No money, no mission: A deep dive into Wright-Patt's 88th Comptroller Squadron Published April 21, 2023 By Hannah Carranza 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Embroidered on the 88th Comptroller Squadron patch is the no-nonsense phrase “No money, no mission,” which perfectly sums up this team’s mission of providing world-class financial management and services through support and superior customer service to ensure the wing’s continued operations, deployments, and defense. An image of the 88th Comptroller Squadron’s patch taken Jan. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. As the largest comptroller squadron in the Air Force, 88 CPTS is responsible for managing 32% of the entire Air Force budget. (U.S. Air Force photo by Hannah Carranza) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res As the largest Comptroller Squadron in the Air Force, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base CPTS is responsible for managing 32 % of the entire Air Force budget. This is made possible by a team of 145 military and civilian personnel, organized into six flights that form the backbone of CPTS: Financial Analysis (FMA), Financial Operations (FMF), Comptroller Management (FMD), Non-Appropriated Funds (FMN), Quality Assurance (FMQ), and Local Area Network and Systems Support (FMZ). An Infographic illustrating 88th Comptroller Squadron impact and mission to be used for the 88th Air Base Wing Dominate the Dirty Work Campaign at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Matthew Fink) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “The essence of the comptroller squadron is to help take care of our customers, whether that’s ensuring they receive the proper pay and entitlements, FM System support, administrative support, or paying keeping the lights on,” said Lt. Col. Amy Justus, CPTS commander. At the heart of this powerhouse squadron are professionals ranging from analysts and accountants to human resources (HR) personnel and information technology (IT) specialists. Each one ensures the same thing: that the money needed to complete the mission is available when it’s needed. “There are just so many different avenues where you can fight for additional funding, and it usually starts here in our office,” Justus said. Financial Analysis (FMA) “It takes money to do the mission and it’s our job to go out and assist in getting that money and executing it for the base,” said Cathleen Worley, CPTS financial analysis flight chief. The financial analysis flight within CPTS plays a crucial role in the success of Wright-Patt, serving as the backbone of the entire installation, which is home to 115 tenant organizations. The flight is responsible for keeping the lights on, paying the bills, and ensuring that all accounting documentation is certified for the entire base. “I look at the 88th as a city,” Worley said. “We’ve got electric, phone, sidewalk maintenance, building maintenance, flightline, communications infrastructure, support organizations, payroll, police, fire fighters -- this is a whole city, and we are paying the bills.” The flight is broken down into four teams, each with their own distinct focus, ranging from support agreements and economic impact analysis (EIA) to accounting and budget management. Working alongside the Dayton Development Coalition, they strive to build community partnerships while educating the public on the essential role Wright-Patt plays in the local economy. For instance, last year’s EIA revealed that Wright-Patt brought $6.5 billion to the local economy, making the base the largest employer in the local area. An Infographic illustrating 88th Comptroller Squadron impact and mission to be used for the 88th Air Base Wing Dominate the Dirty Work Campaign at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Matthew Fink) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “It’s our job to advise on the best course of action, but it’s also our job to let people know what they might be missing,” Worley said. “They might not know what to ask or what to look for, but we do.” With a deep understanding of available funds and their priority allocation, FMA serves as a trusted advisor to various organizations’ leadership within the wing, advocating for their needs and guiding them toward the right direction to get the necessary funds. “They may have a need for money, but they don’t know how to get it,” said Stephen Northenor, CPTS deputy director. “We guide them in the right direction, advocating on their behalf to get them the money they need.” Collaborating closely with the 788th Civil Engineering Squadron’s financial management team, FMA ensures that infrastructure and repairs have the funding to be completed. “In FMA, they’re building relationships all the time with different customers throughout the wing,” Northenor said. Building strong relationships with customers throughout the wing enables FMA to serve their customers and help the commanders make informed decisions. Financial Operations (FMF) “When you mess with people’s pay, you mess with their livelihood,” Justus said. “We recognize that and work hard so our customers don’t have to go through hardships.” An Infographic illustrating 88th Comptroller Squadron impact and mission to be used for the 88th Air Base Wing Dominate the Dirty Work Campaign at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Matthew Fink) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res The financial operations flight is divided into two sections. The first section focuses on travel-related payment, including permanent change of station (PCS) expenses, travel vouchers, temporary duty assignments (TDYs), basic housing allowance and transitioning new arrivals to the Wright-Patt accounting system. The second section is responsible for managing military and civilian payroll for more