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Financial Specialist

Employer
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in South Africa
Location
Benoni Benoni Ekurhuleni, South Africa
Salary
Competitive
Closing date
May 26, 2024

View more

Job Role
Other
Sector
Finance
Contract Type
Permanent
Hours
Full Time
Job Overview

The Financial Specialist (FS) reports to the Senior Fianncial Mangement Officer and assists in the formulation of goals, objectives, and the Management policy for Mission South Africa. The FS supervises six Foreign Service National positions, including five that are supervisory positions covering multiple financial disciplines. The FS is also responsible for conducting reviews of 21 employees: 15 Voucher Examiners, 4 Budget Analysts, and 3 Accounting Technicans. The Financial Specialist monitors the overall workflow in FMC and provides supervision, management, training, technical and financial guidance to these 27 employees. Total funding managed is $88 milion. The FS acts as the Financial Management Officer in the absence of both FMOs.

The FS serves as Mission South Africa's ICASS Financial Operations Manager and is direclty responsible for the management of the Mission's ICASS Budget for $36 M. The FS is responsible for the strategic planning of the ICASS financial resource requirements, which includes recognizing that ICASS financial resource requirements are outlined in the Mission's Integrated Country Strategy (ICS), the Mission Resource Request (MRR), Regional Bureau/DS/OBO data calls, and contracts. The incumbent also coordinates, reviews, and provides oversight on ICASS Memorandums of Understandings, Service Level Agreements, workload counts, time allocations, budget formulation, and preparation of the budget in the WebICASS software. The Financial Specialist also has responsibility for budget formulation, execution, accounting, and funds control for other DOS budgets and other serviced agency funds.

The Financial Specialist supervises the three Supervisory Voucher Examiners/Certifying Officers (SVEs/COs) and works with them to mentor the voucher unit on new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), changes/modifications to existing SOPs, addressess performance issues, low productivity, implements new technology and systems, and resolves complex payment issues. The Financial Specialist serves as an Alternate LE Certifying Officer and a Cashier Verification Officer. Mission South Africa's payments are $91.1M annually with 62,400 lines of strip codes and 20,000+ vouchers processed annually.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

Supervision and Management (35%)

The Financial Specialist (FS) coordinates with the Human Resource Office on vacancy announcements, candidate interviews, the selection process and oversees the successful induction of new employees into the Financial Management Center (FMC). The FS drafts and reviews job position descriptions; formulates work development plans; counsels and monitors work performance; writes employee work evaluations and reviewing statements; issues Performance Improvement Plans; provides leadership and guidance; identifies employee needs and makes recommendations for employee training. The FS advises employees on various duties and administrative requirements; evaluates and discusses employee concerns, and reviews and initially approves leave requests ensuring adequate office coverage. The FS in consultation with S/FMO initiates disciplinary action. The FS also makes recommendations and drafts awards.

The FS is directly responsible for supervision of full range of budget activities for ICASS and State Program operations which represents nearly 50% of the annual funds allotted to post. Through the Accounting Supervisor, the FS is directly responsibile for the full range of budget activities and the day-to-day execution of operations occurring for the Public Diplomacy, Representation, Consular, Diplomatic Security, Marines, Overseas Building Operations, Populations Migration and Refugees, Gift Funds, STATE PEPFAR, INL, and other serviced agencies accounts for a total of 17 accounts.

The FS supervises the Accounting Supervisor, ICASS Financial Analyst, and Program Budget Analyst who assist in managing the financial operations of the Budget and Accounting Unit (BAU). The FS actively manages these three positions in planning and budget formulation for State and other Serviced Agencies/Sections' using the Integrated Country Strategy (ICS) and the Mission Resource Request (MRR) goals and objectives as a strategic framework. The incumbent oversees these three staff in their use of the following financial tools: MRR resource tables, budget data calls, historical funding analysis, inflationary trends, currency exchange rates, contract pricing, Local Compensation Plan (LCP), federal salary and allowances, unfunded priorities, and new positions. The FS coordinates with this staff on recommendations for reallocation of funding resources from analyzing actual requirements against funding requests during the budget formulation process. The FS spervises this staff in the formulation of the annual and mid-year financial plans and other financial reports for all State budgets and as other agencies. The FS further ensures that correct data is gathered to properly populate the MRR/RABIT/IBIS/WEBICASS software.

The FS supervises the three Supervisory Voucher Examiners/Certify Officers (SVEs/COs) as they manage the financial operations of the voucher unit and initiate the full range of financial services which includes vendor claims, federal assistance payments, disbursements, and employee claims. The FS ensures the supervisory staff fully utilize all the financial tools at their disposal: invoice analysis, reconciliation, payment determination, payment cycle processing, payment verification, FMC payment system reporting, rejected transactions, and invalid invoice coordination. The FS must be knowledgeable knowledgeable about both the procurement transactions (contracts and purchase orders/requests) and the non-Procurement transactions (purchase and travel Cards, utilities, cell phone services and lease agreements).

