YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Air Force is conducting a major transformation of its financial services.

As part of its Smart Operations 21 initiative, the Air Force this month began consolidating the processing of many of the routine financial transactions currently handled by base finance offices into a single location, the Air Force Financial Services Center at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.

The Air Force expects to save more than $200 million in manpower expenses with the move, said 2nd Lt. Jason Seitz, a financial services officer who came to Yokota Air Base last week to explain the changes to base finance personnel.

Seitz said that when airmen have pay issues such as filing a travel voucher or requesting an allotment, the request will be filed at their base finance office but will be processed electronically at the financial center.

Having a central location for all financial matters with a standard set of procedures means that customers will receive consistent guidance from one source, regardless of where they are stationed, Seitz said.

“Airmen will be spending less time in customer service lines,” he said.

Seitz also said that beginning in October 2008 the Services Center will have a 24-hour hot line — including e-mail and Internet chat — available to customers.

“The airmen are going to have a lot more access to their pay,” Seitz said.

“Especially the deployed airmen who are currently confined to the office hours of their home finance service office.”

According to Senior Master Sgt. Mark Branco, 35th Comptroller Squadron superintendent, Misawa Air Base’s 35th Comptroller’s Squadron is scheduled to migrate its workload over to the financial services center March 14-17.

By the fourth quarter of 2009 the squadron will have decreased its manning of both military and civilian personnel from 34 to 27, Branco said. Yokota is scheduled to move to the new system March 14, according to 2nd Lt. Kari McIntyre, a base financial services officer.

The center at Ellsworth, which opened Sept. 14, will slowly assume the routine processing duties base by base for each of the 93 Air Force finance offices worldwide, according to an Air Force release. Space Command bases are to make the change this month.

As a result of the transformation, Yokota’s office staff, as well as finance office staffs throughout the Air Force, will be reduced when some personnel slots are transferred to Ellsworth.

McIntyre said Yokota’s staff is being reduced to 14 personnel, down from 25, but apart from a reduction in operating hours during the transition, customers shouldn’t notice any major differences once the transformation takes place.

“We’re still going to have a finance office at Yokota,” she said.

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