deliver the original baseline quantity (planned at Milestone B); 3) Operation and support costs are largely driven by external inflation factors (which cannot always be controlled); 4) High-level requirements don’t usually change on major programs (85 percent of Major Defense Acquisition Programs-MDAPS-show no requirements changes); 5) DoD acquisition can be timely and responsive (development schedule growth is lower than cost growth); 6) Contracting processes are generally fair, rigorous, and objective (protests average about 2,5 percent of solicitations-GAO); and  7) Major defense companies remain profitable (cost performance improvement align industry and DoD goals).

The report stresses that budget constraints are leading to fewer programs in the “new product pipeline,” which could “put technological superiority at risk.”  To mitigate this risk, DoD is adding early stage experimental prototyping efforts, but the report cautions that this does not add capability ready for production.  Tight budgets also require realistic program baselines.  If baselines are not realistic, the report states, higher cost growth could result.

There is also a need for a metric for weapons system design and performance O&S costs, according to the report.  Many of these costs (e.g., compensation, health care, and fuel prices) are outside of acquisition control, but need to be addressed separately from acquisition program effects, the report advises.

The report underscores the importance of focusing on acquisition fundaments and cost control.  “Proactive management and creative thinking contribute significantly and measurably to cost control.”  “Should cost” management has proven successful and should become permanent in the acquisition culture, the report concludes.

Fixed-price contracting should be used “judiciously” during development, the report states.  Study has shown that fixed-price contract during development can be risky and counterproductive.  On the other hand, incentive contracts “can yield good cost control at lower risk and lower price,” according to the report.

Finally, the report identified changes that have improved acquisition management and performance including: the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund and Force of the Future initiatives; implementation of Better Buying Power (BBP) 3.0; a new DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.74 that establishes a management structure for acquisition of contracted services; issuance of a new Risk, Issue, and Opportunity Management Guide, to identify and quantify risks; issuance of DDPAP, 2016b, a guidebook update providing guidance on “selection and negotiation of the most appropriate and effective contract type and incentives” for specific acquisitions; issuance of an O&S cost management guidebook with tools and best practices for cost analyses; and  an update of the Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) Guidebook to include guidance on intellectual property issues.

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