On March 14, 2019, the Department of Defense (DoD) financial management community met at the Ronald Reagan Building for the 2019 ASMC National Capital Region PDI. This year’s theme was “Who Dares Wins,” signifying the need for the defense financial management community to step out of their old ways to start taking daring measures and calculated risks to solve problems within DoD’s systems and processes.

The day began with opening remarks from Debra Del Mar, chair of the ASMC National Capital Region PDI, who discussed the budgetary and financial risks the DoD faces and how networking and working together can help mitigate risks in the long run. Next, Mark Easton, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), gave an opening keynote. He emphasized that this year’s financial statement audit is the largest in the DoD’s history and stressed the importance of the certification framework in providing people with the skills needed to achieve success. Another key takeaway from Easton’s address was related to the data coming out of the audit, specifically how it will be used to inform decision making moving forward.

Next, a morning panel focused on how audit and reforms drive transformational outcomes. Panel members were Thomas W. Harker, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Financial Management and Comptroller (FM&C); John P. Roth, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, FM&C; and John E. Whitley, Assistant Secretary of the Army, FM&C. Each panel member highlighted the challenges facing their department and the path ahead to address them, including:

  • fiscal stewardship and budgetary reform
  • standardization of business processes
  • systems consolidation; and
  • data analytics.

After the panel and a short break, the day continued with two sets of breakout sessions before and after lunch. Session topics included driving innovation in defense enterprise travel, robotics process automation benefits, mobilizing for the data talent battle, digital transformation in the workplace, insights from first ever DoD–wide financial statement audit, and enterprise risk management. There were also separate corporate thought leadership bursts run by various corporations and consultants who work with the DoD.

During lunch, Chip Fulghum, Deputy Under Secretary for Management, Department of Homeland Security, spoke on the idea of disruption for lasting change. In keeping with the day’s theme, Fulghum noted that financial managers must recognize opportunities for taking calculated risks. He shared stories from his own experience of taking calculated risks, some of which did not translate to immediate success; however, those experiences ultimately led to positive outcomes in other areas because of the lessons he learned.

The day concluded with breakouts by each DoD department, giving financial managers and consultants in each area a chance to meet. Presenters reviewed past, current, and future year budgets, key areas of focus, financial improvement and audit readiness (FIAR) goals, and audit findings.

MorganFranklin personnel attended several sessions held during the conference and hosted a booth in the exhibit hall, which enabled us to interact with PDI participants throughout the day. MorganFranklin representatives met with various personnel from the defense financial management community, including uniformed and civilian service members, and took the opportunity to share what makes MorganFranklin unique by providing details on the firm’s service offerings in audit readiness, audit remediation, A-123, and intelligent automation. The ASMC NCR PDI provided useful information, opportunities for networking, and a chance to build new connections across the defense community.