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Air Force Finance Workshop Focuses on Training, Process Improvement

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- Staff Sgt. Amber Gonzalez and Airman 1st Class Femke Vargas can’t wait to return home to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, from their trip this week to the 2018 Financial Services Air Force Workshop in San Antonio.

Motivated by the variety of training topics, instruction, and crosstalk with more than 300 peers from across the Air Force, Gonzalez and Vargas are returning to their team with a better understanding of financial services support.

“This workshop was super beneficial for me because I served six-and-a-half years in the Guard,” said Gonzalez, a quality examiner and first line supervisor who oversees eight Airmen who execute multiple financial support functions. “It was really helpful to put things together and understand how the active duty component does finance. I am excited about the programs and tools coming out in the future, best practices that were shared, and the lines of effort coming out.”

Vargas, the Defense Travel System representative at Holloman AFB, said most of the people in her sections are one-deep.

“I took lots of notes this week knowing the issues our team struggles with, and I know the information I share with them will be very helpful,” she said.

The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center hosted the workshop in partnership with the Air Force Accounting and Finance Office and Defense Finance and Accounting Service with a focus on giving attendees the tools they need to provide the best financial customer service possible.

“Training is our number one focus area this week, and it’s been a roaring success,” said Monica Anders, director of AFIMSC’s Resource Management Directorate. “We brought together the right audience with the right instructors and subject matter experts for training and crosstalk that will enhance financial customer service support across the Air Force.”

Linda Alcala, AFIMSC Financial Services Division chief, said the goal of the workshop is to provide expertise attendees can share with their financial customer service teams.

“We want to develop our financial customer service skills to make sure our Airmen can go out and do their jobs without any military pay problems that we can solve for them,” Alcala said.

The opportunity to network and discuss common issues was a popular feature of the workshop and benefitted Debra Adams, finance chief at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.

“The workshop allowed us to meet face-to-face with people we are often on the phone with – leaders in the Air Force financial world,” Adams said.

Avis Hightower Rose, a budget analyst from Kirtland AFB, said learning about all of the updates and migrations of financial systems was extremely informative for her.

“A lot of the work we do is helping customers by phone,” Hightower Rose said. “We saw a new update in DTS we had not seen before. The training this week will help us talk our customers through the DTS screens as they file their vouchers.”

As attendees participated in training, networked and heard from keynote speakers, a 15-person team participated in a Continuous Process Improvement event designed to address a concern submitted from field.

AFIMSC financial administrators received input for several potential improvement initiatives from installations worldwide and observed a consistent concern regarding an apparent gap between metrics, systems, and guidance from varying Air Force levels. The CPI team analyzed the issue and developed courses of action for AFIMSC Resource Management officials to consider.

“We looked for the opportunities to improve the performance of the financial services operations by looking at all the processes and finding more effective and efficient ways to deliver entitlements and benefits to the Airmen,” said Maj. David Collins, AFIMSC CPI director who facilitated the event with Master Sgt. Gloria Hofilena.

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