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Scott financial managers see the future

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SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (USTCNS) --- Members of the financial management community here got an inside look at the future Oct. 25 – 27 when more than one hundred attended workshops on the Defense Department's new Standard Financial Information Structure or SFIS. The workshops included an overview briefing, brainstorming sessions, and individual forums focused on different elements of financial systems.

"It's critically important that everyone working in financial management understand the purpose of SFIS and that the customers provide input to the base line," said Mary Sack of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Denver office. Ms. Sack is the SFIS team lead with the Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System (DEAMS) functional office in Fairview Heights, Ill.

In practical terms, SFIS is a common business language that will enable financial interoperability between DOD's many different components. Over the years, the military
Services, defense agencies and field offices each developed their own processes and systems to support their unique requirements. In many cases, they use different terms to describe what are essentially the same business activities. The result is a wide array of non-integrated, "stove-piped" financial management systems with "language barriers" that preclude timely, reliable and accurate financial information.

Financial leaders and staff members were offered workshops focused on financial statements and general ledger elements; budget and funds control; and cost and managerial accounting. Each workshop included an overview of the elements to be discussed, a brainstorming session, a validation of proposed changes, and an open discussion period.

Participants were drawn from all levels of financial management from local base units to Major Command headquarters and the Air Staff. The different perspectives provided by that diversity were crucial to achieving the workshop's primary purpose of validating and refining the work done to date. Three days of spirited discussion about elements of the new system resulted in comments and questions that were captured for further study and action. Those working level insights will be added to those from other workshops to form the basis for the next stage of development. The DEAMS team lead for SFIS was pleased with the results.

"These workshops are a vital step in implementing these new standards," said Ms. Sack. "The SFIS program will help create a tremendous new ability to communicate and link financial data across different organizations."

SFIS is one of several DOD initiatives being implemented to meet such management challenges. Another financial solution is the Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System or DEAMS. DEAMS is a joint initiative of U.S. Transportation Command, the Air Force and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service that seeks to transform Defense Department financial management activities. The primary DEAMS mission is to support the warfighter with timely, accurate financial information enabling efficient and effective decision making by DOD managers.

SFIS lays the foundation for vastly improved financial management by providing a common language. DEAMS will use that language to link new processes and systems essential for efficient and effective financial management.

"We have a mandate from senior leadership to do all we can to support the Nation's warfighters with better, more timely financial information," said DEAMS functional manager, John Senn. "We are working closely with the SFIS community to ensure our activities are coordinated for best effect."

The SFIS workshops were held in the Scott AFB theater and the DEAMS functional offices in Fairview Heights, Ill. An SFIS conference for all Air Force major commands will be held in the near future at Randolph AFB, Texas.

For more information, contact: DEAMS Strategic Communications (618) 622-5757.

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