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Monday, June 24, 2013

Sequestration, budget cuts taking their toll on DoD financial managers

Unprecedented chaos in the federal budget, impending civilian furloughs and an increasing workload are all contributors to a sharp, sudden decline in the morale of the staff that manages and executes the Defense Department's budget, according to an annual workforce survey released Wednesday.

The study, prepared by the American Society of Military Comptrollers and Grant Thornton, found that out of more than 1,000 financial management professionals surveyed, senior government executives were most likely to report a decline in morale. Within that group, 86 percent of respondents said they enjoyed their jobs "a lot" in last year's survey. By this year, the figure had plummeted to 53 percent. Lower-level financial managers reported a similar, though smaller decline in morale: 20 percent reported high job satisfaction compared to 24 percent in 2012.

With respect to budget uncertainty, the survey reflects deep dissatisfaction with the inflexibility of the across-the-board budget cuts under sequestration, the fact that the government seems to be in a perpetual state of continuing resolutions rather than full-year appropriations, and the ongoing indecision in the political arena about whether sequestration is here to stay.

Among the most senior members of the financial management workforce, the survey also revealed deep pessimism about DoD's ability to meet its Congressional mandates to assemble its financial statements so that they can be scrutinized by independent auditors. The survey found 23 percent of senior executives admitted they have zero confidence that their respective organizations will be audit-ready by the 2014 deadline for DoD to undergo a partial audit. Only three percent said they were "highly confident" that their organization would be prepared.

-Jared Serbu, FederalNewsRadio.com

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