SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — Sgt. 1st Class John Kim, a budget manager assigned to U.S. Army Central, was recognized by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller) for his cost savings initiative.
Kim will receive the Cost Savings, Analysis, and Evaluation Initiative Award Level Above Army Command at the American Society of Military Comptroller’s Professional Development Institute Conference in St. Louis, Missouri during Service Day on May 31, 2023.
Kim developed a streamlined system of record keeping. The system synchronized the tracking of partner nation reimbursements due under the Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreements, or ACSA, program which recouped over 22 million U.S. dollars for fiscal year 2023.
“My job is important to U.S. Army Central’s mission because it allows us to share costs with our partner nations for operations in theater,” said Kim. USARCENT executes 80% of ACSA transactions with partner countries and represents over 50% of the Department of Defense’s ACSA transactions.
“Sgt. 1st Class Kim’s work in the field of ACSA has dynamically changed the way USARCENT manages its account reconciliation and set the standard for the entire DoD ACSA program,” said Brig. Gen. Rebecca McElwain, assistant chief of staff, USARCENT G8.
As a day-to-day task, Kim is responsible for the financial auditing of ACSA transactions. Kim verifies and inputs billing and collection information for ACSA orders in the General Fund Enterprise Business System for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, or DFAS, to invoice coalition partners.
“The ACSA program is a way for the U.S. military to transfer funds to and from our partner nations. Which could be anything from billeting, fuel, meals and transportation,” said Kim.
Kim arrived at USARCENT G8 comptroller directorate, on Sept. 10, 2020, with over 15 years of experience in finance working for the U.S. Army. After a few months of working in his section, he realized during an audit that pieces of information were missing.
“There were a lot of blind spots. There was no way for us to look at the program as a whole,” said Kim, “I talked it over with my supervisor and I was given free rein to try to do what I can to fix it.”
To rectify the deficiency, Kim combined several programs of record into a daily automated ACSA reconciliation spreadsheet which took him over 6 months to develop.
“It was just incredible,” said Capt. Moussa Sylla, USARCENT G8, ACSA budget officer, “I saw every spreadsheet and every pivot table that came into the creation of that innovation chart.” The spreadsheet summarized the count and dollar value of all current and outstanding orders by category.
“Sgt. 1st Class Kim’s reconciliation tool allowed USARCENT and Army leadership to identify the status of over 180 million dollars’ worth of open ACSA orders,” said Lt. Col. Martin Crouse, USARCENT G8 directorate, host nation assistance branch chief. The full view of the ACSA program allowed Kim and the G8 directorate to correct past mistakes and prevent future mistakes.
“As compared to fiscal year 2021, this tool enabled USARCENT to reduce and close out current and past fiscal year 2022 ACSA orders, annually reported to Congress, by over 70 million dollars,” said Crouse. The experience allowed Kim to use his skillset in data analytics. Kim’s efforts resulted in a 38 percent reduction in overdue ACSA orders.
“I learned a lot from him regarding the analytical skills needed to manage the ACSA program,” said Sylla. Kim’s initiative laid the foundation to help the G8 directorate become more efficient and effective. Due to better visibility of the ACSA program, the G8 directorate is now less reliant on DFAS to provide collection status.
“It is important to take ownership of your job,” said Kim. “Taking ownership allowed me to see what was working and what was not so that I could make the changes to improve our processes and reduce mistakes.” Kim was able to identify problem sets from a different perspective which helped him to creatively formulate a solution.
USARCENT provides enduring support to the joint orce, maintains the theater, and leads Building Partner Capacity mission sets to secure U.S. and allied interests in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.