JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
Budget analysts representing every Air Force major command successfully closed out fiscal year 2017 from a war room established at the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s headquarters in San Antonio.
With the Air Force’s third largest budget, AFIMSC executed $5.945 billion for the fiscal year, $86 million of which covering every wing commander’s top priority. Installations received $2.3 billion in Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization projects and $10 million for quality of life projects, a $3 million increase from FY 2016.
Capitalizing on lessons learned from its first fiscal year close out in 2016, AFIMSC officials established the war room, similar to an air operations center or NASA’s Mission Control Center, where budget analysts from each of the 10 AFIMSC global detachments worked with base budget analysts, sharing fiscal year close out status of installations within their respective major commands.
“We had Air Force-wide representation whose presence enhanced an AFIMSC enterprise effort that shortened the kill chain from money materializing during close out to re-obligation of the funds toward priorities pre-established with the (Major Commands),” said Col. Burke Beaumont, deputy director of AFIMSC Resource Management Directorate.
Beaumont said having all of the budget analysts in the war room created synergy, solved communication and manpower issues experienced during past fiscal year close outs and increased AFIMSC’s capacity to obligate funding to the next requirement more quickly and efficiently.
“The operations tempo from last year (end of year close out) demonstrated that it is exceedingly difficult to exploit the MAJCOM expertise available to put funding on contracts,” he said. “In the war room, budget analysts hear the dialogue in the room, update the MAJCOMs, and we get nearly immediate feedback from MAJCOM leadership.”
The war room gives AFIMSC more mission capability for wing commanders to fund more projects quicker, according to Col. Quy Nguyen, AFIMSC budget director.
“Each detachment briefs its status from the night before,” Nguyen said. “We talk about our number one concerns and key drivers for execution. Having detachment budget analysts listening in meetings with leadership allowed them to take immediate action.”
The successful end of year close out capped a challenging fiscal year for the Air Force. A continuing resolution that was originally expected to last for two months was extended multiple times, eventually causing a seven-month delay of initial distribution funding. The Air Force also endured a civilian hiring freeze imposed in January that provided additional challenges on the Civil Engineer and Contracting functions that rely on civilian Airmen to plan and prepare projects and work the funding for them.
“The teamwork, training, expertise, and commitment we have within the AFIMSC enterprise helped us not only overcome the challenges, but we increased our credibility with (Office of the Secretary of Defense),” Nguyen said.
Congress mandates for the Air Force to obligate 80 percent of funding by 31 July. Air Force Materiel Command set an even higher standard to obligate 83 percent of funding. Despite the seven-month delayed initial distribution, AFIMSC exceeded those goals, obligating 84.4 percent of funding by the deadline, the highest percentage in Nguyen’s 22-year career.
“A good year would have been to meet the 80 percent requirement,” Beaumont said. “But we surpassed the goals quietly with a gigantic demonstration, and we’ve taken calls from Air Force leaders in the beltway who are amazed at what we’re doing here.”
Nguyen said AFIMSC’s strong first year set even greater expectations for the organization in year two.
“During our first year, we could always say, ‘it’s our first year,’” he said. “In year two, the expectations were so much greater. Our customers said, ‘show us the progress,’ and they want to see how we’ve improved our processes.”
Nguyen said AFIMSC excelled while a large number of staff from the organization’s initial cadre rotated out, taking with them corporate memory.
“We came together and kept plugging away relying on hard work and focus on Air Force core values that won’t allow us to fail,” he said.
Beaumont experienced his first fiscal year close out as a member of the AFIMSC team. He arrived in July from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, where he served as commander of the 82nd Mission Support Group, a position that gives him unique perspective as a former AFIMSC customer.
“As with my AFIMSC team, I was blessed to work with another great team at Sheppard,” Beaumont said. “That team quickly learned to integrate with, contact and visit AFIMSC to learn the way and models for the new process. As a result, we did very well in acquiring funds because we understood how the process worked and integrated with warfighters to understand the requirements.
Beaumont said from his seat at AFIMSC, it’s easy to identify the bases that understand that synergy.
“My former colleagues who were not as successful with acquiring funding had not yet adapted from the legacy mentality or how they thought it was or should be,” he said. “What we offer them from AFIMSC is our focus on supporting warfighters, working with bases to build budgets so that we understand what the warfighter needs because they communicate those needs to us.”
Through stronger and more improved communication across the enterprise, AFIMSC executed a more efficient and effective end of year close out, he said.
“It would have been difficult for a single MAJCOM to source the dollar amounts we were able to obligate in the last couple of weeks of the fiscal year,” Beaumont said. “With the war room, we had the synergy to see what is in the realm of possible, and our possible is so much bigger now.”