Shadowing the CFO: A Student's Experience

Accounting major Kayla Cote traveled to Washington D.C. in 2011 to shadow the Chief Financial Officer of the Office of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Here is her travel report:

During the week of January 3-7, 2011, I had the fortunate opportunity to shadow the Chief Financial Officer of Immigration & Customs Enforcement. Prior to shadowing the CFO, I took my co-workers' advice and studied the organizational chart for the CFO's office. This helped tremendously when I met different directors and branch chiefs.

The schedule for Monday, January 3rd was to shadow the CFO to each meeting she attended. Unfortunately she was not feeling well and couldn't make it into the office. I attended a meet and greet with the Deputy CFO on Monday morning and discussed the goals in which I had during the week and what I could expect from the CFO's office. Monday afternoon I attended the daily OCFO Task Due Checkpoint meeting which included all top level management. Each branch was responsible for different items on the agenda. They are to report to the CFO each day where they are in terms of completing different tasks. The Office of Facilities Administration (OFA) is currently drafting a policy memo on cubicle size to send to the OFM Policy branch.

Tuesday's schedule was full of meetings with various directors. The first meeting I attended was the Monthly Policy Kick-Off Meeting with all the directors. The main topic at this meeting was to compile an OCFO (Office of the Chief Financial Officer) handbook. The CFO would like each office to put together a draft of different policies and procedures that relates to their office and then give their drafts to the Policy and Planning branch. The Policy and Planning team is then responsible for putting together the handbook and presenting it to the CFO for her approval. Later that afternoon I attended the Office of Asset Administration (OAA) bi-weekly meeting with the CFO. The CFO meets with this branch frequently since this is a newly formed branch, and each program director is responsible for updating her on the projects they are in charge of. For example one branch chief is planning trips to different ICE offices to "audit" their records management. The last meeting I attended on Tuesday was with the director of HSI about office space options for HSI offices.

Tuesday night, I went on a night tour of DC. The bus brought us to multiple monuments and memorials including the White House, Capital Hill, World War II memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and more. We also drove by the Arlington Cemetery on our way to the Iwo Jima Memorial. It was incredible to see all of these historical sights.

Wednesday I attended multiple meetings. The first meeting was the OCFO Directors Staff Meeting. Each director was to report to the CFO about different topics happening in their branches. OFA reported how an on-site nurse hurt her wrist while opening a door. Also Wednesday morning a car crashed into one of the barriers outside the office. OFA is responsible for these incidents. The Workforce Management director reported on the deadlines for Leadership Training and how she has received 5 applications so far. The applications must be sent from a director to her office.

The afternoon was spent on Capital Hill as the CFO, CIO (Chief Information Officer) and ERO (Enforcement and Removal Office) Director had a meeting with the Senate Appropriations Committee. The ERO Director was presenting on his plans on how to update the system for tracking aliens. His mission is to reduce the amount of transfers of aliens between facilities by better tracking how many beds are available at each location. If tracking is to be performed at each facility, this will slowly decrease the amount of transfers that need to happen over time. Eventually the goal would be to diminish transfers completely, except for those aliens with certain medical conditions.

The schedule for Thursday consisted of a trip to the Office of Financial Management and a private tour of Capital Hill by our Legislative Affairs Specialist. The Deputy CFO and I took a trip to OFM (Office of Financial Management) to meet with the director and all of the branch chiefs. The topic of this meeting was to educate me about each branch within OFM. Each branch chief gave me a brief introduction of the duties and responsibilities of their branch. I was able to learn a lot about OFM and how BFC directly impacts the different branches.

After the Deputy CFO and I returned back to the office the Legislative Affairs Specialist took me on a private tour of Capital Hill. He used to work on the Hill for seven years. We first toured the House of Representatives side where we saw Nancy Pelosi speaking to a news station. He showed me where former Senator Kennedy's office was as he used to work for him. He then took me to the Senate side of the building where we had our meeting the previous day. This was an exceptional opportunity and a wonderful learning experience. I appreciate that he took the time out of his busy schedule to provide me with a tour of knowledge from his past.

On my last day of my shadowing experience with the CFO, I was able to attend the OCFO Strategic Planning meeting. The topic of this meeting was to have each office choose 2-6 tasks within 5 different goals to complete that would help OCFO better support their staff and customers and eventually make it employer of choice. For example, many tasks included providing training to the employees that would help them provide better customer service and provide cross training amongst different branches of OCFO. The CFO and her staff have come up with different tasks based on the employer of choice survey taken by OCFO employees.

This trip was a great opportunity for me to learn more about ICE and specifically OCFO. I will be able to use the knowledge I have learned from this experience and apply it to my work here at BFC. I cannot thank management enough for giving me the opportunity to shadow our CFO. I will never forget this experience and what I have learned from this week.