Skip to main content

Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Working Capital Fund – February 2022

February 10, 2022

On Thursday, February 10, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on Implementing a Working Capital Fund and potential barriers to implementation.

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions between a relatively new operation and one or more established operations. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Recurring Moderators and Presenters:

Holden Hoofnagel, (WCF Chairman) serves as Director of the Office of the Secretary Financial Management, Department of Commerce (DOC). He is responsible for the management of the Office of the Secretary budgetary functions including development and oversight of the budget submissions to the Department, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Congress.​

Tony Scardino, Managing Principal, Grant Thornton, Tony Scardino is a Managing Principal in Grant Thornton’s Public Sector Advisory practice, where he leads a group of Former Government Executives (FGEs) that leverages the experience and expertise of the firm’s cadre of FGEs to help agencies work across the C-suite to improve mission outcomes, provide excellent service, and effectively steward taxpayer dollars.

The Symposium featured a moderated roundtable discussion with guest speakers including:

  • Kevin Derycke, Chief WCF Branch, Environmental Protection Agency, Kevin DeRycke is the Branch Chief of the EPA Working Capital Fund in the Office of the Controller tasked with overseeing the financial management operations of the fund. Kevin has 18 years of experience in government financial management, contract oversight, budget planning and budget execution. The EPA Working Capital Fund provides enterprise-wide shared services to all EPA offices as well as relocation services for other federal agencies. Our team is responsible for managing overall financial operations, developing annual budget & rates, policy oversight, and managing an annual audit conducted by an external CPA firm. Our team also works closely with the WCF Board of Directors and provides briefings to the EPA CFO seeking approval for all new WCF initiatives. Kevin has worked to expand the EPA WCF from two lines of business to the twelve that operate in FY 2022.

  • Devta Ohri, Director of Budget Formulation and Analysis Division, Department of Commerce,

    Mr. Ohri serves as the Director of Budget Formulation and Analysis, Office of the Secretary of Financial Management, Department of Commerce (DOC). He leads the formulation, execution, audit, internal controls, and compliance processes for the Office of the Secretary budgets, which includes DOC’s WCF. He is involved in all aspects of managing a WCF, including submitting and defending the budgets to the Department, OMB, and Congress. Mr. Ohri has been with the Federal Government for 17 years. In this time, he has implemented numerous business process improvements, including improving the cost allocation process related to DOC WCF budgets, for which he earned the Bronze Medal Award.

  • Thomas Herndon, Director WCF Division, US Department of Housing and Urban Development,

    Thomas Herndon is the Director of HUD’s Working Capital Fund Division and is responsible for the Fund’s management and day to day operations. Thomas joined HUD in 2016 and has been with the Working Capital Fund since its modern inception. In his time at HUD, he has overseen the development and implementation of the WCF’s operations end to end, including the development of HUD’s Cost Accounting System and the addition of new WCF business lines. Prior to joining HUD, Thomas worked for the Department of Justice in the budget office.

In the first part of the discussion, the panelists shared their experiences from the view of each specific agency. The WCFs of the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development Agency were presented by each respective panelist. The presentations included each WCFs founding, current status regarding size, financial situation, and services, and governance structure.

In the second part of the event, the panelists discussed the requirements and barriers to establishing a WCF. This included discussion of the following:

  • the identification of customers, products, and analysis of benefits to customers,
  • the internal coordination, external approvals, customer engagement, and formal change management process,
  • the calculation and obtainments of seed finances and the transfer of appropriated funding to the customer base, and
  • the accounting system and personnel changes

Following the roundtable discussion, the Q&A session focused on new lines of customers for these WCFs, best practices, audits, and what each panelist would change to address the issues they face in their WCF.

Working Capital Fund October – 2021

October 28, 2021

On Thursday, October 28, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on Risk Management challenges in WCFs.

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions between a relatively new operation and one or more established operations. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Recurring Moderators and Presenters:

Holden Hoofnagel, (WCF Chairman) serves as Director of the Office of the Secretary Financial Management, Department of Commerce (DOC). He is responsible for the management of the Office of the Secretary budgetary functions including development and oversight of the budget submissions to the Department, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Congress.​

Gretchen Anderson has more than 30 years of experience in government finance and an additional 15 years in private industry. She joined the Grant Thornton Public Sector team in 2020 to help WCF entities better mitigate risks and harness the benefits such a financing model can provide. Her expertise is in implementing financial policy, budget justification, administering financing and investment programs, and WCF pricing, projections, and cash and cost management.

