Little surprised Hale when he became the Pentagon's top financial manager in 2009, since he had had a long career dealing directly with military budgets and financial management. Little, that is, except for the recent uncertainty caused by delayed budgets and sequestration. "That is a surprise and an unwelcome one, I might add," he said. Managing those cuts and the stop-and-go budget process represent a major challenge ahead, but there's plenty else on Hale's plate. The department is developing a course-based certification program for its nearly 50,000 financial managers. And Hale is overseeing the process of getting the department up to auditability standards by 2017. "I don't want to lose sight of that, in light of all the budget chaos," he said. Hale spent a dozen years heading the Congressional Budget Office's National Security Division and another seven managing financial and budgetary matters as an assistant secretary of the Air Force. Summers loading fruit on his family's ranch near San Francisco persuaded him to pursue another career, but they weren't enough to turn him off of gardening altogether. Hale, 66, earned a B.S. in mathematics and statistics and an M.S. in operations research, both from Stanford University, and an M.B.A. from George Washington University. He served two and a half years as an active-duty naval officer and five years in the Navy Reserve.