Program safeguards against fraud, loss

  • Published
  • By Carol Klein
  • Directorate of Financial Management
A program requires all agencies to establish and maintain effective management controls geared toward ensuring financial books are balanced; controls are in place to guard against any losses, to include those resulting from fraud, waste and abuse. 

The Manager's Internal Control Program is mandated by the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act of 1982. At ARPC, each directorate has representatives that participate in this program throughout the year. We maintain checklists that outline controls in place to ensure the organization is guarded against a loss. We meet quarterly to discuss these controls and actions taken when processes change, transfer or for whatever reason, fail. The program also requires mandatory annual training for all representatives.

Money and equipment are not the only resources that need to be guarded against a loss for the organization. Management controls apply to all aspects of the organization, to include things like training, building maintenance and security, records management, time and attendance, computer systems, safeguarded privacy act information and many others. 

Some examples are: discharge certificates, retirement certificates, blank DD forms 214 or other accountable forms. Management controls are in place to ensure these forms are only issued by proper authority to the intended recipient. 

Training is screened to ensure it is being provided to employees who will be able to use it in their capacity at ARPC, and TDY travel is limited to only that necessary for the organization.

Loosely managed organizations do invite fraud. Every year, real cases are reported throughout the Air Force. It is the responsibility of all ARPC employees to remain observant and question anything that seems unusual. 

Statistics have proven that the first indicator of fraud is people exhibiting changes in lifestyle, spending habits or behaviors. For example, an individual reportedly used money embezzled from the government to purchase several expensive automobiles. His neighbors detected this and reported him. Another example was the individual who sent a relative a large sum of money. It was investigated and found to be fraudulent electronic funds transfers. Each of us must be aware of what goes on around us and watch for unusual occurrences.

Attitude further contributes to the overall effectiveness of any process. It is incumbent upon supervisors to ensure rules are in place and enforced. The best defense is a good offense. Don't wait for the external inspections or audits before you identify problems. Policing ourselves is the best way to make sure we know what controls are needed, and that they continue to work.

This program culminates in the required annual Statement of Assurance. This statement is the vehicle through which our commander testifies to his superiors that he is certain his organization is in good shape and guarded against loss. 

Our directoratewide preparations, and ongoing checks and documentation of problems and resulting corrective actions, ensure this document has validity. 

The "call" for the SOA normally is received in April, with the final statement due to the Air Force Reserve Command in June. The report then is combined with other numbered Air Forces and is reported to SAF/RE. Ultimately, the Chief of the Air Force Reserve reports to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who in turn testifies before Congress. 

I can attest to the fact people are interested in what we do and how we do it, and we are held accountable for our effectiveness.

It is the job of every employee to be good stewards with the public funds we receive. We owe it to ourselves, our commander and ultimately the taxpayers, to ensure our resources are used wisely and safeguarded from misuse or loss.