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Career News | Jan. 23, 2024

Decades at DCAA with Brad Wolfe

By DCAA Staff Writer

Mr. Brad Wolfe is a Program Manager in policy with the Policy Accounting Standards group with 28 years of DCAA service. He currently researches and develops policy and audit guidance for the agency.

Brad’s career with DCAA started right after college as a junior auditor at the Santa Barabara Branch Office in California. After three years, Brad left DCAA and worked in the private sector as a corporate auditor and as a Medicare and Medicaid auditor before returning to DCAA. “I wasn’t enjoying working for a company that was trying to generate money. I truly started with DCAA, returned to DCAA, and stay with DCAA for the mission.” 

How has DCAA changed from when you first started?

We didn’t have laptops when I first started. All audits were done on 13-columnar pads. There were a few computers with software like an older version of Excel. Most audits were cut and paste, and the professional support staff did all the typing. We also used to brief every contractor that field audit offices had cognizance over and we processed all public vouchers.

The office culture and overall atmosphere changed a lot. When I first started, it was sink or swim. The culture shifted and now DCAA spends a lot of time improving and developing junior auditors. There are tons of trainings, programs, and opportunities for auditors to grow.

What positions have you worked as in DCAA?

Even though I had a break in service I worked in over five different regions throughout my career and held multiple jobs. I worked as an auditor, investigative support auditor, technical specialist, supervisory auditor, Branch Manager, Regional Technical Programs Division (RST) Chief, Resident Auditor and am currently a program manager.

What was your favorite job with DCAA?

My favorite job was my three years with the Regional Investigative Support (RSI) team which is now Operations Investigative Support Division (OIS). I worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District Criminal Fraud Unit and a  a majority of my time was spent in the U.S. Attorney Office. I worked on 15 criminal cases and got convictions in all the cases. I also worked on a large civil case where we recouped $36 million.

My favorite working location was at the European Branch Office. It was a great three years of fun and diverse work with lots of travel. I did all my audits in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and in West Africa.

What is your favorite moment from your DCAA career?

My favorite story is a bit of a funny one. It wasn’t funny at the time but looking back I can laugh. I worked on a State Department audit with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) while working in Europe. The audit was at a biological facility in Siberia. There was some animosity towards my auditing questions from the Russian government. The liaison came and told me there were two gentlemen who wanted to talk to me. They turned out to be two members of the Federal Security Service (FSB) who interrogated me for three hours.

DCAA is a truly unique job. I’ve gotten to ride in aircrafts, tanks, and submarines. I’ve been in Iraq with troops and visited different facilities throughout the world. Not many auditors can say they’ve been to a closed city in Russia or detained by FSB.

What advice would you give to the newest DCAA orientation group?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Bring your ideas to the table, don’t be shy about sharing your ideas.

When I was a manager, I’d tell my new hires that it made me nervous if they weren’t asking questions. This is a difficult job with a lot going on and rarely can you come in without any questions. We need critical thinkers who think outside the box so that we can improve. There are always processes that we do in a certain way simply because we did them that way in the past. However, it’s your ideas that can help improve and shape the future of DCAA, that’s why we hire you.

What is the best advice someone has given you?

When I first became a Field Audit Office Manager, my Regional Audit Manager told me that I was going to make mistakes. But I need to stand behind my decision and adjust for the future.

What are some of your passions outside of work?

I really enjoy traveling and visiting historical places. I also enjoy watching my daughter play lacrosse, reading, and playing golf.

I was an adjunct professor for a long time before things got busier, but I’ve always enjoyed teaching. It’s different from auditing and it’s great to see the people you’re teaching understand something new. That’s why I like being in DCAA management. I get to develop my staff and help them grow and improve.