ICASS Financial Operations Manager (25%)

The FS serves as Mission South Africa's ICASS Financial Operations Manager (Maco Level duties). The FS is responsible for the strategic planning of the ICASS financial resource requirements per 6 FAH-5 guidelines which includes recognizing the ICASS financial resource requirements as outlined in the Mission's Integrated Country Strategy (ICS), identifying the ICASS portion of the Mission Resource Request (MRR), Regional Bureau/DS/OBO Data Calls, and Multi-Year contract costs, are included in the annual ICASS budget. The FS also directs, coordinates, reviews, and provides oversight to the ICASS Financial Analyst for the annual Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs), workload counts, time allocations, and formulating the budget in Web ICASS software. The Financial Specialist verifies compliance with the ICASS checklist and scorecard, assists in preparing for ICASS council presentations, and the Annual ICASS Review of Service Providers' performance. A critical role for the FS is to directly engage agency/section heads and representatives in the review/reconciliation of their individual agency/section invoices and assist in dispute/resolution.

To assist with financial planning, the FS proactively analyses various serviced agencies ICASS requests via "What-IF" scenarios. The FS takes projected workload adjustments for increased/decreases in various services, works with the ICASS Financial Analyst to incorporate this data/information into the ICASS software, and generates ICASS software 'What-If' scenarios. The FS shares these reports directly with Agency/Section heads, which permits these stakeholders and their headquarters to make informed financial decisions with regards to their ICASS services at Mission South Africa. Other ICASS duties include: drafting the ICASS Executive Summary, coordinating and identifying cost savings/initiatives among service providers that is quantifiable and measurable, defining recoveries, carryover, proceeds of sale, and auction proceeds for the Regional Bureau, OBO, and DS ICASS

funds, assisting with annual FSN Compensation reviews and accessing the impact on serviced agency invoices, assisting with the formulation and oversight of the ICASS modification, TDY, and Furniture and Appliance Pool (FAP) policies and quantifying their impact on the ICASS budgeting and agency invoices. The FS through outreach to customers and service providers, develops, conducts, and oversees formalized and informalized trainings for ICASS Financial Operations (charter, regulations, policies, governance, principles, orientations to the ICASS Service Center website, ICASS annual planning schedule, annual MOUs, service level subscription, budgets, cost distribution, interpretation of reports, time allocations, and ICASS workload counts). This is especially important for Mission South Africa's restrictive operating environment with constant power and water problems impacting residential and non-residential operations.

The FS services as the Mission's Subject Matter Expert (SME) on all things ICASS. The FS must possess in-depth knowledge regarding the ICASS software. This cost distribution system is highly complex and technical, continually changing, used for projections of future resource requirements, analyzing funding needs for multi-year contracts, estimating agency/section new position start-up costs, cost implications for new initiatives, impact of cost savings initiatives, 'What-If' scenarios, and cost implications for agencies/sections subscribing to new services and withdrawing from services. The FS must keep up to date with

the latest ICASS resources and tools that are available on the ICASS Service Center website (Global Database, Data Integrity Scorecard, Compare Dashboard, and Customized Metric Tools).

Budget Formulation, Execution, Monitoring, Reporting, Funds Control and Accounting (20%)

Budget Formulation, Execution, Monitoring, and Reporting:
The FS overseas the Supervisory Accounting Supervisor, ICASS Financial Analysis, and Program Analyst as they conduct budget reviews using Global Business Intelligence (GBI) 60 (Status of funds), 62 (Status of obligation), and 80 (Transaction) reports and FMC generated financial plans to accomplish the following: compliance with MRR and budget submissions, analysis of unanticipated events, justification of reprogramming financial resources, cost saving mechanisms, analysis of discretionary spending and unfunded priorities, and identification of excess funding to be returned to agency/section headquarters. The FS needs to ensure that these staff and the entire Budget and Accounting unit are well versed in the new Global Business Intelligence (Global BI) application, a single worldwide financial reporting platform. The entire staff must be able to generate reports such as Budget Plans versus Actuals, disbursement details, and data analytics to dive deeper into the data and generate graphical displays with bar charts, pie charts and historical trends. The FS coordinates with the Accounting Supervisor, ICASS Financial Analyst, and Program Budget Analyst, as they analyse status of funds to identify deviation of spending from budget plans and projecting spending to the end of the financial year. The Financial Specialist also maintains files and supporting documents of all established obligations for future reference and audit needs.

The FS supervises the FMO staff as they develop quarterly financial plans that provide annual projection of expenditures based on actual and projected operational requirements to the end of the fiscal year for budget execution decisions. The FS coordinates the communication from her staff to FMOs, agency/section heads, GSO Procurement, and Management on funds that are available for year-end purchasing providing a basis for year-end procurement planning. This also involves developing complex excel spreadsheets to monitor expenditure trends; reviewing financial plans with Agencies to find out areas where funds can be reprogrammed; provides Management with the necessary information that is used in making complex management decisions such as recruitment, purchasing, and asset replacement; prepares reports for use by Agency Heads informing them of how the funds have been utilized and future needs in areas where shortfalls are anticipated and recommends appropriate cost saving initiatives. The FS ensures the FMO staff prepares financial reports (cables) to the H Bureau for Congressional Delegations and Staff Delegations per their visits to South Africa which is approved by the FMOs. Requires coordination with Control Officers and cashiers to acquire all documentations for related expenses.

