When one hears ‘end of year’ some may think of New Year’s Eve parties or New Year’s resolutions, but not at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. End of year means something completely different; it means long days, overtime and determination.
“Year-end provokes many different emotions,” said Jennifer Ott, financial management analyst, Resource Management. “You have the sense of foreboding of long days and stressful situations, the anxiousness getting through it, and the immense satisfaction with the successful execution of it.”
A fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. September is crucial in getting all expired funds obligated before the start of the upcoming fiscal year. Project managers, resource managers, budget and program analysts, contract specialists, Office of Counsel and other technical staff spend many hours working together to achieve this mission.
“When the clock strikes midnight on Oct. 1, our expiring funds are no longer useable,” said Misty Bock, deputy chief of Contracting Division. “For that reason, our team focuses on projects that are in jeopardy of expiration. We have a determined group who dedicate countless hours after their duty day to ensure that we deliver.”
Many employees put in extra hours in September to guarantee the district uses funds as prudently and diligently as possible.
“In our office, we work our compressed days, usually three Saturdays, one Sunday and late into the evening on the 30th,” Ott said. “Most of us work 50-60 hours of overtime in September.”
When employees say they work late on the last day of the fiscal year, they mean it. The Louisville District’s last contract was awarded at 11:58 p.m., Sept. 30.
“This year, in particular we had half a dozen contracting individuals burning the midnight oil to help award a critical renovation for Patrick Air Force Base in Florida,” Bock said. “The contracting officer, Emily Moore, literally pushed the obligation button with a couple minutes to spare.”
Although duties do not change when September rolls around, the pace is much faster during the month.
“I have these same duties throughout the year, but knowing how to prioritize them at the end of the FY (fiscal year) is very important,” said Heather Bauer, senior contract specialist/contract officer.
Several offices bring in food or host team lunches to help boost morale during this crucial time.
“We do weekly team building in September,” said Lena Perry, staff accountant, Resource Management. “This helps keep us all on the same page and encourages each other that we are all here to support the team.”
While September may be a little hectic at USACE, there is always a sense of camaraderie.
“While we all pitch-in and help each other throughout the year, it is really on display during the end of the FY,” Bauer said. “It may be just lending an ear for someone to vent or actually helping with execution, but we all pull together to make it happen.”
“The staff always rallies together and supports one another to successfully close the fiscal year,” Bock said. “It’s a privilege to be a part.”
USACE is obligated to abide by fiscal law. For any given sum of money, the USACE team must make certain they use it for the authorized purpose within the timeframes it is available and for the proper amount. Congress develops the budget for the U.S., and each dollar is approved for a certain need and must be spent within a certain timeframe.
“Louisville’s mission is quite vast, and we support not only a civil mission, but also a military mission,” Bock said. “We are driven to obligate as much as possible, because we want to ensure that the needs of our customers are met, because these needs ultimately support our economy and our citizens.”
The end of fiscal year is essentially the last opportunity to use authorized appropriations that must be spent to fulfill the need for which it was approved. If not, the money will often times return to the treasury.
“Some of us look forward to this time of year while others can’t wait for it to end,” said Louisville District Commander Col. Antoinette Gant. “In either case, I am delighted to be a part of a district that works together to get things done.”
Happy New Year!