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February Commander's Corner

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Maj. Marian Burgess, comptroller assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., June 11, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Marian Burgess, comptroller assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., June 11, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

After over years 20 years of working in Finance at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, I have learned many lessons.  Of upmost importance, is the reality that the “budget talks” and “federal spending budget cuts” headlines on the national news REALLY affect the way that we do business daily. When the new fiscal year is about to begin or has begun and an appropriations act has not been signed, a Continuing Resolution Act (commonly referred to as a “CR”) is enacted to provide budget authority for federal agencies and programs to continue operations. The term used for the time period that Federal agencies have to operate in the absence of a signed appropriations act is stopgap. 

As you may have seen in national news, fiscal year 2020 began in a stopgap with the first CR authorization end date of November 21, 2019. It was succeeded by another that ended one month later on December 20th with the signing of the budget by the President. Although it seems that even under a CR, life still moves at top speed for McEntire Joint National Guard Base. Congressional limits are placed on when and how we can spend during these specific time periods. The limitations placed on our funding requires leadership to make important decisions concerning the use of the resources we have been given; which is not an easy task.

Why is this important to you? Great question. The purpose for this government budget lesson is to show you that what you see or hear on the news in regards to federal funding, budgets passing, and the days the CR covers actually affects the workdays and travel dollars that the wing receives. In addition to the effect on how much resources are received, there is also a limitation on the time periods that the resources can be used. Days and dollars must be managed on a ‘day-by-day’ basis to avoid exceeding the expected level of the funding anticipated once the appropriation is passed.

During a CR, the wing is allotted enough funding to sustain “critical” mission requirements until the passing of the next CR or signing of the budget. The wing is only authorized to perform Regularly Scheduled Drills (RSDs), Temporary Duty (TDY) or other forms of Inactive Duty for the dates specified by the CR, but no more than that. Annual Training (AT) and Special Training (ST) days are also distributed sparingly during this time. For example, with the first CR period extending from October 1, 2019 thru November 21st, the base was not allocated days for members to perform December 2019 drill or any TDYs that started later than November 21, 2019. In addition, we were limited to the amount of funding that was allowed for other daily operations such as TDYs, purchasing uniforms, food for meals during drill, parts for aircraft, fuel, etc.

One of our most precious assets as Airmen in the Air National Guard is training. The stellar training that we receive at technical schools, as well as supplemental courses, allow us to excel at any task placed before us. In order to ensure that we have the funding that we need to train, it is imperative that our members remember to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money and allocate funds as directed. This means that if Airmen travel, especially during CR periods, travel authorizations should be filed in advance of the travel date and travel vouchers should be filed as soon as possible upon return from travel. These responsible actions will guarantee that unused funds are freed up and made available for others to have access to remaining travel funds.

To echo Col. Gandhi’s words from his December Commander’s Corner article… I challenge all members of the SCANG to make 2020 the Swamp Fox Year of Responsibility. Please ensure that you are aware of the challenges that effect military spending and our budgets at all times of the calendar year, as this has an effect on how we train and are equipped to perform our mission. Also, take responsibility of your medical, dental, physical fitness and administrative tasks to ensure that you are ready to Fly, Fight and Win when we are called!

Semper Primus!