Improper Payment Team receives meritorious award (Large Team) during ASMC PDI

Story by Tony Hardman, DFAS Corporate Communications

CLEVELAND, June 9, 2021 – Every year, the American Society of Military Comptrollers Awards Program recognizes the amazing achievements throughout the FM workforce. This year, the Enterprise Standards and Solutions (ESS) Improper Payment Team won the Meritorious Award in the Large Team category for their implementation of a new improper payments tool.

In 2010, as a requirement of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) began using a commercial tool called business activity monitoring (BAM) to detect improper payments to contractors and vendors. The act requires federal agencies to make every effort to confirm that the right recipient receives the right payment, for the right reason, at the right time. Lead Accountant for the Improper Payment Team in ESS Accounts Payable, Cristie McClellan, explained how BAM fulfilled this requirement.

"It received daily files of new invoices and updates to existing invoices from six different entitlement systems. Those files are run through a series of business rules that DFAS has developed to look for different types of errors such as duplicate payments, payments to the wrong vendor and financing errors."

The BAM contract had an expiration date for 2020. The team explored new technology, evaluated alternatives, and landed on the Department of Defense (DoD) Advanced Analytics (Advana) platform. Implemented in a virtual environment in just seven short months, Advana is set to save money and expand upon the capabilities of the legacy tool.

"We chose Advana because it's government owned, which means there's a cost savings to DFAS of $20.7 million over the next five years in switching to it. There's also a lot more opportunity to expand improper payment detection beyond what it was with BAM by using existing interfaces and data that Advana has throughout the DoD," McClellan said.

Implementing Advana in a virtual environment required a team with a diverse set of skills and expertise. Putting this tool in place in such a short amount of time required a collaborative effort between ESS Accounts Payable, Accounts Payable Operations at each DFAS site, DFAS IT, BAM Project Management Office, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (OuSD).

McClellan and the collaborative teams are now in phase two, expanding Advana to other entitlement systems beyond what BAM offered. This will include Army's General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS), Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Defense Agencies Initiative (DAI).

The final phase will expand upon current business rules to help identify new improper payments and potential fraud from advanced data available in Advana.

Over the past ten years, BAM helped prevent 68,992 improper payments totaling $16.8 billion. In its first two weeks, Advana helped prevent $416 million in improper payments. Thanks to the tool's advanced analytics, DFAS expects to see even more success in improper payment detection in the coming years.
Congratulations to the Improper Payment Team for a job well done:
David Cottengim
Alicia Rucker
Kyle Boehnlein
Michael O'Neal
Minnie Breaux
Richard Quenichet
Tara Bruns
Cristie McClellan
Kerri Jewell
Kathryn Sieve
Raymond Bombac
Erica Randall
Derek Brown
Paul Giambrone
Benjamin Novotny
Catherine Relihan
Bryan Harrell
Jeffrey E Rubin
Zachary Tubb
Frederick J Miller