The Symposium featured a moderated roundtable discussion with guest speakers including:

  • Al Runnels, Executive Director, American Society of Military Comptrollers, During his 27-year career in the US Army, Mr. Runnels commanded up through brigade level and also served as Chief of the Operations Branch in the J-8 Directorate of The Joint Staff in the Pentagon. He served as the first Commander of the 18th Soldier Support Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, NC, which consolidated Corps support responsibilities for the provision of personnel and finance services and operations under one group commander, including responsibilities of the XVIII Airborne Corps Finance Officer, Corps Adjutant General, and Commander of the North Carolina Area Casualty Command.
  • Kenneth Newton, Director, Service Delivery at NASA Shared Services Center, Mr. Newton is the Director of Service Delivery at the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) in Hancock County, Mississippi and was appointed to the federal Senior Executive Service (SES) effective March 25, 2012. Mr. Newton possesses over 15 years of engineering and aerospace technology experience, coupled with more than 17 years of program management and service delivery acumen.
  • Eric Smith, Chief of Staff, Defense Logistics Agency, Eric Smith became the Defense Logistics Agency’s chief of staff on May 9, 2021. As the Chief of Staff, he leads all Headquarters operations and directly supports six Major Subordinate Commands’ actions in strategic planning, enterprise integration, organizational governance, strategic communications, legislative affairs, small business programs, equal opportunity, and installation management. He supports eleven major DLA installations worldwide, as well as 27 distribution depots, 100 disposition facilities and 642 Defense Fuel Supply Points.

In the first part of the discussion, the panelists shared their experiences. Al talked about the challenges and successes of his implementation of ERM. Eric and Ken discussed formal ERM centers and the obstacles and breakthroughs they have had on that front.

In the second part of the event, the panelists discussed specific WCF risks including intrinsic timing, cost, and volume risks. They also talked about cultural challenges in developing an ERM program, budgetary risks, and how federal agencies generally think about ERM.

Following the roundtable discussion, Q&A breakout sessions allowed participants to discuss lessons learned from the talk and identify key ideas for future events.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – February 2021

February 04, 2021

On Thursday, February 4, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on Management Challenges in transforming WCFs into an efficient and strategic fiscal management tool. ​Government executives and managers discussed WCF issues, shared lessons learned, and gathered best practices.

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions between a relatively new operation and one or more established operations. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Holden Hoofnagel, (WCF Chairman) serves as Director of the Office of the Secretary Financial Management, Department of Commerce (DOC). He is responsible for the management of the Office of the Secretary budgetary functions including development and oversight of the budget submissions to the Department, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Congress.​

Gretchen Anderson has more than 30 years of experience in government finance and an additional 15 years in private industry. She joined the Grant Thornton Public Sector team in 2020 to help WCF entities better mitigate risks and harness the benefits such a financing model can provide. Her expertise is in implementing financial policy, budget justification, administering financing and investment programs, and WCF pricing, projections, and cash and cost management.

The Symposium featured a moderated roundtable discussion with guest speakers representing both the established (DISA, DLA) and new (DCSA) operations management perspective. Guest speakers included:

  • Zack Gaddy Chief Financial Officer, Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA)
  • Michael Scott Vice Director, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
  • Chris Barnhurst Executive Deputy Director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)

Zack talked about the progress and transitional organization of DCSA. Through vetting, industry engagement, counterintelligence support, and education, the agency secures the trustworthiness of the U.S. Government's workforce, the integrity of its cleared contractor support, and the uncompromised nature of its technologies, services, and supply chains. It delivers comprehensive background investigations for over 100 federal departments and agencies. With an operating budget of $2.5 billion, of which $1.36 billion in WCF, DCSA identifies near-term personnel security risks.

Michael and Chris also shared emerging matters at DLA and DISA, respectively. DLA supplies military and other Federal agencies with operating materials. It also provides warehousing functions and reverses logistics for military departments. DISA supports command and control, information-sharing capabilities, and a globally accessible enterprise information infrastructure.

In a discussion, the experts and practitioners evaluated three Management Challenges of WCFs. All of them continuously struggle to maintain solid customer relations as well as to preserve adequate cash balances. A further common issue is anticipating the future.

