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‘Bots’ could improve financial processes, reduce errors

2021 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo finalist graphic

Dan Gibson, supervisory financial manager for the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, is a finalist for the 2021 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jim Martinez)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Dan Gibson, supervisory financial manager for the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, believes innovative ideas and solutions must be implemented in order to maximize financial and manpower resources.

“We must reduce the time spent on manual processes in order to empower our Airmen to problem solve and accelerate change,” said Gibson, a native of Universal City, Texas.

Gibson will get a chance to solve problems and accelerate change as one of eight finalists for the 2021 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo. We asked him about his idea and what he hopes to accomplish:

Q:  What are your primary duty responsibilities?
A:  I lead a financial management branch responsible for budgeting and executing over $2 billion of enterprise-wide civil engineering and environmental requirements.

Q:  What’s your idea for the 2021 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo?
A:  My idea is for an integrated financial management support system using robotics process automation, or bots, to efficiently track, manage and exchange military interdepartmental purchase requests (MIPRs) across their full life cycle. 

Q:  What problem will your idea solve?
A: A 2017 Air Force audit revealed 68 percent of sampled MIPRs had errors pertaining to supporting documents and coordination processes. A MIPR processing solution will help solve the problem of slow and inconsistent processing of high-volume, manual intensive MIPR coordination efforts that are governed by complicated rule sets. 

Q:  How will your idea help the Air Force deliver installation and mission support capabilities, improve installations or support families in a better way?
A: The idea will enhance the requirements execution process and deliver installation and mission support project and service capabilities at quicker speeds. The process will standardize MIPR program management, budget formulation and execution tracking.  

Q:  How did you come up with your idea?
A: The MIPR process has created multiple challenges throughout my career from base level to acquisitions and now at headquarters. My current branch - the AFIMSC Resources Management Analysis - Grouped Accounts branch - is a MIPR factory for the Air Force, executing 1,000-plus documents totaling more than $500 million each fiscal year. The team identified multiple process gaps that could be automated to reduce manual efforts and enhance auditability. We also reviewed a 2017 Air Force Audit Agency report that highlighted several audit readiness concerns related to their Air Force-wide MIPR review. 

Q:  How does it feel to be selected as a finalist for the 2021 Innovation Rodeo?
A: I feel honored. I am thankful to the resources management analysis division team for their consistent support and daily financial management efforts. I value my leadership’s support and vision for innovation and change. 

Q:  What are you hoping to gain from the experience?
A: I’m hoping to impact and accelerate change for the overall Air Force financial management career field and develop a solution that can be shared with all Department of Defense service partners.