ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army recently recognized an employee for his work to ensure the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center's 9,000-strong workforce is secure, safe and fiscally responsible.

"We're trying to find problems before they become problems," said Tim McDowell, AMRDEC's internal control administrator and organizational inspection program coordinator since November 2011. "If we are proactive and can keep ourselves in check through self-discipline and self-management, it's much easier than waiting on an outside inspector or auditor to identify an issue."

Taking care of the Army's Soldiers, civilians and contractors through the managers' internal controls program and OIP is a major responsibility that covers financial and non-financial compliance, he said.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, AMRDEC's parent organization, commended McDowell for his contributions.

McDowell compares training the workforce on management internal controls to driving a car or piloting a large ship.

"When you drive a car, you're using internal controls all the time -- turn signals, lights, brakes, steering, and speedometer," he said. "You check your speed regularly. If you don't, you get an inspection by an external person, probably a state trooper. And if he has to correct a problem, it's usually expensive.

"It's much better to do it yourself. The same goes for controlling or steering organizations in the Army, like using a rudder or sonar on a big ship."

McDowell has worked for more than 25 years as an electronics engineer. His industry experience includes electric-vehicle manufacturing, nuclear-power generation and launch support for NASA. His Army work includes testing production night sights used with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and TOW missiles, as well as reliability testing of Hellfire missiles.

McDowell joined the Operations Division to support the center's current operations for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. As the war effort began to draw down, McDowell took on the roles of ICA and OIP coordinator.

Accountability, transparency and compliance are the key components of internal controls and are priorities in government, he said. His job as the OIP encompasses oversight of all types of outside inspections and audits, performed by inspectors general and auditors from all levels of government.

McDowell's dual role as the ICA gives him oversight over all internal AMRDEC audits and inspections. Financial accountability covers budget execution, travel, contracts, payroll and appropriation of funds. Non-financial accountability includes safety, operational security, physical security, antiterrorism, force-protection and information assurance.

Internal controls keep the Army accountable and reduce the risk of fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement while improving efficiency and managing risk.

"The intent of the internal controls program is to share lessons learned across Army and Department of Defense. When we find a problem and fix it, you share that with somebody," McDowell said. "The intent is to share lessons learned across organizations so everyone can gain from other's experiences and how they corrected problems."

McDowell applied his systems engineering and program management background as he assessed the situation, formed a plan with an aggressive schedule and implemented actions to allow AMRDEC to submit its annual statement of assurance on time with improved efficiency and reduced errors. His efforts helped keep the workforce apprised of changes in regulations and trends in compliance, and he used Lean Six Sigma techniques to control business processes and improve efficiencies.

McDowell earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama in electrical and computer engineering and a master's degree in business management from the Florida Institute of Technology.

AMRDEC Director Eric Edwards presented McDowell with a Department of the Army Certificate of Achievement, a personal note from RDECOM Director Dale A. Ormond and an AMRDEC director's coin on April 18.