Following the roundtable discussion, Q&A breakout sessions allowed participants to discuss lessons learned from the talk and identify key ideas for future events.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – June 2020

June 18, 2020

On Thursday, June 18, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on WCF implementations in the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Holden Hoofnagel, (WCF Chairman) serves as Director of the Office of the Secretary Financial Management, Department of Commerce (DOC). He is responsible for the management of the Office of the Secretary budgetary functions including development and oversight of the budget submissions to the Department, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Congress.​

Mr. Hoofnagel provided an overview of the DOC assessment and pivot to Pandemic assessment. WCFs in the DOC work as non-appropriated accounts financing on a reimbursable basis Department-wide administrative services that are more efficiently and economically performed centrally. The Department’s WCF was established in 1944 with a mission of providing centralized services to the Bureaus.​ The WCF components are split into​ service providers and customers. ​12 different Offices provide services through 85 different projects.​

A conservative WCF operating model was effectively providing services and recovering the full cost of operation​, Mr. Hoofnagel pointed out. DOC runs a well-established, participatory governance approach that provides transparency into decision-making and overall WCF operation. Moreover, a disciplined budget execution process that uses budget as a template for funds controls guarantees excellent budget formulation and execution reports.

In the light of the COVID-19 Crisis, Mr. Hoofnagel briefly evaluated how agencies can protect fee-funded programs. In particular, he favors billing and reimbursements​, rate structures, and cost and performance monitoring.

The Symposium featured a keynote presentation by Michelle Picard. She is a Senior Advisor for Financial Management in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer at USPTO. In this role since August 2007, Ms. Picard advises the Chief Financial Officer on a wide array of financial management matters. She explained how USPTO developed and maintains reserves.

The USPTO is a full user fee-funded organization operating in the government environment. It needs to generate revenue and congressional appropriation. Patent and trademark fee collections must recover USPTO operating costs.​ It runs on a five-year, performance-based budget. Business unit requirements are allocated to a strategic goal and business line using sophisticated activity-based information models. There are fee discounts of 50% and 75% for major patent actions for applicants meeting small entity and micro-entity definitions, respectively.​

To mitigate the high risk for cash flow stress typically seen in fully fee-funded operations, the operating reserve is designated as available for use to sustain procedures. ​Fees in the reserve were appropriated in prior years and remain available until spent. To ensure planning for long-term financial stability, reserves are managed within a range of acceptable balances and minimum targets are set annually for the upcoming two years. ​Optimal levels are reassessed biannually. When balances vary significantly from the target range for an extended period, the USPTO assesses the causes of the variance and determines an appropriate course of action. The question of how much is an adequate operating reserve is best answered by examining environmental risk factors, mainly spending and fee collection.

Following Ms. Picard’s presentation, Q&A breakout sessions allowed participants to discuss lessons learned.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – December 2019

December 19, 2019

Agenda:

8:30a.m. –

9:00a.m.

Light Breakfast and Networking Opportunities

9:00a.m. –

9:15a.m

Welcome and Introductions to include Symposium Refresh from 2020

  • Symposium refresh to a larger Cost Management Symposium with 2 tracks
    • Working Capital Funds
    • User Fees

9:15a.m. –

10:00a.m.

A Presentation on TBM by Ms. Margie Graves, Federal Deputy Chief Information Officer, Office of Management and Budget

10:00a.m. –

10:45a.m

Working Capital Fund Assessment Presentation

The meeting’s objective is to receive an out brief on a digital current state assessment developed for WCFs. The survey was intended to provide a quick overview of the current state of an organization's WCF with respect to other survey respondents.

10:45a.m –

11:00a.m.

Wrap Up

Working Capital Fund Symposium – July 2019

July 09, 2019

On Tuesday, July 9, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on exploring the unique human capital challenges and opportunities in the WCF space.

