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Making sense with dollars

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- This time of year is always active for the financial management community.  Like clockwork, Sept. 30, rolls around every fall, and we put the finishing touches on balancing the books and close out another fiscal year. 

Even though this happens annually, the past few years have seen several events that are forcing us to change the way we operate during end-of-year closeout.  Every Airman needs to be aware of these environmental changes and better understand how vital their role is in the closeout process.  This will enable each of us to make a positive impact on our work centers by making sense with dollars.  

The current political landscape has created a great amount of budget uncertainty.  First, there is no guarantee that we will have an approved budget when our new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.  Recently, it has not been uncommon to wait six months or more to receive our initial distribution of funding.  If you couple this with the Budget Control Act, commonly known as sequestration, which reduced spending power across the Department of Defense, it creates an environment where we must covet each dollar to make certain we buy our mission critical requirements with limited resources. 

It is not always possible to fund these requirements throughout the year; however, if you stay engaged with your leadership and resource teams, end-of-year closeout can be used as an avenue to ensure you have everything you need to do your job and contribute successfully to the mission.  

Too often during this time of year, I overhear conversations about purchasing nice-to-have items because "it's end-of-year closeout and it's free money."  There is no such thing as free money.  We must change this mentality within our units, and it starts with each of us. 

Any money that your unit spends on a needless item means another unit may be forced to do without a mission critical requirement in an already stringent environment.  I am certain that everyone understands their role within their flight or squadron, but we need to recognize that we are part of a larger organization and consider how our actions affect Team Keesler. 

When you think about how your piece of the puzzle fits into the overall mission of Keesler, it can only help foster better decision making regarding which requirements to purchase. 

The current landscape is not likely to change soon.  As such, we must alter the way we look at end-of-year closeout.  Long gone are the days when your unit could over-stock supply closets and buy all of the useless equipment your unit requested because you felt you had to spend your money or you would lose it. 

End-of-year closeout is now one of the few opportunities available to take care of those requirements we were forced to push off because of funding limitations or changing policies.  Your input is essential to ensure we are funding our top priorities, and understand that regardless of your rank or position, you are vital to this process.