Accounting for Contingency Operations: The Role of Defense Finance and Accounting Service Denver
Hnat, David, DISAM Journal
From United Nations operations in Somalia and Bosnia to the search for John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s plane, the U.S. Department of Defense is actively involved in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations throughout the world. Under the general title of "contingency operations", these activities have financial aspects that require direct support from the Denver Center, as well as other offices in the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) network.
On October 1, 1994, the International Programs Branch within the Directorate of Security Assistance (DFAS-DE/ICCI), became the centralized cost consolidation, billing, collection, and reimbursement activity for contingency operations within the DoD. Prior to consolidation in Denver, the financial requirements associated with contingency operations were processed independently by the various DoD components and agencies involved. Then, as the variety of contingency operations and the level of support provided by the DoD increased, the need to consolidate and organize the financial aspects of this support became evident. Even now, five years after inception, the consolidation and organization of financial support for contingency operations within DFAS-DE/ICCI continues. Some examples of this support include consolidated cost reporting; billings to foreign governments and international organizations; Economy Act billings to other agencies within the U.S. government; Department of State foreign military sales (FM S); and non-combatant evacuation operations.
To consolidate the cost of contingency operations at the DoD level, certified cost reports are submitted by the DoD Components to DFAS-DE/ICCI on a monthly basis. In FY1999, the cost reporting process was supported by the input of fifteen DoD components reporting on sixteen contingency operations. The reportable operations in FY1999 included our involvement in Kosovo, Iraq, and Bosnia; humanitarian assistance to countries in South America following Hurricane Mitch; and peacekeeping operations in East Timor. Cost reports are received from major components, such as the Air Force and Army, as well as some of the smaller entities within the DoD, such as the Armed Forces Information Service, the Defense Commissary Agency, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. All are combined into a single report that provides detailed cost data by contingency operation, appropriation, and DoD Component. Once prepared, the report is distributed to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (C), Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (P&R), the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the component comptrollers, the Departments of State and Commerce, and other offices within the DoD.
The costs reported each month by DFAS-DE/ICCI can be separated into two basic areas: reimbursable and non-reimbursable support. If the support is provided on a reimbursable basis, the customer, whether foreign or domestic, is responsible for reimbursing the DoD for costs incurred. If the support is provided on a non-reimbursable basis, the DoD must initially finance the operation. Normally, DoD Components provide support to a contingency operation using funds appropriated for other purposes. Since every non-reimbursable dollar spent on contingency operations takes a dollar away from U.S. military forces, the accurate and timely reporting of costs by the various component comptrollers is essential. By consolidating all contingency operations costs in a single reference, the cost report provides a means for the DoD to request supplemental funding from Congress, as well as to provide detailed information on how appropriated funds are spent.
For the reimbursable portion of contingency operations, DFAS-DE/ICCI acts as the billing and collection agent for the DoD. The first of two reimbursable programs is the billing of foreign governments and international organizations. Based on the guidelines provided in Section 607 of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), the DoD recoups all costs incurred in the support of these various operations, with our major customer being the United Nations. …