SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – The Data Quality Improvement Team from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and U.S. Transportation Command were recognized in May 2020 as the calendar year 2019 winners of the Salute to Savings Award.The Salute to Savings Award is part of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Financial Management Award program designed to recognize either an individual or team whose actions have resulted in a significant savings to the taxpayers.The team, comprised of costs analysts, budget analysts, accountants and database analysts from SDDC and USTRANSCOM, was formed to improve data integrity and cost savings for the Department of the Defense.According to the award nomination packet, the team improved data quality by performing a container utilization analysis for SDDC’s $800 million Liner program. The analysis discovered that a billing practice change to bill containers at full cost would recover costs and reduce variability in rates.By correcting the container billing practices the team brought cost recovery from 55 percent to nearly 100 percent.“It’s a great honor, not only for our local chapter of the American Society of American Comptrollers – comprised of our local peers in the Illinois Chapter – but for our SDDC and USTRANSCOM partners,” said Brenda Short, the SDDC command budget officer.“It’s going to pay dividends for both SDDC and our customers by passing on savings to them and the taxpayers,” she added.The team also performed an inflation analysis and determined catalogues being used at the time were outdated and no longer applicable to the data. Instead, the team implemented the use of an aggregated Universal Services Contract price change as the basis for inflation to effectively reduce rates and stabilize future rates.Implementing the team’s changes will result in a customer cost avoidance of up to $110 million in fiscal year 2021.“Unprecedented collaboration between USTRANSCOM and SDDC allowed financial data to be accurately summarized for the first time since the transfer of billing processes to the Transportation Financial Management System in fiscal year 2017,” said Jasolyn Evans, the cost analysis branch chief for USTRANSCOM.“The team successfully developed a complete rate set for the $200 million Port Handling program, ensuring billing rates were established in every area where port handling contracts exist. This feat eliminated the need for time consuming manual billing processes and fully supported a more auditable billing process,” she added.Successful data integration allowed for the identification of several streamlining proposals to combine and simplify the port handling rate setting process.The team also made several data quality breakthroughs with respect to tying cost data with port handling workload and revenue – another first since the FY17 TFMS launch.“The team’s motivation was firmly grounded in the effective stewardship of taxpayer resources,” said Evans.“The most significant impact of this team’s efforts spans across the military services, combatant commands, defense agencies and other defense transportation customers by delivering customer cost savings, reducing rate variability, expediting billing, and providing more accurate operational cost estimates,” she added.Every dollar saved by their efforts enables the re-allocation of funding to invest in the modernization of key capabilities and support the defense services warfighting requirements.Members of the SDDC Resource Management Directorate who participated on the Data Quality Improvement Team included:- Kevin Cockrell, deputy chief of staff for resource management- Nicole Gebke, accountant- Denise Haake, budget analyst- Evette Holsendolph, accountant- Shane Knighton, data analyst- Brenda Short, command budget officer- Toni Stanton, budget analyst- Mary Taitano, chief, accounting operations division