Iowa Air Guard unit earns two financial management awards

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

The National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va., recently announced the 185th Air Refueling Wing Comptroller Flight, of the Iowa Air National Guard earned two of three national awards for their achievements and impact on the mission of the Sioux City, Iowa based Air Guard unit.

The honors included the Air National Guard Financial Services Office of the Year and the Financial Management Comptroller Office of the Year award for 2016.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Joe Donovan, 185th ARW Financial Management Superintendent, a significant part of consideration for the awards included being able to qualify and quantify the work being done by his office.

Donovan said other important factors taken into consideration are the use of Air Force inspection and audit systems that help insure the units financial matters are done in good order.

 “We see our role as safeguarding resources and being fiscal stewards of Department of Defense resources,” said Donovan.

In the era of automation, despite attempts to centralize services like military pay, Donovan says there are still important human factors in play within the financial management system.

“There is plenty of human touch to everything we do, and customers prefer a financial account specialist at the unit being that element of touch helping with travel and other pay questions,” said Donovan.

Donovan added that the unit’s operations tempo, significantly contributing to the amount of work executed by his office, also factored into receiving the awards. He added that it is not unusual for units like the 185th, who are a part of the Air Mobility Command, to be very busy.

“The tanker world is busier than most. When the birds are flying we are in business.” Donovan said, when referring to the demand placed on the unit’s KC-135 midair refueling aircraft. “Our travel side spins up, which in turn spins up our budget office, so you get that domino effect.”

Donovan went on to explain that there are many fluid pieces to the financial management puzzle. He said people need to be paid and budgets still need to be executed at home, while at the same time the unit continues to  send large numbers of people all over the world.

In 2016 Donovan said they authorized 2058 travel vouchers to the tune of $2.3 million dollars in travel funds alone. The total amount the finance office was responsible for was $56 million dollars in operations and maintenance funds.

Beyond that, Donovan said that showing the finance office’s effectiveness also aided in earning the awards. He said it helps when you can show a 4.9 on a level of customer satisfaction on a 5 point scale, with nearly 3000 service requests.

Donovan said that there are many factors that contribute to the success of the office, but the most important element is the people.

“We are insuring appropriated funds get distributed properly, into the appropriate hands and that they get executed properly, making sure those [budgetary] needs are met and that they are met legally and ethically,” said Donovan.

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