Practice the way you play. Train the way you fight. Mock the way you close.
More than 125 Department of Defense personnel, led by the U.S. Army Financial Management Command’s Army Financial Services directorate, came together from around the country over the last two weeks to take part in the Army’s mock fiscal yearend closeout July 12-23.
“Mock is to make sure we are prepared and ready, so that come midnight on Sept. 30 we can close our books for financial statement preparation,” said Kimberly Hood, USAFMCOM AFS Accounting Oversight and Operations division chief, who led the practice yearend closeout from the Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center in Indianapolis. “We only do this once a year, so we need that refresh.
“Once the Army’s commands close at midnight Sept. 30, that’s when we take over with our partners to make sure that the [General Fund Enterprise Business System] has the most accurate information it can possibly have before we send our information to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to complete our yearend financial reports,” Hood added.
Those partners include experts from the USAFMCOM Systems Support Operations directorate, DFAS, the Army Budget Office, GFEBS and GFEBS-Sensitive Activities project management offices, Global Combat System Support Systems – Army, Defense Health Agency, Army Shared Services Center, the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Operations, and the Office of the DASA for Policy.
“This has been a great experience because it’s really my first opportunity to meet all of our customers and learn a little bit more from some of our experts in here in USAFMCOM,” said David Clayton, DFAS General Ledger branch chief. “They have a lot of expertise down here [in USAFMCOM].”
They Army only has from midnight on Oct. 1 until 11 a.m. on Oct. 5 to provide DFAS with the closeout information.
“And, that’s pushing it. They’d really like to have it on the fourth, but we can’t meet that gate – there’s just too much to be done,” explained Hood. “We start at midnight, and we work until the file submitted, and that’s someone working continually for that entire time.”
With such tight deadlines and little-to-no room for error, Eddra Peoples, USAFMCOM systems accountant, said the mock yearend exercise is critical to overall success.
“If we run into something new in yearend, it could take us a lot of time to correct, but if we see it in mock, we know how to mitigate that when we get to the real yearend,” said Peoples.
To find those potential pitfalls, the cross-functional and multi-agency team works through a 40-page checklist with several hundred steps, and the USAFMCOM AFS team has oversight over each step to make sure it is executed in the right order and to keep the ball rolling.
“We make sure to capture any changes that have been made in GFEBS that affect anything we do at yearend,” said Hood. “The checklist is also broken out by people or the organizations who do those steps, so we look at reports in the systems to make sure balances are where they are supposed to be.”
“I feel like we are getting all the kinks worked out now instead of trying to work those out during our small reporting period times,” said DFAS’ Clayton.
On top of working out any hiccups, mock allows for the team to jump start closing out certain accounts.
“If we have balances on accounts that need to be zero, we do a journal voucher to get them there, and we also approve all the JVs over $10 million in GFEBS,” explained Hood.
USAFMCOM has been leading the mock yearend charge since 2016, when it assumed primary role from DFAS.
“One of the reasons we took over was so that we, the Army, had more oversight over our own financial statements and knew more of what was going on,” said Hood, adding that the move came following an audit report.
While USAFMCOM now runs the show, none of the team interviewed said they thought the event would be successful without the hand-in-hand partnership from DFAS.
“They have experts that are specific to their roles, and they provide us with reports making sure we have before and after snapshots as we go through mock,” said Hood. “We do a snapshot before we do a step, we do something in the middle, and then we take an after snapshot to be sure we got the results that we anticipated.
“DFAS runs all those reports for us and prepares all the information so Eddra can just look at a snapshot on a spreadsheet where all the data is together instead of combing through all those reports that come out of GFEBS.”
“If we didn’t have DFAS to partner with, and they weren’t well knowledgeable about these steps, we would never get yearend done in the time that we have to do it,” added Peoples.
She and Clayton both said that while USAFMCOM benefits from the partnership there are benefits to both organizations.
“USAFMCOM helped streamline the process by becoming a liaison,” said Peoples. “Now, DFAS only has to go to us, and we reach out to all the other people in the Army.”