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Keynote speaker Kevin E. Mahoney (Director of Human Resources & Chief Human Capital Officer​ in the U.S. Department of Commerce​, DOC) has over 40 years of human resource experience. Mr. Mahoney joined the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in May, 2003. In March, 2013 he was appointed the Director of Human Resource Management and Chief Human Capital Officer for the DOC. Previously, he has served as the Chief Human Capital Officer for the US Small Business Administration and as the Associate Director for the OPM’s Human Capital Leadership and Merit System Accountability Division. In his current role, Mr. Mahoney is responsible for advancing the strategic management of human capital at DOC and manages the Office of Human Resource Management.​

The second keynote speaker, Jeffrey Neal (Former Chief Human Capital Officer of the Defense Logistics Agency, DLA) has extensive federal human resources and information technology experience, having served as a career civil servant for 33 years, including 13 years as a member of the Senior Executive Service. He served as the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) for the 23,000-employee DLA from 2000–2009. At DLA, he identified more than $50 million in administrative and operational savings—a transformation cited by the Partnership for Public Service as a model for other federal agencies. Before joining ICF, Mr. Neal was appointed in June 2009 as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) CHCO. As Principal Human Capital advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security and CHCO for DHS, he was responsible for the development, execution, and oversight of human capital programs for a department of more than 234,000 civilian and military employees.​ Currently, Mr. Neal is the author for ChiefHRO, a blog where he shares insight and views on Human Resources, management matters, and more.

Following Ms. Picard’s presentation, Q&A breakout sessions allowed participants to discuss lessons learned.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – October 2017

October 26, 2017

On Thursday, October 26, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on WCF implementations in the Department of Labor (DOL).

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Janice Blake-Green​, Director of the Division of Client Financial Management Services at DOL, provided a comprehensive assessment of her department’s WCF implementation. DOL covers 10 million employers and 125 million workers. Founded in 1913, it is responsible for laws as the Fair Labor Standards Act​, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Employee Retirement Income Security Act​, and the Family and Medical Leave Act​, to name a few.

DOL’s Working Capital Fund was established in 1957. It is available without fiscal year limitation for the operation of a comprehensive program of centralized services in both the national and regional offices. The cost of such services is reimbursed in advance by DOL customer agencies. ​As a result of combined purchasing power, overall costs of services are minimized. The Deputy Secretary of DOL serves as Chair of the WCF Advisory Board. It offers enterprise-wide perspective and advice. The WCF Board may recommend strategic services, goals, and objectives, priorities, investments, funding, and shared service functions​, and the use of WCF reserves. The WCF Committee consists of customers and service providers. It reviews overall policies, procedures, systems, and regulations from an agency perspective to ensure effectiveness and compliance in administering the WCF and developing recommendations for changes. WCF Workgroups are created and managed by the WCF Advisory Board to address specific Departmental initiatives or time-sensitive issues, including performance accountability, cost allocation, and reimbursement ​price stabilization.

The major service category of DOL’s WCF constitutes IT services, support, and infrastructure with $180 million. Far behind, financial management and field services require $50 million and $42 million, respectively. The total WCF budget accounts for $400 million in the fiscal year 2018—a 58 percent increase in five years. Performance measures include financial and administrative services (e.g., good customer service), telecommunications (e.g., modern and secure IT infrastructure), and human resources (e.g., vacancies filled promptly). The overall objectives are consistency, efficiency, and transparency.

In the end, Thomas Herndon, member of the WCF Division in the Office of the Assistant CFO for Budget, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), reported on updates in the Working Capital Fund Interagency Working Group​ OMB Max Collaboration Site​. Finally, Jennifer Ayers, the Director of the Office of the Secretary of Financial Management in the Department of Commerce (DOC), evaluated WCF readiness existing assessments.

Following the presentations, Q&A breakout sessions allowed participants to discuss lessons learned.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – July 2017

July 13, 2017

On Thursday, July 13, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on WCF implementations in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Grant Turner serves as Budget Officer at CDC​. Karen Stamey is the responsible WCF Manager.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the CDC maintains facilities in 15 additional locations in the U.S.​ with more than 22,000 staff in more than 150 occupations. Its main obligation is to control, contain, and eliminate health threats​, monitor health, and rapidly detect and investigate diseases, outbreaks, biosecurity threats, and environmental hazards.

Congress authorized CDC to begin operating a WCF in the fiscal year 2014 to “improve the provision of supplies and service”. In advance, CDC spent 2 years developing the WCF structure and initiating an Agency-wide change management approach. The financial management, service providers, and customers were heavily engaged throughout this phase. A Governance Board presides over a Steering Committee, and Working Group, and several Focus Groups, which focus on upcoming issues. WCF rates are based on the objective of full cost recovery for each service line.

