The new DoD Financial Management (FM) Certification Program will increase “the credibility of the Defense Department in general and the DoD Financial Management Community in particular,” according to Bob Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), DoD’s Chief Financial Officer. 

In an online update on the status of the certification program, Hale writes that the certification program will have a “positive effect” on the FM workforce.  It will provide broader competence and knowledge, increased opportunities for career development, assistance in career planning, and professional credentials.

He is quick to point out that most of today’s financial managers are well trained and “are doing a great job meeting the financial management needs of the Department and its warfighters.”  The goal of the certification program, he says, is to “make our good workforce even better.” 

Both DoD and Congress want to improve the existing training program to meet today’s challenges and needs, Hale says.  The program must be able to adapt to the changing needs of the department by putting the right type of training when and where most needed.  It should also have a framework to help newer workers determine what kind of training best suits their career path. 

Hale emphasizes it was not necessary or cost efficient to develop a new certification program.  The concept was to make better use of existing training and provide additional opportunities in new areas.  The program uses the Defense Acquisition Improvement Act (DAWIA) and the acquisition workforce as a model for the program, focusing on the special needs of financial management.

Under the program, all FM workers (including all 05XX civilian Occupational Series and all military Finance or Comptroller occupational specialties) will be coded level 1, Level 2, or Level 3; with Level 1 as the basic level.  Each level will carry a minimum experience requirement.  Level 1 will require two years of DoD FM experience, Level 2 four years (two in DoD), and Level 3 eight years (six in DoD).  FM professionals will have 24 months to become certified. 

The program will be competency based using the 23 FM enterprise-wide competencies.  Certain competencies/proficiencies will be set for each level and required courses will be identified.  Leadership competencies and required leadership courses will also be identified for each level.

Although the program will impose no education requirements, it will recommend work to a Bachelor’s degree for Level 2 and “strongly” recommend work to achieve a Master’s degree for Level 3.  A  DoD FM 101 course that includes a variety of modules will be available online for use by all DoD FM personnel.

The program will have no requirement for achieving an FM-related test-based certification (e.g., CPA, CMA, CDFM, and CGFM).  However, it will recommend completion of one DoD-approved Test-based Certification Program at Level 2 and “strongly” recommends completion of one at Level 3.  On an ongoing basis, once certification is achieved, the program will require completion of continuing professional education (CPE) every two years:  Level 1—40 CPEs; Level 2—60 CPEs; and Level 3—80 CPEs.

Hale stresses that the certification program will institute developmental assignments that will allow FM workers to broaden their experience by working outside areas of expertise.  The program will also recommend one three-month developmental assignment for Level 2 and require one three-year assignment for Level 3.

According to Hale , his office is currently preparing a draft DoD Directive and DoD Instruction.  Pilot programs will be created in some Components this summer and fall and DOD will move to larger-scale implementation in 2013.