Accounting and Funds Control:
The FS assists the Accounting section to execute agency/section budgets. This involves reviewing travel and procurement transactions such as contracts, Memorandum of Understandings, personnel actions, purchase cards, E2 travel authorizations, Invitational Travel Orders, contracts, petty cash requests and miscellaneous expenditure claims to ensure that they are prepared in accordance with Appropriation Law, USG laws and regulations (which includes assisting other agencies with interpreting their own rules and regulations) before establishing an obligation and forwarding them to the FMOs for certification of funds availability. The FS pays special attention to the ICASS day-to-day operations ensuring that the ICASS Financial Analyst and Accounting Technician obligate funds according to the ICASS Council approved budget. The FS ensures that the Accounting Supervisor, ICASS Financial Analyst and Program Budget Analyst request and receive Advice of Allotments in the Integrated Business Intelligence System (IBIS). This ensures that funds control is maintained and that obligations do not exceed funding authorizations and they are substantiated with appropriate supporting documentation.

The FS supervises the Accounting Supervisor, ICASS Financial Analyst, and Program Budget Analyst as they manage and review the unspent funds (referred to as Unliquidated Obligations - ULOs) on a quarterly basis. This systematic review helps the Department and Regional/Functional Bureaus to reprogram funds that are required elsewhere. The Financial Specialist conducts risk assessment at least annually for all internal financial management procedures, using OIG Risk Assessment Survey, and reports to FMO on weaknesses discovered. The FS proposes resolution of problem areas, suggests changes and/or correction of procedures to bring FMC into full compliance with all Department directives, rules and regulations, FAH/FAH and DSSR requirements.

For accounting services, the Financial Specialist ensures continued improvement and correction of internal business processes to reduce the number of rejected transactions for obligations and cash payments. Regularly examines the reports of unprocessed transactions, processed transactions, 477 rejections and reports and reconciles them with FSC-60s and FSC-62s. Identifies unresolved and erroneous entries by FMO staff that result from misunderstanding or lack of full knowledge of correct procedures with respect to obligation types, voucher types. Mediates between the Comptroller and Global Financial Services and post to

resolve such errors and to train or retrain staff in correct procedures.

Voucher Operations (20%)

Mission South Africa's Voucher Operations reportedly has the fifth large workload for an overseas post. The unit is heavily regulated by Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and works in a conveyor belt approach, to process a massive volume of vouchers and strip codes on a yearly basis. The Financial Specialist works with the three SVEs/COs to mentor the voucher examiners on new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), changes and modifications to existing SOPs, addresses performance issues and low productivity. Internal meetings are held weekly to address voucher processing issues. These meetings consume a great deal of time, but constant messaging needs to be done to ensure the voucher unit stay current with rules, regulations, SOPs, business process changes, while addressing non-conforming actions and performance.

The Voucher Unit continues to experience vast technology changes in various software packages leading to greater efficiencies. The Financial Specialist plays an instrumental role in ensuring technological changes continue, employees are motivated for change, and to get their acceptance and buy-in of new software and business process changes. Software enhancements can take months to plan, implement, and executed via the Comptroller and Global Financial Services and the Office of Logistics Management (A/LM).

Vendors payment problems remains a critical and recurring issue in Mission South Africa which frequently impede normal voucher operations. The Mission continually has issues with vendors that have multi-year contacts where contractual terms remain in dispute with services terminated or threatened to be terminated. Recurring vendors for utilities, fuel, telecon, internet, and courier services have discontinued service due to the perceived lack of non-payment. In all instances, the voucher unit will provide paid voucher documentation to the vendor if an invoice has been paid. The Financial Specialist and the voucher unit supervisors will spend hours researching issues, pull together all available support and documentation, coordinate with GSO Procurement, IRM, ISC, IPO, and consulate staff to amend procurement requests and contracts in ILMS, meet vendors, negotiate, and come to an applicable resolution to get invoices in arrears paid, as to not adversely impact Mission operations. Vendor payment problems are addressed daily.

Education

University degree in either Accounting, Finance, or Business Administration is required.

Experience

Non-supervisory

Five years progressively responsible work experience in budgeting, planning, financial analysis, financial systems, data compilation, and reporting is required. Incumbent must have work experience dealing with vendors, payments, and dispute resolution skills.

Supervisory

Three years supervisory experience is required managing large teams of 30 individuals or larger with conflict resolution skills.

Basic Salary: R847,979.00 - R1,187,164.00 per annum

Non-cash benefits include medical, pension and others where applicable

Successful candidate must be able to obtain and hold a Local Security Certification or Public Trust Clearance.

If you not heard back from us within two weeks after the submission date has closed, please consider your application unsuccessfuul for this vacancy.

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