My career with the federal government started in the U.S. Department of Education as a clerk/typist, GS-2, in July 1978. I was so excited and happy because I had landed a government job! As a clerk/typist, I was responsible for clerical support to 20+ employees. I flourished at the Department of Education and honed my clerical skills as I learned how to be a member of an office team. Two years later, I was encouraged by a friend and my Mother to apply for a position with NASA in the aeronautics program. To my surprise, I was selected, thereby beginning my career with NASA. As an added bonus, I was now working for the same agency and the same office from which my Mother had retired in 1978. Once on board, I was fortunate to work with supervisors who mentored me and encouraged me to be the best I could be.
In April 1980, I was selected for a secretarial position in the Office of Space Transportation Systems, known then as Code M. This, too, was very exciting for me since Code M was responsible for the development of the space shuttle. I joined the organization just as the program was launching its first space shuttle flight. As a result of my work performance, I was requested to assume new and additional responsibilities beyond my secretarial duties. These duties required I learn all the “intimate detail capabilities” of operating and problem solving the Code M office automation word processors to assist and instruct the other secretarial secretaries on operating the equipment. Additionally, due to the absence of the office Program Support Assistant while on maternity leave, I was requested to perform a wide variety of new administrative duties. My supervisor expressed he was extremely pleased with my performance and willingness to assume responsibilities outside of my assigned area with a “positive attitude and team spirit.” That was over 26 years ago, and I have held a number of different positions and worked in a number of different organizations at NASA Headquarters and at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Today, I serve as the Assistant Associate Administrator (AAA) for the Resources Management and Analysis Office, Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD). SOMD has a combined budget and workforce comparable in size to a Fortune 500 corporation. SOMD is responsible for managing in excess of $5 billion in annual NASA appropriations—nearly one third of NASA’s total annual budget. As AAA for Resources Management, I provide critical leadership in establishing program controls and integrating and developing the budget perspective for the Associate Administrator (AA) in the federal budget process.
The high-visibility nature of SOMD programs requires the experience of a senior program financial executive who has financial business acumen and the ability to effectively advocate and communicate information to internal/external NASA stakeholders, including agency management, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Congressional staff, the General Accountability Office, the Office of Inspector General, and other internal and outside oversight committees. I am regularly called on to develop SOMD presentation materials, respond to Congressional and media inquires as well as various external audit agencies, and perform independent assessments to effectively advocate and communicate mission goals and budget requirements.
Specifically, I advise the Associate Administrator for Space Operations and provide financial management of SOMD resources, including all aspects of the planning, programming, and budgeting processes. In my role as resources manager, I am required to notify the AA of any irregularities, lack of adherence, and problems associated with financial systems, planning, operations, accounting, auditing, or budgeting, drawing on my knowledge of OMB circulars, federal accounting standards, and internal NASA standards and systems; interpreting Congressional language; and understanding political sensitivities on the Senate and House Appropriations and Authorization committees and subcommittees.
I develop strategies and processes to integrate financial management and controls, effectively guiding SOMD programs to meet current and future fiscal requirements. As part of the federal budget process, I lead the development, integration, execution, analysis, and monitoring of detailed center-, project-, and program-level workforce, financial, travel, reimbursable, and overhead budgets from formulation through execution. I provide input on a regular basis into the agency strategic planning process by developing and presenting SOMD highlights, issues, and concerns through the pre-acquisition strategic process, and I ensure that program guidelines are consistent with administration policies, agency strategic plans, and Congressional authorization and appropriation language. As part of my program control function, I set controls and funding plans for execution year funds distribution, status program obligations, cost, and workforce performance on a monthly basis; ensure that programs meet agency metrics; watch for poor performance indicators; forecast end-of-year progress; and make midyear course corrections where necessary.
I work to unify Mission Directorate financial planning and business partnering, establish and improve processes and tools, increase competency, apply best practices and lessons learned, and improve communication with internal/external customers and stakeholders – all of which is aimed at achieving corporate excellence and strategic planning in business and resources management. I routinely collaborate and communicate with, advise, and receive advice from the Office of Chief Financial Officer Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation Office; Office of Legislative Affairs; Office of International Affairs; and General Counsel regarding SOMD and agency financial processes, systems, planning, agreements, audits, and other issues and concerns.
My skills contribute to mission success on a national scale at work; at home, the missions are more modest, but the results can be equally rewarding. Several years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew immediately that I needed to make informed decisions – to talk to women like me – so I joined a breast cancer support group. This filled an informational gap, providing avenues to resources that I did not know existed. The outreach activities in which I participated opened my eyes to the struggles of cancer patients. Even as I underwent treatment, I reflected on how the support and access to resources had made my experience a little more tolerable. I found myself wondering what I could do to help.
I decided to participate in the Relay for Life: an annual American Cancer Society fundraising event that draws participants from all walks of life. Teams decorate tents and honor cancer survivors as members take turns running or walking on a track throughout the night. It is a time of celebration when the community joins together to show support for the fight against this insidious disease.
Fortunately, as my professional responsibilities and stress level have increased, I thank God I have been cancer free for the past several years. A positive attitude and a willingness to take risks have really paid off in my career at NASA.
For Toni Mumford, a “positive attitude and a willingness to take risks … really paid off in [her] career at NASA.” As Assistant Associate Administrator for the Resource Management and Analysis Office in the Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Ms. Mumford – who is responsible for a combined budget and workforce comparable in size to that of a Fortune 500 corporation – manages in excess of $5 billion in annual NASA appropriations, or nearly one third of the agency’s total annual budget. In this key role, Ms. Mumford provides critical leadership in establishing program controls as well as in integrating and developing a budget perspective for the Associate Administrator in the federal budget process. Although Ms. Mumford began her government career with the U.S. Department of Education, as a result of encouragement from her mother within 2 years she found herself at NASA – working in the same office from which her mother had retired a couple of years earlier. While Ms. Mumford’s 30-year NASA career has been one of success following success, no work success can compare with her successful fight against cancer. As a cancer survivor and an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society, Ms. Mumford writes that while her “skills contribute to mission success on a national scale at work; at home, the missions are more modest, but the results [are] equally rewarding.”