In addition, the CDC provides a WCF customer portal, which contains all customer-specific information. These include WCF publications, consumption and billing data, billing dispute, inquiry management, and a calendar of events. It also reveals the performance measures and targets. The financial performance focuses on maintaining fund solvency. Operational and customer service performance aims for frictionless business procedures.

CDC identifies three opportunities with the WCF. A stable source of funding for service provision during fiscal uncertainties is supposed to guarantee predictability. Enhanced communication between customers and service providers enhances effectiveness. Moreover, customers have better insights into their costs for services.

Last but not least, Mr. Turner and Ms. Stamey presented their four lessons learned regarding the WCF. First, it might be best to start small, originate broader service categories, and expand as the fund matures. Not only does this allow the opportunity to develop processes over time, but also facilitates a steady change management process for customers and service providers. Second, good data is the key to be able to provide reliable and consistent data for accurate billing. Third, to think sustainability as processes are being developed. Processes should stand the test of time. And finally, to incorporate flexibility. In the startup phase, adjustments should be allowed to be made to think through the decision-making process of what is billable and what kind of service agreements are included in the rates.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – April 2017

April 20, 2017

On Thursday, April 20, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on change, process improvements, and efficiencies of WCFs.

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.


Jim Taylor, Managing Director with Grant Thornton LLP's Global Public Sector, has more than 30 years of experience in government finance, systems implementation, and grants management. Before joining Grant Thornton, he served as the Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Mr. Taylor provided an overview of Working Capital Fund accomplishments and discussed topics brought up in past symposiums.

Jennifer Ayers serves as the Director in the Office of the Secretary of Financial Management, Department of Commerce (DOC). She is responsible for continuous review, re-engineering, and streamlining of reimbursable services in the Working Capital, and Advance and Reimbursement accounts. She opened up a roundtable discussion about WCF changes, process improvements, and effectiveness focusing on the impact of changes in the fiscal administration in the first quarter of 2017. Chris Richey, Branch Chief of the WCF/IFF Division in the Office of Budget, Department of the Interior (DOI), discussed how cuts impact his agency’s decision making and how his Working Capital Fund is often being asked whether savings are available. He initiated a discussion of how WCFs can prove that they are saving their agencies money. The DOC found that focusing on which services are provided and prioritizing them was a valuable experience.

Chris Richey talked through the results of the Strategic Interest Group (SIG) survey regarding WCF governance and decision-making processes. The SIG aims to develop solution papers around issues that are key to the WCF group. It highlights 2-3 topics that will be researched in the 3 months between the WCF Symposia. The Governance SIG purposes to document common issues that WCFs face around governance and provide a summary of best practices identified by surveying a core group of WCFs. Therefore, a survey of five agencies and departments was conducted that included 42 questions. Responses to these questions were compiled, analyzed, and presented to the Governance SIG. The main research areas were Board composition, performance and reporting, customer communication, and fund management. Mr. Richey recommended increasing access to information in advance of meetings by providing briefing materials and other documentation to improve meeting preparedness. He furthermore suggested to consider establishing voting procedures such that only members who purchase the services impacted by the vote are eligible to vote on the issue in question to reduce uninformed voting. Aligning WCF performance measures with the agency's mission so that performance measures are relevant to the agency and inform the decision-making process could also be a valuable practice.

Leigh Sheldon of Grant Thornton provided an update of the OMB MAX Collaboration site for WCFs. This will be a platform to assist federal agencies in adopting a more modern WCF approach to help address critical issues and solve problems that are common to the group. Website permissions, structure, and content uploads will be managed by NAPA/Grant Thornton to standardize, consolidate, and optimize the site management process.

Finally, Jennifer Ayers provided an update on the readiness assessment overview, which
will evaluate whether a WCF is a right tool for a department or agency. A readiness assessment is oriented around a three-phased approach: data collection and analysis, report development and submission, and review and decision. Similarly, the existing operations of a WCF can be assessed. As a result, departments can start an as-is assessment, conduct a gap analysis, and receive recommendations on how to enhance operations. Ms. Ayers would like practitioners to be involved in designing the readiness assessment and invited attendees to participate.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – January 2017

January 12, 2017

On Thursday, January 12, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on the WCF implementation in the U.S. Government and Accountability Office (GAO).

