JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
To ensure Airmen and Guardians get the pay they need and accomplish the mission during COVID-19, the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s financial services team went virtual with its annual training workshop Feb. 8-10.
The Financial Services Worldwide and Training Workshop is a significant professional development and career field event, as it’s the only post-technical training forum for financial services operations, said Linda Alcala, AFIMSC chief of financial services.
The three-day workshop delivered information about current financial operations, and guidance from senior leaders and subject matter experts.
“It’s important to get the operators performing the work to attend and share with the financial management enterprise what’s needed for them to be successful … and represent the voice of our customers at installations,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kendall Briscoe, Air Force Financial Management and Comptroller executive for enlisted matters and finance career field manager.
By going virtual and opening attendance to all financial operations Airmen, senior leaders and Air Force headquarters teammates, more people in the finance community had the opportunity to attend.
“Typically with our in-person events, we consistently have an audience of 350,” Alcala said. “This year’s virtual event, with the field having no concerns with competing dollars, travel times or work commitments, had more than 600 people from across the Air Force in attendance getting the latest updates and training information to provide the best service possible to Airmen at our installations.”
Master Sgt. Arkeisha S. Lawrence, financial operations flight chief at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, tuned in and believed in the event’s importance to the finance career field.
“It allows the experts to share information and policy changes to a huge audience at one time and allows people to ask questions directly to the experts,” Lawrence said. “If the experts aren’t familiar, there are other attendees who are able to answer the questions or share their experiences.
“The cross-talk throughout the financial management community is amazing and we continue to grow because of forums like this,” she added.
The workshop was full of updates and information shared by presenters and attendees across the Air Force, including best practices and lessons learned from sustaining financial capabilities in a COVID-19 environment.
“We have amazing Airmen solving Air Force problems virtually,” said Briscoe, one of the presenters during the event.
For example, one key topic during this year’s workshop was the Comptroller Services Portal, a customer relationship management tool fielded across the Air Force since the pandemic began. The platform allows customers to interact with comptroller squadrons while socially distanced, Briscoe said.
“The portal enables Airmen across the globe to submit a pay inquiry to their local finance (office) for action from anywhere they have connectivity, on any mobile device,” said Col. Brent Hatch, AFIMSC Resources Directorate deputy director.
In addition to eliminating the need to visit finance and wait for service, sometimes over a lunch break or during a day off, CSP offers transparent processing, Hatch added.
“Airmen who submit an inquiry can check the status of that inquiry in real time around the clock, to see whether it is at their local finance office, or has been elevated for review at AFIMSC or the Air Force Accounting and Finance Office,” Hatch said.
The portal, in development before COVID-19, was fast-tracked and rolled out at a record pace to every active-duty unit in under 10 months. We’ve never fielded any FM system that fast, Briscoe added.
The AFIMSC financial services team is currently working on the next iteration of the portal for the Total Force, using lessons learned.
Presenters also gave information and insight on the Air Force Integrated Personnel and Pay System, set to launch in 2022. Like CPS, AFIPPS is expected to streamline and improve service to finance customers.
“It will modernize and link pay and human resource systems that currently don’t talk to each other and require members to visit both finance and the military personnel flight when they have life changes (like marriage, divorce or children),” Hatch said.
In some cases, discrepancies between the current systems, like dependency status, can drive over or underpayments to Airmen.
“AFIPPS will allow the Airman to visit military personnel and have data entered into the system automatically update for both pay and personnel, eliminating potential overpayments and debts,” he added.
In addition to learning more about CPS and AFIPPS, Lawrence appreciated what the ever-expanding finance resource training center delivers to the field.
“Standing ovation and round of applause to the RTC! It’s a one-stop shop for all things FM and I love the products,” Lawrence said. “I just wish they were around years ago when I cross-trained and moved to different locations. I noticed everyone was doing things differently based on who had knowledge to do it. The RTC is taking that information and making standardized products so everyone can be on the same page. I absolutely love it!”