Holding fiscal law training on post saves Army almost $400,000
May 20, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (May 20, 2012) -- Army resource managers are required to take an introductory course and then a refresher every three years.
Sending them off in a temporary duty status for the mandatory instruction can cost several thousand dollars per individual, and that can add up to big bucks when many Soldiers and civilians are sent.
So, when U.S. Army Forces Command's Mike Schroeder, assistant deputy chief of staff for G-8 (Finance and Resource Management), looked at the need for the training, what it cost, and the number of commands stationed at Fort Bragg, he decided it would made better sense, and save dollars and cents, to bring the trainers here.
To make that happen, he met with Brian Gerber, the FORSCOM Deputy Staff Judge Advocate; and together they created a three-day fiscal law course for 170 Fort Bragg resource managers, or RMs, at the North Carolina National Guard Regional Training Institute on post, May 8-10.
"Basically, by not spending the money to send 170 RMs to Washington, D.C., or the Army Judge Advocate General's school in Charlottesville, Virginia, we saved a little less than $400,000 for the various commands here in total," said Gerber. "It was a big success story."
Granted, there was the cost of bringing in a few trainers and for printing instructional material, but that was minor compared to the savings realized.
"This was a good idea -- very productive -- and it saved us a lot of money," said Isaac Lee, a program budget analyst with FORSCOM's G-2 (Intelligence). "It was a refresher course for me; but for some of the other individuals, it was their first time. And by holding the training on post far enough away from the office, it limited being called out of the training although I volunteered to go in to the office during lunch."
"I came to enhance my understanding of fiscal law so I can better enhance operations down range and better advise commanders," said Capt. Jonathan Oblon, commander of the 82nd Sustainment Brigade's finance and support unit.
"A lot of paying agents come and ask, 'Well, we're thinking about doing this; what can you tell me?' and 'Are we able to do this?' Now I can immediately say, 'Hey, this is what you want to go ask your lawyer' and better help them direct their questions."
While the cost savings were important, Schroeder thinks equally beneficial was the team building/networking aspect of the event.
"Next to the Pentagon, we here at Fort Bragg probably have the largest concentration of financial managers in the Army because of the multitude of major commands and other organizations," he said.
"By getting a group like this together--contracting, legal folks, financial managers, both resource management and finance, those who do the disbursing--you can exchange ideas and experiences. It's invaluable to be able to reach out when you have a tough question or where you have to negotiate with another organization, you know who to talk to."
Schroeder hopes to make this fiscal law course an annual event and use it as an example for other people to initiate similar training efficiencies.
"This is my fourth tour at Fort Bragg, and I've noticed there's a lot of good training that goes on here in pockets," he said. "I think we need to start doing more of these things collectively at Fort Bragg. It's really a matter of how we can best leverage the resources we've got at the lowest cost in order to get the biggest bang for our buck."