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

The meeting was introduced by Teresa Gerton, President and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, and Jennifer Ayers, Director in the Office of the Secretary, Financial Management at the Department of Commerce (DOC).

Leah Nash, who serves as Assistant Director of Strategic Issues in the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), conducted a presentation on WCF performance and accountability from her agency’s perspective. A discussion was moderated by Jim Taylor, Managing Director for Grant Thornton’s Global Sector Practice.

Subsequently, Chris Richey, the Revolving Fund Manager in the Division of Budget Administration and Departmental Management in the Office of Budget, Department of the Interior (DOI), delivered an update on the Strategic Interest Groups.

Conclusively, the next steps for the Working Capital Fund Symposium were evaluated.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – October 2016

October 13, 2016

On Thursday, October 13, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Working Capital Fund Symposium on WCF implementation in the Department of the Interior (DOI).

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Dan Blair, President and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, welcomed the group and thanked the Working Capital Fund Symposium organizers and this quarter’s guest speakers from the Department of the Interior.

The DOI was represented by Thomas Wayson, Division Chief, Division of Budget Administration and Departmental Management, Office of Budget, as well as Chris Richey, Revolving Fund Manager, Division of Budget Administration and Departmental Management, Office of Budget, and James Beall, Associate Director (Acting), Enterprise Management, Interior Business Center.

The Department of the Interior’s presentation discussed the Department’s Working Capital and Franchise Funds, looking at the budget and legislative authorities, service providers, and governance structures involved in the management of each. The discussion centered on the unique position of each fund within the Department especially challenges working with both DOI and external customers to understand the varying regulations between the two funds.

Mr. Richey discussed the initial activities of the Rate Setting Strategic Interest Group (SIG). The group is involved in HHS, EPA, FDA, DHS, and GSA, and thus far volunteer members have met to discuss roles and responsibilities within the group and governance pain points. The next steps for the Governance SIG are the development and internal distribution of a survey to collect additional information on governance issues and best practices.

Jennifer Ayers, Chairperson, Working Capital Fund Symposium, discussed the ongoing formation of a WCF Readiness Assessment, which is being developed jointly between Grant Thornton and the National Academy of Public Administration. The purpose of the assessment will be to evaluate an agency’s WCF culture, performance, progress, and resources in order to identify major needs and gaps.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – July 2016

July 14, 2016

On Thursday, July 14, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Symposium on the topic “Building from the Ground Up – Establishing a Working Capital Fund” using the example of Architect of the Capitol (AOC).

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Joe Mitchell, Director of Academy Programs at the National Academy of Public Administration, and Carlos Otal, National Managing Partner of Public Sector Services and Solutions, Grant Thornton, welcomed the group and spoke to the partnership between the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton in sponsoring the Working Capital Fund Symposium.

Jennifer Ayers, Director in the Office of the Secretary, Financial Management at the Department of Commerce and Chairperson of the Working Capital Fund Symposium, highlighted the symposium’s past year’s activities and introduced this quarter’s speaker, Tom Carroll. He serves as Chief Financial Officer of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC). Founded in 1876, the AOC is a
nonpartisan, professional services office with responsibility for more than 17.4 million square feet of facilities and more than 587 acres of grounds. It is responsible for the maintenance, renovation, and new construction of the buildings and grounds on Capitol Hill. Mr. Carroll discussed how the AOC has been working to establish a Working Capital Fund over the past year. Their $661.8 million budget is currently funneled into ten separate appropriations that feed into nine separate division accounts and one central account. The WCF will streamline the allocation of expenses for AOC’s Construction Division from across these 10 appropriations. This will replace the current allocation process, which is manual, cumbersome, and non-transparent.

Three takeaways from Mr. Carroll’s presentations are to be highlighted. Firstly, the benefits of the working capital model for AOC’s Construction Division were discussed. This model is particularly useful because it acts as the single source for all indirect and direct expenses, specifically regarding employee and contractor leave. Furthermore, the working capital model enhances flexibility, reinforces the customer-supplier relationship, and simplifies financial reporting and the pricing process. Secondly, Mr. Carroll reflected on AOC’s time preparing to disseminate and present their WCF plan. It was expected that the most resistance would come
from Department heads. Surprisingly, however, Congressional staffers turned out to be the biggest headache due to an acute lack of knowledge regarding the intersection of appropriation law and Working Capital Funds. Carroll suggested that the Academy could prepare a primer for Congressional staffers to dispel common myths about WCFs. Thirdly, there are Mr. Carroll’s “Newbie” observations on revolving funds: pretty much everyone has at least one revolving fund, which means they are not new to government and have been used successfully in virtually every
department. However, there is not a lot of recent knowledge on how to start one, including amongst current Congressional staff and leadership.