than 35,000 personnel across 25 geographically separated units, including recruiters, ROTC instructors, reserve members, and National Guard personnel. “We’re finance, but we’re the people side of it,” said 2nd Lt. John Delisle, CPTS financial operations flight commander. The flight provides customer-focused services for the whole installation receiving a total of 65 new Comptroller Service Portal (CSP) and PayHelp inquiries daily, averaging an open-to-close time of three and a half days. They also schedule in-person appointments per customer’s needs, setting aside time to sit down one-on-one and work through any issue. Despite their heavy workload, empathy is at the forefront of their approach to customer service. “We present what we can do while trying to understand what each member is going through,” Delisle said. Natalie Klement, 88th Comptroller Squadron financial operations deputy chief, assists a customer Jan. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The Financial Operations Flight is responsible for managing military and civilian payroll for more than 31,000 personnel across 25 geographically separated units, including recruiters, ROTC instructors, reserve members and National Guard personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Hannah Carranza) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Comptroller Management (FMD) “We are all doing what we can for the Air Force,” Northenor said. “Anybody who works for the Department of Defense is working to ensure the safety and security for our society and our country. We are all one team.” The comptroller management flight oversees the facilities housing CPTS, HR, and the command support staff (CSS) that supports CPTS, Wing Staff Agencies, and the 88th Operations Support Squadron. CSS support includes handling paperwork for life events such as promotions, awards, enlisted performance reports (EPRs), officer performance reports (OPRs), and decorations. Airman Patrick Corde, 88th Comptroller Squadron command support staff journeyman, speaks with a customer Jan. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The squadron provides administrative support to commanders, senior enlisted leaders, first sergeants and operations deputies, as well as onboarding civilian employees and military members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Hannah Carranza) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res CSS also provides administrative support to commanders, senior enlisted leaders, first sergeants, deputies of operations, as well as onboarding civilian employees and military members. “The CSS is arguably the heartbeat of our squadron, as they are the first and last stop for all personnel assigned, ensuring the properly indoctrinated, setting the stage of our organizational culture” said Chief Master Sgt. Sharma Haynes, CPTS senior enlisted leader. “It makes all the difference when CSS is able to walk that individual through a process that could be career impacting.” Additionally, FMD fosters team building among its members, offering mentorship, training, and morale-boosting activities that strengthen the unit. Haynes is passionate about creating opportunities for her team to bond and grow. “When I see my team embodying what it means to serve and truly passionate about achieving their goals, whether it’s a promotion or developing professionally, that’s the most rewarding aspect of my job,” Haynes said. “It makes me proud to see my team succeed and watching them elevate.” Non-Appropriated Funds (FMN) “We are the second eyes for CPTS,” said Ana Baller, CPTS non-appropriated funds flight chief. “We evaluate and check that the rules are followed, that everyone is in compliance and that the assigned money is utilized.” The non-appropriated funds (NAF) flight is an essential component when it comes to maintaining independent financial oversight for the installation and 88th Force Support Squadron. They are responsible for providing financial guidance and planning for over 30 NAF activities and instrumentalities. Additionally, the flight offers training to NAF employees who are involved in handling large sums of money. Overall, their comprehensive approach ensures sound financial management and accountability within the organization. Natalie Klement, 88th Comptroller Squadron financial operations deputy chief, searches for documents in the unit’s vault Jan. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The Nonappropriated Funds Flight is an essential component when it comes to maintaining independent financial oversight for the installation and 88th Force Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Hannah Carranza Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “We try to help in any way if they’re running into issues and try to correct things before, they become a bigger issue,” Baller said. “We are trying to be their advocates to make sure the funds are spent in the correct way.” They oversee funding for NAF instrumentalities (NAFI) facilities like the bowling alley, car wash, and the Wright-Patt Club, while maintaining inventories of fixed assets such as furniture, buildings, cars, trucks, TVs, etc. When inventory is up for re-sale, they monitor monthly turnover and make recommendations to NAFI regarding unsold items. “We circle back around and see if things are changing for better or worse,” Baller said. Furthermore, FMN offers monthly summary reports for each NAF activity to commanders, ensuring accountability by investigating whether allocated funds align with actual account balances. “We want to make sure we are doing what’s right, but also getting to yes to make the mission happen,” Justus said. Quality Assurance (FMQ) “FMQ is the conscience of CPTS” said Timothy Graeter, CPTS quality assurance chief. Effective quality assurance is integral to any organization, and