Government Finance Officers Find Strength in Numbers

Anne Spray Kinney, Director of GFOA's Research & Consulting Division

May 9, 2012

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada provides many valuable services to public-sector finance professionals at the state and local level. Founded in 1906, GFOA has more than 17,000 members who look to it as the gold standard for identifying, developing and communicating leading practices in government management.

As a non-profit organization, GFOA’s mission is to enhance and promote the professional management of governments for the public benefit. GFOA accomplishes this mission by identifying and developing financial policies and practices and promoting them through its consulting, research, publications, training and awards programs. GFOA works to keep these offerings up to date and relevant to its members’ needs.

GFOA also makes sure its consultants are aware of member needs and challenges. Finding savings through efficiency and productivity gains is critical, and accurate budgets and plans are more important than ever. With their many years of direct public-sector experience, GFOA’s consultants can help governments meet whatever challenges they might face. GFOA Consulting is proud of its independence, local government expertise, knowledge of best management practices and track record of successful projects with cities, counties, schools and special districts, which is second to none.

GFOA Consulting is working with the vendor community to stay up to date on technology advances like cloud-based solutions and the increased use of social media, and it continues to tailor its software selection approach for smaller jurisdictions, helping them attain quality services at a lower price. GFOA’s consultants are also conducting a GFOA member survey on ERP experiences and will share their findings at the GFOA’s annual conference, to be held June 9-12 in Chicago, Ill.

The GFOA is particularly excited about its newest resource, an easy-to-use online self-assessment tool that allows users to see how well they’re doing in every major area of their financial management, measuring themselves against the best practices of the public sector. The model helps improve the functioning of the entire organization by strengthening its financial management capacity. GFOA will offer information and demonstrations about the financial self-assessment model, and more information about joining GFOA’s self-assessment community is available at www.gfoa.org/FMModel.

Based on demands for independent and objective consulting services, GFOA has developed a specialized practice area in performance management and business process improvement called Lean Finance. Lean Finance is a series of tools and resources to help users get started with process improvement. Lean is focused on helping organizations understand their processes, develop measures and improve operations through monitoring and continuous improvement. GFOA consultants go through all the steps needed to get a jurisdiction comfortable with Lean tools and analytical methods, at which point the government can continue to examine business processes on its own and begin to develop a culture of continuous improvement. These projects often relate to technology, where GFOA can assist by providing strategic IT planning, assessing the ability of legacy technology systems to support a government’s goals, and assisting with the procurement of integrated enterprise systems.

Another excellent resource is GFOA’s Financial Recovery website, which provides 12 detailed steps for coping with financial distress. The site walks users through the beginning-to-end process for recovery, provides a catalog of fiscal first-aid techniques, and lists additional resources. This and other materials about long-term planning and GFOA planning resources are available at www.gfoa.org.

More information on GFOA, how to become a member, or how to take advantage of membership benefits is located at www.gfoa.org. For more information on GFOA Consulting, contact Anne Kinney at the GFOA Research and Consulting Center at 312-917-6012, or by e-mail at akinney@gfoa.org, or visit us at www.gfoaconsulting.org.