Financial Transformation: Driving Innovation and Mission Performance in Government

Financial Transformation: Driving Innovation and Mission Performance in Government Successful…

February 17, 2022

Financial Transformation: Driving Innovation and Mission Performance in Government

Successful financial management brings together people, process and technology.

The Department of Homeland Security goes through a lot of fuel. Yet the sprawling federal department, comprised of multiple agencies with siloed financial management systems, historically hasn’t had a detailed picture of fuel consumption.

To correct that lack of visibility, DHS’s chief financial office analyzed the department’s fuel usage along the southwest border of the United States. A financial team integrated data sets for personnel and assets, fuel costs, contracts, types of work and mission goals. The analysis uncovered opportunities for improving efficiency, which led DHS to consolidate operations – and save millions of dollars.

Stacy Marcott, deputy chief financial officer, DHS, shared that anecdote during a recent financial webinar, Financial Transformation: Driving Innovation and Mission Performance in Government, the latest in a series developed by AFCEA Bethesda. Driving fuel efficiency is an example of how transformative, data-centric and integrated financial management advances agencies’ missions.

“As we become more efficient and effective and accurate in being able to link our financial data to mission operations, we’ll drive efficiency in the mission itself,” Marcott said. “That’s what financial transformation means.”

 Across the federal government, agencies are bringing innovation to financial management. Putting in place advanced tools – artificial intelligence, machine learning and  robotic process automation – is part of the puzzle. To attain true financial transformation, however, agencies must focus their efforts on business processes and enable the people who run them, webinar participants said.

“Once I understand the business, only then can we make that process more efficient. Then I can start looking at the technology that’s necessary to do this correctly,” said Adam Goldberg, acting assistant commissioner, Bureau of the Fiscal Service. “Otherwise, we’ll be automating a bad process.”

Webinar participants addressed a range of topics of relevance to financial transformation. Here are some takeaways:



Real financial transformation comes when you’re able to integrate financial data with other business support data to drive mission operations. – Stacy Marcott

One of the biggest challenges when you do an integrated business system is the multiple communities of practice that are involved in pulling it together. You all have to be rowing in the same direction. That’s not an easy feat to accomplish. – Marcott



In support of financial transformation, the Department of the Interior has rolled out annual financial management training programs for the entire finance team, everything from AI technology and robotics to corrective action plans. – Tonya Johnson, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, the DOI.

Consolidated training across agencies is a phenomenal experience and a great way to bring your community together. – Marcott

People have to understand what fraud looks like; training provides that. – Johnson


New Tools

Blockchain is a technique for transferring value between parties. Instead of working through a clearinghouse, like a bank or the Treasury Department, to hold the master record, it’s peer-to-peer. Everybody on the chain can see the transaction. With blockchain, transaction reporting is instantaneous. It’s a transformative capability. – Adam Goldberg

Modernization of finance is largely about optimizing the experience of people and data. Moving from spreadsheets and historical transactions to platforms where users can visualize and interact with data in real time elevates the financial experience. Digitizing finance increases collaboration . New technologies become an enabler of higher-value decision making, including performance measurement and forecasting. – Chidilim Okonkwo, Director, Agency Financial Systems Office, NASA HQ


Looking Ahead

A lot of the focus today is on robotic process automaton for streamlining repetitive things. Next, digital will go more into the cognitive side of things. Digital is unlocking value for solving problems. – Goldberg

Everybody that is a part of a team adds value.  Find ways to encourage participation from various levels and perspectives in the workforce. – Chidilim Okonkwo

Don’t get enamored by that bright shiny thing that seems new and unique. Remember the business. That’s where transformation efforts should jump off from –  analyzing the business. – Goldberg

I would love the Federal Government to have access to technology that is available in the private sector. I would ask Siri “how many outstanding vouchers need to be processed from my travel system today?” – Okonkwo


Financial Professionals, 2.022

Webinar participants had plenty to say about the capabilities financial professionals will need to succeed in a 21st century agency?

First, they will need analytic and problem-solving skills. Second, the ability to articulate what we’re doing well. Third, intellectual curiosity. People need to be willing to think outside the box. – Goldberg

I’m looking for someone to take risks. We constantly live with “this is the way I’ve always done it.” Feeling safe does not get us to where we need to be. I’m looking for someone who is innovative. We might fail, but we’ll learn from it. I want a communicator who reaches out, someone who can jump in and is willing to learn. Data analytics is important, but you need people who can analyze the data and analyze the situation. I look for people who are eager to change the way we do things. – Johnson

“I would like to see more psychological safety in organizations. Executive sponsorship in lines of business or segments that are more risk adverse creates a safe place for teams to … innovate. – Okonkwo





Thought Leadership