Following Mr. Carroll’s presentation, Renee Miller, Director of the Working Capital Fund Staff, Office of the Controller in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), presented the first WCF Strategic Interest Group (SIG) White Paper. The “Rate Setting – A Benchmarking Study” white paper documents common issues that WCFs face around rate-setting and provides a summary of best practices identified by a survey of a core group. This survey of six agencies and departments included 22 questions. Responses were compiled, analyzed, and presented to the Rate Setting SIG. In summary, it was observed that the six agencies and departments have varying levels of maturity in terms of WCFs and rate setting.

The SIG found numerous enhancements that can be conducted to make these WCFs more mature. It suggests a complete planning and budget formulation as well as rate setting in the budget year and for the subsequent or possibly two fiscal years. Furthermore, reviewing rates every quarter and revising them in the budget year as appropriate or annually is recommended. Also worthwhile would be to assess current cost accounting support capabilities and develop formal cost accounting processes to identify different cost pools and their individual components to help
calculate rates appropriate for full cost recovery of operations.

As the next step, Jennifer Ayers announced the formation of a Governance Strategic Interest Group, which will be led by Chris Richey from the Department of the Interior. Ms. Ayers also discussed the OMB MAX community that will be used by the WCF Group to manage communication and share documents. All members of the group will be invited to participate.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – April 2016

April 14, 2016

On Thursday, April 14, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Symposium on the topic “10 Years of the NASA Shared Services Center – A Retrospective”.

​The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Dan Blair, President and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, welcomed the group and thanked the guest speaker Anita Harrell, Director of Support Operations Directorate, NASA Shared Services Center. For 10 years now, NASA has celebrated their Shared Services Centers with locations across America. The NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) provides high-quality services and achieves cost savings for NASA through consolidation, standardization, and automation. NSSC has found success in establishing a caseworker approach and contracting methods that are constantly praised by OPM.

Ms. Harrell discussed factors that make shared service centers successful, including data integrity, a formal governance structure that includes customer advisors and oversights groups, structured management of customer interactions, service level agreements and service level indicators, and accurate cost estimates. Some notable lessons that have been learned from the past 10 years are that sometimes the least offensive approach is the least efficient, she pointed out. Additional lessons learned include: validating service level indicators before transition, giving equal attention to how rejects are handled, and designing the optimum process for handling rework. It is furthermore rewarding to baseline the pre-transition process (volume, timeliness, quality, customer satisfaction, and costliness), resist designing a process that involves customers in performing the work, and allow them to retain their resources. The mission of the NASA WCF is “to establish a revolving fund that promotes economy, efficiency and accountability with fully reimbursed rates while focusing on streamlining operations, extending resources and measuring performance, and improving customer satisfaction” and is focused on supporting shared services use.

Jennifer Ayers, Chairperson of the Working Capital Fund Symposium, discussed the continuing formation of Strategic Interest Groups (SIGs), the purpose of which will be to develop solution papers around issues that are key to the WCF group. A Rate Setting SIG has already been established, and volunteers will be solicited for the formation of groups on governance, decision making, and reporting requirements.

Renee Miller, Director, Working Capital Fund Staff, Office of the Controller, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, discussed the initial activities of the Rate Setting SIG. The group is involved in DOD, DOC, EPA, CDC, DHS, and others, and thus far volunteer members have met to discuss rate-setting pain issues and a survey has been sent to collect additional information regarding rate-setting activities of group members.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – January 2016

January 14, 2016

On Thursday, January 14, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted a Symposium on the topic “Pulling it All Together – Shared Services and the Working Capital Fund”.

The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

Dan Blair, President and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, welcomed the group and thanked the presenters. Dave Mader serves as Controller for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Beth Angerman is the Executive Director of Unified Shared Services Management in the General Services Agency (GSA). Brian Nichols is a Policy Analyst for the OMB.

