DOD needs 'cost warriors,' report says

The Defense Department’s financial managers have to know more than money and accounting if the department wants to remain effective with shrinking budgets, according to a new survey.

The American Society of Military Comptrollers and Grant Thornton, which conducted the survey, interviewed 554 civilian employees and military personnel of the defense financial community between January and April.

Read the survey.

The survey, titled The New Cost Warrior,  defined nine characteristics of those cost warriors:

  • Understanding the parts of their department beyond the walls of the office of finance. The mission, programs and general operations of their organization play a significant role in making good spending decisions.
  • Being multi-lingual. They have to speak and understand the language and lingo of the program managers, the acquisition workers, the budget officials, and the warfighter. The survey pointed to good writing skills as a big help.
  • Being curious and analytical detectives. To save money, the financial managers need to consider the effects of their decisions into the future, even the effects several steps down the line.
  • Having business savvy.
  • Having a “make-do” mindset. Knowing they won’t get the perfect set of data for making a decision, they have to find creative ways to apply the existing assets the situation.
  • Understanding the budget process and appropriations law. They should also know about the Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution system.
  • Developing a thick skin. They may have to say and ask things that won’t make them popular.
  • Mastering analysis and how to mine meta-data for needed information.
  • Investing in themselves with training.

The survey also said the financial managers are on the front lines when it comes to dealing with a department that won’t see much by way of more money, despite carrying on military and humanitarian assistance operations throughout the world.


About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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