Defense Financial Management & Comptroller School (DFM&C) History

  • Published
  • Ira C. Eaker Center for Leadership Development, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL

In a memo dated 21 Oct 65, Mr. Robert N. Anthony, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), tasked Mr. Leonard Marks, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management) to take the lead in a financial management study. His twofold challenge was to determine whether the DoD was doing an adequate job of educating comptroller personnel and educating all managers in DoD on the financial aspects of their jobs. On 11 Jan 66, Mr. Marks established a joint service task force to conduct a study of financial management education in the DoD. The Steering Committee consisted of Mr. Marks, Mr. Charles F. Baird, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management), and Mr. W. Brewster Kopp, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management). Thirty representatives from the three Services formed the Executive Committee, Advisors and other panel members. The study did not include the Marine Corps.
The study of Financial Management education in the DoD (known as the MEDoD study) primarily addressed the in-place training and education programs for financial managers supporting comptrollership functions. It also considered other courses containing financial management subjects that prepared other managers for the financial aspects of their jobs.
Public Law established the position of Comptroller in DoD and each of the military departments in the same timeframe as the National Security Act of 1947. The law reflected congressional appreciation for public concern about financial management and the resources required for defense. Nearer the time of the MEDoD study, Public Law 84-863 stated that the Secretary of Defense and each of the military departments should achieve and maintain a level of proficiency in financial management that ensures good stewardship of public resources for national defense.
Part of the findings of the MEDoD study included an analysis of the Service concepts of comptrollership: 1) The Army operates under the principle that comptrollers should be generalists rather than financial specialists. 2) The Navy concept is that all military officers are generalists. 3) The Air Force positions the comptroller as a financial specialist first and generalist second. However, the study noted that while the Air Force established a career path for officers in comptrollership, it did not have a formal career development program.
The MEDoD study concluded that current job and qualification standards indicated military departments tend to accept a lower level of professional competency in comptrollership than what the Public Law required. For example, an officer was considered fully qualified after only one year on the job, although there may have been no formal training or formal education in a comptroller-related field. The general recommendations of the MEDoD study were issued in a report dated 13 Mar 67. They addressed career planning and training and education. The Air Force developed the Professional Military Comptroller Course (PMCC) in response to the MEDoD study.
In 1968, PMCC began operations providing "education" versus "training" at the professional level. The course was intended to bridge the gap between functional area expertise and broad managerial responsibilities. The inaugural 12-week class of 23 Air Force students ran from 5 Aug 68 to 25 Oct 68. Initially, the course was to be conducted three times a year with 25 students. Beginning in 1969, the student load increased to 40. Later that year, the Air Force shortened the course to nine weeks.
In 1973, as a result of a Financial Management Improvement Conference among representatives of the three military Services and the DoD (Comptroller), a special task group recommended PMCC be made available to the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and other DoD agencies. At this time, the Army and Navy agreed to provide one highly qualified faculty member each. In 1973, the course reduced to eight weeks, the student load increased to 60, and the school's name was changed to the Professional Military Comptroller School (PMCS).
In 1992, the course was offered five times a year, and the course length was reduced to six weeks.
To make the course more relevant and academically credible, the Air Force transformed PMCS once more in 2004. This transformation included a complete revision of curriculum, the formation of a Cross-Service Advisory Committee, and a change in selection criteria. To complete the transformation, the Air Force, as Executive Agent, approved a name change for the school in May 2005. PMCS became the Defense Financial Management and Comptroller School (DFM&CS). The "Defense" prefix emphasizes the "Joint" nature of the student body and course content. Classes include more students from each of the military Services, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), and other DoD agencies than in the past. "Financial Management" was added to the title to reflect the inclusion of numerous financial subjects in addition to traditional military comptrollership. Course length was also shortened to four weeks. The enhanced learning environment included more interactive exercises and fewer lectures.
In 2005, DFM&CS recognized a lack of good decision support skills in students from various classes. This discrepancy identified the requirement for additional instruction in this area. The DFM&CS Director proposed the development of a decision support workshop to the Air Force FM Executive session in October 2005. In December 2006, the school received approval from Air University to establish a new one-week course to help educate members of the financial management community on the basic principles of decision support.
The DFM&CS tested the new Defense Decision Support Course (DDSC) in June 2007 and implemented four iterations of the new one-week course beginning in FY08 at Maxwell AFB. Due to the high quality of instruction and the relatively short duration of the course, installations began to request that DFM&CS bring the new course to their home stations in FY08. The DFM&CS faculty conducted four such classes that year with overwhelmingly positive response. To more efficiently use facility space and to increase the number of DDSCs the school could offer, the DFM&CS proposed and the Advisory Committee approved a course mix of four in-residence DFMCs, four in-residence DDSCs and six mobile DDSCs beginning in FY10.
In 2012, DFM&CS transformed DFMC to a blended learning construct in which approximately one-week's worth of material is completed via distance learning and three weeks are completed in-residence at Maxwell AFB. The first blended learning DFMC occurred in January 2013.
In early Fiscal Year 2016, the Air Force’s Financial Management Staff Officer Course (FMSOC) was discontinued at Keesler AFB, MS, and a replacement course, the Air Force Professional Financial Management Course (PFMC) was stood up at the DFM&CS at Maxwell AFB, AL. Expectations for the PFMC included an emphasis on education versus training, flexibility to make timely revisions, consistent decision support instruction, and alignment with the DoD Financial Management Certification Program – Level 2 requirements. The inaugural PFMC class began in late October 2015.
The DFM&CS faculty consists of members representing the Army, Navy, Department of the Air Force, and DFAS. The blended learning DFMC is offered three to four times a year with up to 45 students per class. The typical class reflects the demographics of the career field (predominantly civilian) and other defense partners. The four-day DDSC is offered both in-residence (twice a year) and as a mobile training course (8 - 10 times a year) at locations around the world. The four-week PFMC is offered seven times a year with 30 students per class.
DFM&CS courses are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission of Colleges, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, and the American Council on Education. This means CPAs, CIAs, CDFMs, CDFM-As, etc. can use our courses to fulfill their annual continuing professional education (CPE) requirements, and college students can use our courses to fulfill some academic requirements.