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Sprint to 83 percent: AFIMSC leads culture change in world of budget execution

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Lackland, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force exceeded 83 percent budget execution by July 31 this year in the installation and mission support portfolio, the achievement wasn’t about reaching some arbitrary milestone. Instead, it displayed a change in culture.

In a typical fiscal year, Congress mandates that no more than 20 percent of funding can be spent in the last two months of the fiscal year. Known as the 80/20 rule, the mandate establishes a requirement to execute 80 percent by July 31.

"Our performance demonstrates the power of AFIMSC,” said Monica Anders, AFIMSC Resources director, whose team led the ‘sprint to 83 percent.’ “We’re changing the culture and moving obligations to the left, executing smartly and giving wing commanders the breathing room they’ve been wanting for decades.”

The change in culture represents a leadership issue that requires commanders to obligate funds much earlier in the fiscal year than they may seem comfortable, according to Col. Burke Beaumont, AFIMSC Resources deputy director.

“AFIMSC took almost $400 million in risk (this fiscal year) to free up funds for installations – funding they normally wouldn’t see until the fourth quarter or September,” Beaumont said. “This allowed commanders to put funding directly on other I&MS requirements.”

Every installation requires funding for dining facilities, utilities, grounds maintenance, refuse and custodial contracts. In the past, commanders withheld funding for these requirements until later in the fiscal year due to concerns with running out of money. AFIMSC officials eased that burden last October by taking on the risk for installations.

“We (AFIMSC) have a broader vision across the enterprise than an individual major command can have,” Anders said. “We can see needs across the enterprise through constant communication with every MAJCOM and installation.”

That vision leads to opportunities for the Air Force to spend dollars more efficiently and effectively, benefitting installations in the long run. Of the many Air Force budget portfolios, installation and mission support may have the best opportunities to obligate funds on requirements earlier in the fiscal year than others, Beaumont said.

AFIMSC’s Resource Management team identified five benefits for the Air Force in moving obligations to the left, meaning obligating funds earlier in the fiscal year.

• Spending early alleviates unnecessary stresses to the acquisition pipeline. Installations lose negotiating power with vendors as the end of the fiscal year approaches.

• Waiting to obligate funding clogs the radar screen making it difficult to see which bases are struggling and which aren’t. This delays the Air Force in understanding the actual budget status.

• Spending early clears out the pipeline of known requirements and makes the Air Force a much more attractive candidate for higher-headquarters funding. This is part of the calculus when AFIMSC evaluates bases for more funding, Beaumont said.

• Spending early diminishes risk when financial tracking systems go down. Last year an installation lost $3 million when an accounting system went down, Beaumont said.

• Spending early allows more time to correct posting errors in financial databases.

“The I&MS portfolio is a more attractive candidate for follow-on funds,” Beaumont said. “We have $1 billion in unfunded requirements, about 7,000 line items, across the enterprise. If we execute early, we can clear out the pipeline of known requirements and give ourselves the capacity to address additional execution opportunities in the fourth quarter.”

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