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Tracy Bradford, Education Director U.S. Army Women's Museum, discussed the museum's exhibits with Lt. Gen. Karen Dyson, Military Deputy to Army Financial Management and Comptrollers, Jan. 8. Dyson was visiting the Combined Arms Support Command to discuss Financial Management as it relates to the Sustainment Warfighting Function. The stop at Fort Lee was part of her "road show' to discuss the Army's financial management optimization efforts of driving change in the Army FM enterprise at various installations. (Photo by Keith Desbois, CASCOM Public Affairs)

FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 21, 2016) -- When the Army’s Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Financial Management and Comptroller, presented Department of Defense Financial Management Certification certificates to seven Combined Arms Support Command budget analysts here Jan.8, she admitted being impressed with the accomplishments of the G-8 team.

“This is a big deal; I know the amount of dedication it takes to complete this certification,” said Lt. Gen. Karen E. Dyson, who traveled to Fort Lee to meet with the commanding general, Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, and his staff to receive an update on the Sustainment Warfighting Function with a particular focus on financial management leader development and readiness.

Dyson is the senior finance general officer in the Army, and is visiting Army installations and units to assess readiness and promote Army Financial Management Optimization efforts, including the required DOD FM Certification. She was happy to present the hard-earned certificates during her visit.

“This wasn’t just a check mark for the command, (Lt.) Gen. Dyson made our certification achievements personable,” said Sabrina A. Womack, Headquarters CASCOM budget analyst, who completed her DOD FM Level II Certification June 8, 2015. “This recognition encourages me to continue working toward my goals and further my career,” said Womack, who will attend the Army Comptroller Course at Syracuse, N.Y., next month.

“It makes you feel like a team member in the bigger picture,” said Doug W. Pietrowski, a budget analyst for the Army Logistics University’s Transportation School Branch. Pietrowski, who completed his certification July 17, 2015, said it spoke volumes of the leadership – to coordinate for a three-star general’s time to recognize the team’s achievement. “Maybe this will add an extra amount of motivation for those who are still working toward their certification, to reach that goal,” he said.

The CASCOM G-8 team is among the leaders in U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, with over 60 percent of those required having achieved FM Certification, said Don Hall, Director of CASCOM G-8.

“This will remain a priority for us as it helps our great FM professionals support the CASCOM mission more effectively,” Hall said. The certification provides appropriate training and development in key areas such as audit readiness, fiscal law, ethics and decision support. But it doesn’t end with the initial certification, Hall said.

“FM professionals will be required to complete continuing education each year to keep their knowledge relevant and current.”

Now more than ever the department needs a well-trained financial workforce to solve constant budget challenges and to be a key enabler for achieving auditable financial statements, according to the FM Certification Website.

DOD FM Certification was developed in 2011, and codified in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, to provide an Enterprise-wide framework to guide the professional development of the DOD’s 54,000-strong financial management workforce. The FM and leadership competencies required by the program ensure the financial management workforce is prepared to meet both current and future challenges. The program is based on courses and experience.

By signing the 2012 NDAA, it signified “the president wanted everyone who touches government funds to be certified,” said Sophia Coward, budget analyst for Headquarters CASCOM branch who earned her certification June 26, 2015. This not only includes budget analysts, but also program management, management and manpower and managerial accounting specialists.

To earn the certification, military and civilian financial managers must complete several courses and gain experience in a financial management career field with the DOD to attain proficiency in the competencies required at an individual’s assigned level. Certain positions within the Department of the Army require the incumbent to obtain certification under the DOD FM Certification Program as a condition of employment. If selected for one of these positions, one must obtain certification within two years of entry into the position, according to the program policy.

“While we continued to perform our regular jobs, our supervisors allowed us a couple hours each week to work on the certification courses,” Coward said. With 71 course hours required for her Level II certification, that’s the equivalent of taking nearly a full load of courses toward a master’s degree for two years.

During Dyson’s Jan. 8 visit, she also led a brief professional development session with the CASCOM G8 staff to promote other Career Program 11, Comptroller, long-term training programs like the Defense Comptrollership Program and the Academic Degree Training program. Dyson stressed the importance of continued professional development and linked the DOD FM Certification program’s requirement for continued education to these training opportunities. She also highlighted the importance of the TRIAD Performance Plan, which focuses on sleep, activity, and nutrition – the key aspects that influence overall health.

“The Army needs healthy, resilient and highly-trained professional financial managers in order to increase Army readiness and fiscal responsibility,” Dyson said.