Employee of the quarter does international business
May 7, 2012
The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command's first-quarter fiscal 2012 Employee of the Quarter has a simple philosophy -- she looks after the billings of our foreign partners just like she looks after her own personal finances to ensure they are accurate.
As USASAC serves as "The Army's Face to the World," foreign partners can appreciate Christina Pinkard's attention to detail. She serves as a financial specialist with the command's G8, and many of her duties are focused on transportation and contract reconciliation.
USASAC's foreign military sales program is based on promises and processes, and once a letter of offer and acceptance has been made between the U.S. and an authorized FMS country, the country sends funding through the Defense Finance and Accounting Services so billings are made as agreed upon. Prior to coming to USASAC, Pinkard worked at DFAS in St. Louis so she coordinated with the USASAC finance office that was located there at that time. She joined USASAC as an accounting specialist intern in 2007, and moved to Huntsville last year when USASAC's St. Louis office relocated to Redstone Arsenal as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act.
"My first big project when I joined USASAC-St. Louis was to do a reconciliation for the transportation accounts," Pinkard said. "I had to work with DFAS, DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency), SDDC (Surface Deployment and Distribution Command), and others to get more accurate baseline estimates for transportations costs. The transportation cost is always an estimate, but FMS cases can remain open for many years because unlike 1206 (FMS funding authorized through Congress) which is a different pot of money, the funds provided by other countries do not expire so we are projecting costs for years ahead."
Pinkard was commended by Ronald Adams, chief of the G8 support branch, for her willingness to support other commands in the Security Assistance Enterprise. "AMCOM (Aviation and Missile Command) SAMD (Security Assistance Management Directorate) asked us to provide training on Fair Share Sustainment Program processes training to one of their employees. The FSSP is for items no longer in the Army inventory, such as helicopters, like the Cobra, that have been purchased through FMS and are still used by other countries," he said.
Adams also noted that during the first two weeks of fiscal 2012, Pinkard processed 680 Operation Maintenance Army adjustments valued at $7 million, 218 Funded Reimbursable Authority requests valued at $63 million, and 172 Obligation Authority pulls valued at more than $10.6 million.
"I was returning excess money that was not used, and expiring funds, but I had never done OAs before," Pinkard said. "That really was my proudest moment -- I was able to complete something I had never done before."
Pinkard admits she thrives on challenges and prefers the "hands-on" work. "I call myself the 'reconciliation queen.'"
Pinkard has also proposed numerous ways to improve processes, such as creating a year-end data base, and creating a new Microsoft database to replace the old transportation databases and reduce manual efforts. These proposals are being worked by the systems accountant. "I'm always looking for ways of doing things that are more efficient and effective and that can better help us close out FMS cases," Pinkard said.
Pinkard has also represented USASAC headquarters as a guest speaker at the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management's Security Assistance Management-CONUS course, where she presented to students about the functions of USASAC's Financial Operations Division.
"She did an excellent job," Adams said. "A DISAM instructor informed her division chief on how well she represented USASAC."
Pinkard credits an early mentor, former USASAC employee Sarah Eichelberger, for teaching her the fundamentals needed in financial management and sharing the types of institutional knowledge that make understanding an organization and its relationships easier. "She took the time to explain how things work. She really taught me a lot and encouraged me in my career path."
But Pinkard also admits to asking a lot of questions and making sure she understands how things work. "That allowed me to take on a task I'd never done before and be successful," she said.
Pinkard's success at reconciliation is important to USASAC for accounting purposes, but more importantly, by accurately handling the funding of international partners, she enhances the reputation of the Army for honesty and integrity.