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    Audit readiness team comes together to train, prepare for major effort

    Audit readiness team comes together to train, prepare for major effort

    Courtesy Photo | More than 300 Defense Logistics Agency team members came together at the McNamara...... read more read more

    FORT BELVOIR, VA, UNITED STATES

    06.26.2012

    Story by Staff Sgt. Jacob Boyer 

    Defense Logistics Agency   

    FORT BELVOIR, Va. - More than 300 Defense Logistics Agency team members came together at the McNamara Headquarters Complex and at sites throughout the agency, June 18-21, to prepare for a major push in DLA’s audit readiness efforts.

    The assembled audit readiness team attended the sessions either in person or through teleconferencing, enabling DLA leaders to emphasize the importance of the effort and begin training team members on what needs to be done across the agency’s primary-level field activities.

    Simone Reba, deputy director of DLA Finance and program manager for the agency’s audit readiness efforts, said audit readiness is about answering two important questions.

    “Are our numbers accurate?” she said, and, “Do we have appropriate inner processes? That’s really the bottom line.”

    Being auditable will enable the agency to look into everything DLA does, from financial transactions to business processes, ensuring taxpayers are getting the best value from the agency’s services, Reba said. She explained that these efforts don’t just affect employees with financial responsibilities; they will touch everyone, even employees on loading docks and those verifying time card entries. Auditing contractor KPMG has been hired to help with the process.

    “We retained a private-sector auditing firm, KPMG, to ensure we understand what’s required to pass the audit and help us get there,” Reba said.

    Both Reba and DLA Finance Director Tony Poleo likened in magnitude to past DLA efforts like Business Systems Modernization.

    “I couldn’t imagine anything being harder, but the benefit of actually seeing [BSM] happen was amazing,” Reba said. “When I look back now, as hard as it was, I realize what a difference we made. I feel like you will feel like that too when we finish this process.”

    Poleo welcomed the team as well as KPMG staff, saying Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is taking an active interest in audit readiness efforts like this across the department. An Oct. 13 memo from Panetta to senior Defense Department leaders emphasized the importance of audit readiness and set deadlines for certain areas to be audit-ready by fiscal 2014, in advance of the department’s deadline of fiscal 2017 to achieve full audit readiness.

    DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek, in turn, has made it one of his priorities for the agency. Poleo alluded to the attention the director has given, saying employees will be hearing more from him on the topic.

    “You’ll be seeing more messages [from Harnitchek],” he said. “He’s taken the secretary’s intent to heart. A lot of this is already a big challenge and will now be accelerating.”

    Harnitchek has set a goal for the agency to be fully auditable by fiscal 2015, two year’s ahead of Panetta’s deadline. Poleo said Reba’s team is looking into how to make that happen. If the agency sets its goal for 2017, he said, challenges can happen along the way that make it impossible to meet the Defense Department goal. By setting the agency’s sights on a date two years in advance, those challenges can be mitigated ahead of time.

    With the size of its business and the amount of money it handles, DLA needs to be auditable to retain taxpayer and customer confidence, Poleo said.

    “You see companies who lose credibility or fail an audit, and all the sudden they’re out of business because nobody has confidence in them,” he said. “In our case, it’s taxpayer confidence. There are a lot of taxpayers sitting in this room. I think we all want some assurance that we’re getting the most bang for the buck that we can.”

    Once the agency reaches its goal of verifying it is making the best use of the money it handles, the effort will become yearly, Poleo said.

    “As hard as it’s going to be, and as much of a challenge as it’s going to be to get our assertion, … the real importance will be able to sustain this,” he said. “Every year, we’re going to have to do this.”

    The week of training was valuable for many members of the agency’s audit readiness team. Barry Griffin, a staff accountant with DLA Finance Energy who attended remotely from Falls Church, Va., said it was the first time many of his team members got a good look at how the process will work.

    “This training was important for this group of DLA Energy audit readiness team members because, for many of them, this was the first time they received any in-depth information regarding how this audit readiness effort affects them,” he said “Although there are many details to iron out, I believe that all participants left with a better understanding of what will be expected of them in the immediate future and are excited about being a part of an effort that has the potential to enhance the culture of DLA Energy and DLA as a whole.”

    Melissa Rose-Taylor, an accountant with the evidential matter team at DLA Finance Aviation, attended remotely from Richmond, Va. She said the training was valuable because it explained how the many teams involved in the audit readiness effort will work together.

    “This training was very instrumental in clarifying the importance of the teams and how all of them will work together to accomplish the audit readiness mission within the short deadlines,” she said. “It also provided objectives for all players involved.

    Although about 300 members of the staff will be directly involved in leading the audit readiness effort across the agency, every DLA team member will be involved in the effort as it accelerates to meet Harnitchek’s fiscal 2015 goal, Reba said. Processes throughout the agency will need to be documented to show they are in compliance with policies, regulations and statutes. Documents that show where requirements came from and why sales and purchases were made will be cleaned up and have their accuracy verified to ensure the integrity of the agency’s business.

    “Start documenting your operating procedures. Don’t throw out documents that show why something was needed,” she said. “Figure out where they are so they can be quickly retrieved. Make yourself immediately available to help your local AR team member when they ask what you do or for your help in fixing something.”

    As tough a challenge as audit readiness will be for the newly assembled team and the agency as a whole, Poleo said, the right team has been brought together to make it happen.

    “We need the best possible team working on this important effort,” he said. “It goes without saying that it’s a big challenge. I do believe if you look to your left and right, wherever you are, this is the right team to do this.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.26.2012
    Date Posted: 07.03.2012 16:37
    Story ID: 91075
    Location: FORT BELVOIR, VA, US 

    Web Views: 115
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