Lt. Col. Stephen Hoffman

Lt. Col. Stephen Hoffman (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Fiscal 2007 was a fulfilling time for Lt. Col. Stephen Hoffman, commander of the 100th Comptroller Squadron at RAF Mildenhall.

His unit earned an “excellent” rating on its unit compliance inspection, he completed a five-month deployment to Afghanistan, and he helped coordinate a fundraiser that earned $1,400 for a charity benefiting widowed Afghan women.

Hoffman, 42, of Ottawa, Ohio, believes all of these things helped him become the Air Force’s 2007 comptroller officer of the year this month. He beat out 105 other officers for the title.

In May, he’ll officially be awarded the honor at the American Society of Military Comptrollers conference in Orlando, Fla.

What does it take to be an award- winning Air Force comptroller officer?

First, take care of the financial basics. Second, take care of the personal development of your people. And last, just listen. Listen carefully to what everybody is saying … because people will tell you the truth if they trust you.

Do you also have to be good with math and crunching numbers?

I’m convinced that you do not. I’ve got degrees in math and statistics [but] I always use this phrase: Never use calculus when arithmetic will do. If an argument gets complicated, it generally means we’ve lost the basics. If so, we need to go back to: How much was your budget? How much have you spent? And how much do you have yet to accomplish? It doesn’t get much more complicated than that.

What do your comptrollers handle at this base?

We have two basic areas. Financial services comptrollers take care of the individuals on this base. They pay civilian salaries, take care of military and civilian pay issues and travel pay.

Then we have financial analysis. That’s effectively the corporate side. That’s taking care of the civil engineering squadron budget, flying hour budget and the fuel for the aircraft. So, in that case, our customers are the squadron and group commanders because we’re maintaining their budgets to make sure their missions are accomplished.

What’s next for you?

I’m [transferring] in July and heading to the Pentagon to work in studies and analysis.

Now let’s get away from the military side of your life with a few questions. What’s your favorite movie?

“Cool Hand Luke.”

What kind of music do you listen to?

I like Motown from the ’70s.

And finally, who do you think will win this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tourney?

I’m not a huge fan but I suppose it wouldn’t be wise to bet against North Carolina. They’re a powerhouse year in and year out.

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