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Defense Comptrollership Program Celebrates 70 Years of Educating Military in Financial Management

DCP class of 1953

One of the groups that the Whitman School has been welcoming to is members of the active U.S. military and its veterans. Nowhere is this more apparent than Whitman’s Defense Comptrollership Program (DCP), which in 2023 celebrated the 70th anniversary of its first graduating class. 

The program began in 1952 as the Army Comptrollership Program, created for U.S. Army officers to improve financial management practices found to be unsatisfactory during World War II. Working with the University, the Department of Defense (DoD) expanded its ability to identify and mitigate risk to become a more efficiently managed organization. The program has evolved over the years, as it continues to meet the DoD’s need for highly trained financial managers responsible for billions of dollars of the U.S. budget. In 2003, Whitman combined efforts with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs to offer a dual degree program—an MBA and an master’s degree in public administration (M.P.A.). In 2006, the program was renamed the Defense Comptrollership Program, welcoming all branches of the military and civil servants. In 2019, under the leadership of Irma Finocchiaro ’91 MBA, former director of Defense Programs, the DCP implemented a curriculum revision to include a concentration in business analytics, as well as a number of targeted graduate certifications. 

“Our graduates leave with the skills to manage the largest discretionary budget in the country, over $800 billion. That’s a larger economy than most countries. The military is making a serious investment in these individuals, and we, in turn, are using all the resources available to prepare them for outstanding careers in public service,” explains Finocchiaro, who stepped down in February after more than 12 years. Finocchiaro retired from the DoD as a member of the senior executive services after 43 years leading financial management activities in the Department of the Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She is a 1991 graduate of the DCP. 

DCP class of 2023

DCP Class of 2023


Over 70 years, the highly competitive DCP has graduated approximately 2,100 students. DCP classes are held at the Whitman and Maxwell schools over 14 months and cover topics ranging from economics and accounting to ethics and counter threat finance. Classes average 27 students—typically two-thirds uniformed service members and the remainder civilian employees. Like many executive education students, the DCP students continue to receive their ordinary compensation and benefits, while their tuition is paid by the DoD. Graduates go on to serve in financial leadership positions, some in the Senior Executive Service and others as general officers. Several DCP graduates have served as chief financial executives of federal agencies and in the private sector.

The DCP is now under the direction of Thomas Constable ’04 MBA/M.P.A., who joined Whitman in September 2023. Like Finocchiaro, he is a retired senior executive, having served as an acting assistant secretary of defense and senior financial manager in the Pentagon and overseas. He is a retired Army officer and 2004 DCP graduate. 

“My own experience with the DCP gave me the tools I needed to take on huge leadership responsibilities later in my career. I am thrilled and humbled to have the opportunity to teach other public servants—military or civilian—to seek, accept and succeed in the senior leadership opportunities and challenges ahead of them,” he explains. “This program began 70 years ago as a way to build better budget officers for the Army. Today, we are building and shaping senior national security leaders with superior financial skills; I look forward to being a part of that in the years ahead.” 

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  • Corporate Partners
  • Defense Program
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