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Finance specialists learn about innovative tools

Master Sgt. Mariya Cavazos, Financial Services office flight chief at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, shares information about a travel pay process with Master Sgt. Sedelia Cordero, financial operations flight chief at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, during the 2020 Air Force Financial Operations Conference in San Antonio. (Air Force photo by Ed Shannon)

Master Sgt. Mariya Cavazos, Financial Services office flight chief at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, shares information about a travel pay process with Master Sgt. Sedelia Cordero, financial operations flight chief at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, during the 2020 Air Force Financial Operations Conference in San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Shannon)

Approximately 300 military and civilian financial managers from Air Force installations around the world participated in AFIMSC’s third annual Air Force Financial Operations conference Feb. 11-13 in San Antonio.

Approximately 300 military and civilian financial managers from Air Force installations around the world participated in AFIMSC’s third annual Air Force Financial Operations conference Feb. 11-13 in San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Shannon)

(From left) Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, Chief Master Sgt. Chris Coats and Linda Alcala discuss financial operations issues with Staff Sgt. Terrence Troope, Group Resource Advisor, 916 Air Reserve Wing at Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina; and Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Robinson, NCOIC of the 633rd Comptroller Squadron Financial Operations Flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Briscoe is the Air Force financial management career field manager, Coats is the Air Education and Training Command financial management chief enlisted manager, and Alcala is AFIMSC's financial operations chief.

The Air Force Financial Operations conference emphasized cross talk between Air Force finance leaders and financial managers who work face to face with customers each day. From left, Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, Chief Master Sgt. Chris Coats and Linda Alcala discuss financial operations issues with Staff Sgt. Terrence Troope, Group Resource Advisor, 916th Air Reserve Wing at Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina; and Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Robinson, NCOIC of the 633rd Comptroller Squadron Financial Operations Flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Briscoe is the Air Force financial management career field manager; Coats is the Air Education and Training Command financial management chief enlisted manager; and Alcala is AFIMSC's financial operations chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Shannon)

SAN ANTONIO -- Master Sgt. Sedelia Cordero believes there’s nothing better in the financial management world than to have real, raw talk between Air Force senior leadership and the people like her who work face to face with Airmen at the customer service counter every day.

That’s exactly what she and about 300 military and civilian financial managers from Air Force installations around the world experienced during AFIMSC’s third annual Air Force Financial Operations conference Feb. 11-13 in San Antonio.

AFIMSC’s Financial Operations Division is responsible for the execution and oversight of 77 comptroller units at installations across the Air Force.

“The best part of the conference to me is the cross talk among the people who make policy at Air Force level, higher headquarters and financial managers at the installations,” said Cordero, the financial operations flight chief at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. “Normally, we hear things second hand or through an email that we have to decipher. You can’t top hearing the actual conversations happen and to get clarification on the emails straight from the mouths of the people who sent them.”

After last year’s event focused on hands-on training, conference planners adjusted this year to promote more two-way dialogue.

“We’ve had a lot of policy changes in the past year, and we don’t know all of the impacts on the field,” said Linda Alcala, AFIMSC financial operations chief, “so it was important for us to establish at this conference strong two-way communication opportunities and foster the development of great ideas that can turn into solutions.”

The conference featured panels with leadership from AFIMSC, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and the Air Force Accounting and Finance Office. Several financial career field chief master sergeants also shared leadership and career field insights throughout the week.

“There may seem to be a lot of distance between senior leadership and the people who are the boots on the ground,” said Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Robinson, NCO in charge of the 633rd Comptroller Squadron Financial Operations Flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. “The worldwide conference gave our senior leadership the opportunity to close that distance.”

Conference attendees received updates on a handful of new tools designed to streamline processes and enrich support to finance customers. The Air Force expects to complete development this year of the Air Force Integrated Personnel and Pay System. AFIPPS is a modernized human resources system that will integrate personnel and pay processes for Airmen across the Total Force.

AFIMSC launched the Due-Out Tool in December and unveiled the RM Portal last month. The Due-Out Tool simplifies management of AFIMSC Resources Directorate tasks to installation comptroller squadrons. The RM Portal is a one-stop shop that contains up-to-date guidance, links to training and instant communication features for financial operations offices Air Force-wide.

Robinson supports advancements in technology and encouraged Air Force finance leaders to continue to take a calculated approach when employing it.

“While technology and innovation are good, a lot of times they can be implemented at the expense of efficiency,” he said. “We don’t want to leverage technology to the degree that the experience and concept knowledge are lost because we’re relying so much on the technology.”

Cordero expressed excitement with her career field’s focus on technology and expects the benefits to be greater than what are initially imagined.

“Streamlining processes is one thing FM Airmen have wanted for many years,” she said. “It’s exciting to see our career field take advantage of those technological advances so we can provide the world class customer service our Airmen deserve.”