FORT MEADE, Md. — November! It’s a month of holidays: Veterans Day, Diwali, and Thanksgiving, to name a few. The 11th
month of the year is also home to a lesser known, yet still important, holiday: International Accounting Day.
Today, 10 November, is that special day. Help us celebrate the National Security Agency’s (NSA) number enthusiasts—the accounting aficionados, the money mavens, the financial fanatics—who contribute to the Agency’s mission by ensuring NSA’s financial resources are managed responsibly.
“Accountant” is an umbrella term, and under it are all sorts of different functions. For example, Becca and the Audit Liaison team serve as the link between NSA’s Inspector General’s Office/accounting firm contractors and Agency organizations for the financial statement audit.
“We ensure auditor requests are responded to properly and in a timely manner, lead Agency leaders to address audit findings, and advise stakeholders as they make business decisions for NSA,” Becca explained. “In essence, we translate accounting jargon to NSA, and NSA jargon to the auditors.”
Todd and the Financial Reporting team relay important financial information to NSA’s overseers and others.
“We issue financial statements and reports to the Department of Defense, Treasury, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of Management and Budget, and Congress. We adhere to strict reporting deadlines on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis,” said Todd. The annual Agency Financial Report is their biggest deliverable: “It contains information on the Agency’s performance, financial results, and the top management and performance challenges as identified by the Office of the Inspector General, and takes nearly a full year to produce.”
“The role of the accountants is to ensure that Agency internal controls are designed properly and working effectively, the core financial system is processing transactions timely and accurately, and the financial reports are accurate and reliable," said Todd.
In other words, an accountant’s role here at NSA isn’t for the faint of heart, and in case you couldn’t tell, it’s crucial and much more involved than just counting numbers.
“The goal is for the Agency to receive a clean audit report from the external auditors, which will demonstrate to our overseers that the Agency is being a good steward for the appropriations and resources entrusted to us,” explained Todd.
“Accountants are universal—it is a skillset that is needed everywhere, not just at NSA or in the government,” said Becca. “While math skills are important to accountants when analyzing and interpreting figures, communication skills are just as important because accountants need to understand the process and interpret the financial aspect. A combination of those skills leads to the ability to recognize when process improvements are needed as well as how to overcome the atypical activities that deviate from the norm.”
So, why accounting? What’s the draw? For Todd, it complements his personality.
“I have spent most of my career doing financial reporting. It is a good fit for me because it requires attention to detail, adherence to laws and regulations, and the ability to meet strict deadlines. I also like financial reporting because every month you can hit the reset button. There aren’t any long, open-ended deliverables.”
Becca said she was all-in after taking her first accounting course.
“I have always liked numbers and chose to be an accountant once I walked into Accounting 101 and opened the workbook and realized that accounting is like math puzzles where everything has to balance. I have always enjoyed the problem solving aspect of accounting and the ability to continuously make things better,” explained Becca.
Today—International Accounting Day—we raise our calculators in honor of NSA’s amazing accountants. While they are focused on the Agency’s bottom line, they never lose sight of the big picture.
Being an accountant at the Agency provides for the opportunity to get to know a lot about the processes here. It’s a great way to understand the big picture and the inner workings of how the Agency carries out its mission using the financial resources entrusted to it.
Looking for career opportunities like Becca and Todd at NSA? Visit NSA.gov/Careers for more information
or check out our current vacancies