The presentation focused on OMB’s work in supporting shared services across federal agencies. The objective is to improve efficiencies and service delivery through commonly agreed upon tools and approaches. Currently, multiple shared service initiatives are independently led with inconsistent guidance across service areas, federal agencies, lines of business, and providers. This can impact the ability to make long-term investments, a scale for large customers, and expand service offerings. OMB reviewed more than 100 documents to identify improvement possibilities, including case studies, industry reports, policy directives, and guidance. To achieve a consistent funding model, a three-step guide is recommended. At first, a common interpretation of authority must be established. Therefore, an agency has to issue guidance defining the calculation for retained earnings (annual v. cumulative). Most importantly, consistency in operating reserve policy including permitted uses of reserves should be achieved. In a second step, consistent pricing methodology and governance are enforced. It is about defining a consistent costing and pricing methodology across providers, including the option for service bundles and alignment to service catalogs. Thirdly, transparency can be improved by implementing ProviderStat—a performance management framework promoting oversight and transparency of shared services operations, investment plans, budgets, and growth strategies.

A good portion of the following discussion focused on the intersection of shared services and the WCF to identify opportunities for continued success. It was moderated by Jim Taylor, Managing Director for Grant Thornton’s Global Sector Practice, and WCF Working Group Chair Jennifer Ayers, WCF Manager in the Department of Commerce. The roundtable featured an introduction of the Unified Shared Services Management (USSM) office, which is a new government-wide management and oversight model for mission support functions and will serve as a shared service ecosystem working across functions, providers, and consumers. This office will be led by Beth Angerman. The main challenge in moving forward with shared services is customer service and capital needs, and the questions of how to fit both into programs reliant on appropriated funds. The speakers proposed that revolving funds are central in the evolution of shared services. Within shared services, a common complaint is the uneven playing field with financial management for the departments involved, which may prevent the offering of specific services or expanding the model to cabinet-level agencies. Revolving funds offer the ability to level the financial playing field. More broadly, both sides are experiencing a need to compile their lessons learned to help ensure smooth future adaptation. It was heard from this presentation that OMB and GSA are working to create a “playbook” based on lessons learned so that the investments are implemented consistently across agencies as more agencies and departments adopt the shared services model.

The meeting was convened with the agreement that an overview of the event would be shared with the group in attendance as well as those who could not attend and that details of the next convening would be communicated shortly. I was also agreed that the group’s organizers would take steps to assist the group in establishing channels of communication for sharing best practices and answering technical questions outside of the quarterly meetings.

Working Capital Fund Symposium – September 2015

September 17, 2015

On Thursday, September 17, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted the initial Working Capital Fund Symposium.

The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.

The meeting was introduced by Jim Taylor and Jennifer Ayers. Mr. Taylor is a Managing Director with Grant Thornton LLP's Global Public Sector. He has more than 30 years of experience in government finance, systems implementation, and grants management. Before joining Grant Thornton, Mr. Taylor served as the Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Jennifer Ayers acts as the WCF working group Chair and WCF Manager in the Department of Commerce (DOC). As Chairperson, she will act as the voice of the WCF Interagency Working Group, representing the group as its figurehead.

During his time in government, Mr. Taylor created a WCF in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and had to overhaul the WCF at the Department of Labor. As a major benefit of WCFs, he named that agencies prefer a way to have capital investment and at the same time being able to respond to the demands of mission support more quickly. They want to be able to move resources around in a transparent way. At DOL he saw WCF issues and thought to set up a more structured process to bring WCF leaders together and have discussions regularly. Maybe this can be a forum to make some real changes to WCFs. The target members are federal agencies, human capital professionals, IT, budget, and performance professionals. The objective is not to isolate WCFs but bring together people who have solutions for them.

Ms. Ayers called this forum a place to share ideas. WCFs are growing and hence to become more important, and as they do solutions need to be found. There is no reason why a government-wide WCF council does not exist yet. The working group is going to go out between each meeting and figure out what issues people want to address. Many of the issues of WCF are very common and must therefore be shared to address them jointly. For example, she created a group for representatives from the DOC WCFs to share practices through a Commerce WCF Group, which has been very helpful. DOC’s WCF resides in the office of the Secretary. It is now the third year of having everyone come and report to one group. It made a huge difference in how to manage the WCF.

In a Q&A session further issues, benefits, and opportunities of WCFs were discussed.