Lawson awarded ASMC Distinguished Award in Accounting (Individual)

Stiory by Steve Lawson, DFAS Corporate Communications

DFAS HEADQUARTERS, June 9, 2021 – Notice of Recommendations and Findings issued by two Independent Public Accountants prompted Defense Finance and Accounting Service Rome's Meghan Lawson to develop a process that addressed variances and mismatched transactions in the Fund Balance with Treasury accounts.

Lawson, an accountant in Accounts Maintenance & Control Fund Balance with Treasury (FBwT) – Departmental 97 Reconnaissance and Reporting Tool (DRRT), created an approach to analyze the large monthly data set and developed a series of 22 Microsoft Excel macros to delineate the data between true FBwT variances and mismatched transactions.

FBwT has been on the DFAS and DoD radar screen for a long time, and efforts continue to address issues related to unmatched or mismatched transactions.

Lawson's work to address these issues will be recognized during the Association of Military Comptrollers Professional Development Institute next week. She will receive the Distinguished Award in Accounting for an individual.

Lawson did not stop after developing the macros. Ensuring audit guidelines on internal controls over financial reporting were followed, she led working group discussions with key internal Audit Support (AuS) personnel. After discussions with the AUS group, she incorporated her macro-based analysis into a monthly workbook, identifying the line count with narrative statements, staging the results by customer.

"I am honored to receive the ASMC award," Lawson said, "It means so much to me that the impact of our hard work has been recognized."

Lawson's initiative allowed the team to reclaim 100 work hours previously spent on the manual review and assignment of the transactions and handling responses to Provided by Client (PBC) requests. The initiative saved $30,500 annually and enabled the team to focus on performing root cause analysis of true variances affecting FBwT transactions, aligning with their mission initiatives.

The proactive approach taken by Lawson to identify and isolate transactions with no net impact to cash within the DRRT FBwT data sets allowed her to become the designated Subject Matter Expert (SME) on her team.

Her macros identified 130,300 transactions totaling $4.58 billion Absolute (ABS) in FY20 previously deemed FBwT Tier 3 variances. Utilizing the additional hours this project saved and following her analytical approach to research and root cause of variances, the team identified an additional 57,000 transactions totaling $1.74 billion ABS. In FY20, the team cleared over 42,000 variances totaling $1.61 billion ABS ensuring each transaction cleared, maintained the required documentation and oversight ensuring the integrity of the accounting information.

Although both Independent Public Accountants reissued agency Notice of Recommendations and Findings after the FY20 Financial Statement audit, the NFRs referenced her team, by site, to have required internal controls in place and have made significant progress in addressing Tier 3 variances throughout the year.

"Our team developed a process to automatically identify 100-130 thousand mismatches on a monthly basis," said Lawson, "allowing the team to filter noise out and focus on true FBwT out-of-balances.

"Since implementation, we have root cause identified or cleared more than 120,000 transactions. Our focus continues to be increasing FBwT efficiencies in DRRT and leveraging our efforts to the future state, ADVANA."
The Advanced Analytics (ADVANA) suite of products is scheduled to include current DRRT FBwT data. Still, Lawson is fully engaged in cross-agency collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to ensure they implement critical coding into ADVANA logic before the migration.

"I'm proud of our team for everything we've accomplished over the last few years," stated Lawson. "I continue to be motivated to develop internal efficiencies to help our team succeed & improve FBwT's auditability."