It ain’t easy countin’ green: 442d FM puts in the hours to close out the fiscal year 23

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Bob Jennings
  • 442d Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For an organization the size and scope of the 442d Fighter Wing, the books don’t just balance themselves. Every year on Sept. 30, though – the end of the US government’s fiscal year – it must be done.

This year, the team of four financial analysts gave up their Saturday to make it happen. Before the fiscal year can officially be closed out for the wing, the analysts have to coordinate with the commander’s support staff to ensure all unpaid orders have funds obligated to them, and that all drill pay has been processed. Additionally, they have to make sure travel vouchers have been filed and paid out, and that any projects the wig is working on have balanced budgets, and the various accounts or “pots of money” the wing controls are balanced.

“We try to get things in by the deadline. That makes it easier,” said Lovella Valelo, the director of financial management for the 442 FW. “It’s difficult, because it’s a live system.”

Even as the FM office works diligently to close out the books, the wing is still running. Members still have orders to submit for pay, drill weekends to make up, and travel vouchers to file.

“Daily operations are still happening as we’re trying to close out,” said Lesley Kleyh, a budget analyst.

This year, FM sent their final number to Air Force Reserve Command FM for final verification on Sept. 29. However, due to the number of wings in AFRC, the command’s analysts can get bogged down.

Once they submitted the results, it became a waiting game. If AFRC agrees with their numbers, the FM office can declare the fiscal year closed and go home. If not, it gets kicked back to the wing for recalculation. Sometimes that can happen because of an order that gets certified after the closeout. In that case, the wing has to find the funds to cover the perceived shortfall before resubmitting to AFRC. Sometimes, in those cases, the wing has the funds left over to cover it. Occasionally, they have to ask higher headquarters for the money.

Even if they do everything perfectly, though, some years other wings need to find funding for a late-closing order, and AFRC will pull that funding from a wing that has it, creating a perceived deficit and forcing the “lending” wing to recalculate and resubmit their closing numbers.

This year, in appreciation of their hard work, 442 FW commander Brig. Gen. Steve Nester brought in lunch and sat down to eat with the FM team.

Even having already closed out and sent their number to AFRC, Valelo still expects today to be a long haul.

“I’ve never left before midnight on Sept. 30,” she said, and recalled one year when the crew worked until 3:45 a.m. on Oct. 1.

The whole day isn’t spent waiting, though. Ever diligent, the FM team uses this time to catch up on training and keep their additional duties squared away.

Most years, close-out day is also used to prepare accounts for next year, including ensuring fiscal-year-spanning orders are rolled over correctly and getting the accounts ready for FY24’s funding allocations. This year, with a government shutdown looming, those important steps are put on hold.

“We don’t know what to project,” Valelo said. “We would normally have orders prepped to roll over into the new year, but the shutdown brings uncertainty.”