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Assistant secretary: FM is enabler for programs

by Carl Bergquist
Air University Public Affairs

12/12/2007 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFPN) -- In providing security for warfighters and protecting national interests, the Air Force is often the first on scene and the last to leave and that requires enormous funding, said one of the Air Force's top financial officials Dec. 3 here. 

John G. Vonglis the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and comptroller addressed 38 financial management and comptroller chief master sergeants and talked to them about their roles in financial management during the Financial Management Chief's Conference at Gunter Annex .

Financial management priorities haven't changed and people have to understand that in a capitalized force, "large infusions of capital" are necessary to complete the mission, Mr. Vonglis said.

When asked if budget issues were leaving the Air Force with enough funding for today's needs and the needs of the future, he said he felt the service was doing the job.

"Taking self-help measures with the resources entrusted to us today, we are meeting our responsibility," Mr. Vonglis said. "If you're asking if I think we could use more funds, the answer is yes."

The conference brought the chiefs together to discuss the development of financial management members, to examine the Air Force Financial Management transformation, and to educate them on present and future changes within the career field.

Financial management members are "indispensable" to commanders and key decision makers in terms of giving advice, he said. They can provide leadership with tools that show where they are spending their money. They help decision makers make better choices, and help get problems solved more quickly. That is why financial managers are always relevant as advisers.

"Clearly FM is an enabler for programs, but it must also be an enforcer and an honest broker in providing commanders and decision makers with information at all levels," Mr. Vonglis said. "There are times when an action taken by a commander using public funds could land that commander in jail if done improperly. It is FM's responsibility to keep commanders informed and offer 'candid advice,' and that is a responsibility we take very seriously." 

Financial managers should stay relevant on topics, use their experience, and assist those who don't have the same experiences, he said. These are all parts of a "critical role" people in financial management have - a role that is often unappreciated until it is needed.

"Nothing is greater than to be able to contribute to the mission," Mr Vonglis said. "We are a nation at war, and sometimes we lose sight of that. But being able to work with troops in war zones--the people that keep our lives safe--makes my job a privilege."

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