within the CPTS, the quality assurance flight upholds the responsibility of improving the quality of services provided. “It goes beyond money, there’s also time,” Justus said. “We work hard to make sure we are trying to improve processes, and to be mindful of other’s time.” To ensure maintaining compliance and preempt potential weaknesses, self-assessments and periodic reviews are conducted on CPTS programs and processes. FMQ is tasked with overseeing internal and formal inspections, ensuring adherence to governing regulations and established procedures. (Top) Airmen attend financial management training Jan. 5 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Bottom) Airmen 1st Class Trang Nguyen, 88th Comptroller Squadron finance technician, attends financial management training Jan. 5 with fellow Airmen at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Within 88 CPTS, the Quality Assurance Flight is responsible for maintaining and improving quality of services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Hannah Carranza) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “We try to capitalize on every resource that’s out there and do as much education as we can,” Graeter said. FMQ conducts many reviews more frequently than required by regulation to provide timely feedback and promptly address any issues before they can impact customers. “Customers can be affected if we aren’t doing our processes correctly or timely, which affects their ability to do their job, which then extends to that person's family,” Graeter said. By utilizing feedback forms, FMQ continuously evaluates their processes to improve the services provided. Local Area Network and Systems Support (FMZ) “They’re a small team, but they are mighty,” Justus said. (Left) Brent Wethington, 88th Comptroller Squadron computer assistant, repairs a laptop Jan. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Top Right) Brent Wethington, 88th Comptroller Squadron computer assistant, examines a laptop Jan. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The Local Area Network and Systems Support Flight supports over 500 users belonging to 88 CPTS, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Air Force Cost Analysis Agency financial management teams, and the 88th Wing Staff Agencies. (Bottom Right) Justin Thorpe, 88th Comptroller Squadron systems administrator, answers emails Jan. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The financial management systems team supports 1,200 Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management Systems users, 1,200 Wide Area Workflow users and 750 Advana users, as well as 1,300 personnel using a variety of systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Hannah Carranza) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res The Local Area Network support team within the LAN and systems support flight, currently assists over 512 users across multiple organizations, including the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center financial management team, Air Force Cost Analysis Agency financial management team, and the 88th Wing Staff Agencies. In 2022 alone, this team of three processed 1,265 tickets and handled approximately 15,456 total items through various channels such as phone calls, emails, Microsoft Teams and face-to-face interactions. “No one thinks there’s a systems side to accounting, they just think the systems work,” said Nicholas Cobb, former CPTS FMZ flight chief. The financial management systems team supports over 1,300 active users, and works in 15 different systems, including the legacy DFAS system. “I don’t think one can truly understand the interconnectedness of all the systems that we work in, unless you’re in it working every day,” Justus said. The FMZ team is tasked with maintaining access and troubleshooting for over $66 billion of incoming funds, a responsibility which they take seriously. “We are invested, everybody works hard, and everybody goes the extra mile to make sure the mission is completed,” Cobb said. Their hard work and investment have not gone unnoticed, as their methods for utilizing SharePoint to streamline communication and processes have become industry standard. Cobb is very proud of his team’s commitment to innovating and improving processes. “I have a very easy job as a supervisor because they like what they do and they’re good at it,” Cobb said. Always Advocating With a mixture of military and civilian employees from various backgrounds and experiences, CPTS is a dynamic and robust squadron. “I am personally invested in CPTS,” said Cobb. “I love this squadron, I love everyone who works here, they’re great people and they work hard.” Justus echoes her passion for CPTS. “It never ceases to amaze me just how competent our folks are,” Justus said. “You can give them a task and they will come back with an amazing solution.” Whether a squadron commander needs mission funding, or an Airman needs help with their pay, the 88th Comptroller Squadron advocates for their customers and always extends a helpful hand. Haynes enjoys the diversity of the day-to-day interactions. “The highlight of my days is interacting and connecting with my team,” Haynes said. “It could be mentorship, discussing a challenge they are faced with, or understanding life experiences. As a leader it’s imperative I know my teammates as not only contributors to our organization, but also as human beings.” Northernor expresses his pride knowing that customers can rely on CPTS when they’re in need. “Everybody in the wing knows that if they need something, then they can call us, and we will help them.” Northenor said. With strong relationships at the core of their efforts, the 88th Comptroller Squadron provides unwavering strength through support to both Airmen and the mission at Wright-Patt, ensuring the success of both.