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GFOA Newsletter
February 4, 2016
EMPLOYMENT ADS  |  TRAINING  |  BEST PRACTICES
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Your Legislative and Regulatory Resource Center

It can be difficult to keep up on the legislative and regulatory issues that have wide-ranging effects for state and local governments. GFOA’s Federal Liaison Center can help – use its Resource Center to navigate complex issues such as bank-qualified municipal bonds, the liquidity coverage ratio rule, the federal tax exemption on muni bond interest, and the Marketplace Fairness Act. For example, take a look at the Federal Liaison Center’s coverage of the latest on the effort to get municipal securities classified as high quality liquid assets. Also, check out our new Resource Center on bank-qualified debt. 

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Association News
House Approves Bill to Classify Muni Securities as High Quality Liquid Assets

On February 1, the House voted to approve HR 2209, bipartisan legislation that would require federal regulators to classify all investment-grade, liquid, and readily marketable municipal securities as high quality liquid assets (HQLA). This important legislation is necessary to amend the liquidity coverage ratio rule approved by federal regulators last fall, which classifies foreign sovereign debt securities as HQLA while excluding investment-grade municipal securities in any of the acceptable investment categories for banks to meet new liquidity standards.

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GFOA Unveils Bank-Qualified Debt Resource Center

This week, GFOA unveiled a new resource center to help local governments support HR 2229 – the Municipal Bond Market Support Act of 2015, legislation to increase the bank-qualified debt limit from $10 million to $30 million. Selling bank-qualified bonds directly to banks decreases debt issuance costs for governments by an estimated 25 to 40 basis points.

GFOA urges its members to write to their Congressional representatives today and ask that they cosponsor HR 2229. A draft letter is available here.

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Expand Your Knowledge and Your Network at GFOA’s Annual Conference

GFOA’s 110th Annual Conference, Sharing Solutions and Strategies, May 22–25, 2016, in Toronto, Ontario, will feature more than 60 educational sessions. Come hear leading practitioners and recognized experts in the field of public finance discuss case studies, lessons learned, and innovative approaches to addressing common challenges. Speakers will include both U.S. and Canadian representatives and provide delegates a unique and valuable opportunity to network and share with a wide variety of state and local government public finance practitioners. Go to GFOA’s website and click on the “Annual Conference” tab to register for the conference and access the brochure. Earn more than 20 CPE credits with your participation.

Reserve your housing through GFOA’s official hotel block and take advantage of GFOA’s arranged travel discounts with Air Canada, Delta, Porter, United, and Hertz Rental Car. Toronto has many attractions, events, and places to visit to help make your conference trip enjoyable ─ sign up for this year’s tours!

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Contact GFOA with Your Questions.
Apply for a First-Time Conference Attendee Scholarship

If you are a first-time annual conference attendee who is a GFOA active (government) member, we encourage you to apply for an annual conference scholarship in the amount of the full-conference registration fee. Fifty scholarships will be awarded per state or province in the order the applications are received. If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, please e-mail First Annual Conference.

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Reminder!

Passports. All delegates traveling to Toronto from the United States will need a passport. Please plan ahead; obtaining a passport can take approximately 4-6 weeks. 
     Information on applying for or renewing a passport
     Information for first-time passport application

Driving to Toronto. To reenter the United States, citizens need a U.S. passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license, Trusted Traveler Program card (Nexus, Sentri, Fast), U.S. Military ID card (when on official orders), U.S. merchant mariner document (when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business), or form I-872 American Indian Card. Click here for more information.

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Maximize Your Training Opportunities by Participating in GFOA’s Preconference Seminars

GFOA’s preconference seminars provide an opportunity for attendees to get in-depth training on topics of vital importance to finance officers. Come to Toronto a little early and participate in GFOA’s preconference seminars on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21. Earn additional CPE credits with your participation.

For example, check out The Cost of Government (Saturday, May 21, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 4 CPE credits). GFOA has a best practice on measuring the cost of government services. However, many organizations suffer from lack of accurate cost information, and struggle implementing processes that track the cost of government services, specifically for programs and services. This makes it difficult for decision makers to make informed decisions and for the organization to communicate this information with the public. Presenters will discuss what program/activity costing is, its pros and cons, its uses for the organization, and tips for implementation. The focus of the seminar will be on program costing and the chart of accounts, budgeting, charges and fees, performance management, and financial systems. The speakers for this preconference seminar are Eunjoo Greenhouse, Deputy Director of Finance and Business Operations Division, King County, Washington; and Melinda Munro, Owner and Lead Consultant, Munro Strategic Perspective. (View the course agenda.)

Another session you’ll want to consider is Finance Under the Microscope (Saturday, May 21, 1 to 5 p.m., 4 CPE credits). Finance officers must understand and master highly technical and complex aspects of accounting, budgeting, revenue forecasts, capital finance, investing, risk management, pensions, tax policies, and other public finance topics while also being able to effectively communicate the critical elements to a much less finance-savvy audience. Adding to that challenge, finance officers are relied on to deliver information under heightened levels of scrutiny and pressure from elected officials, the public, interest groups, and the media. The finance officer must be an effective communicator, deliver a consistent message to various stakeholders, and still get across key points so that the audience can understand the issues and, most importantly, their impact. In this seminar, finance officers will have the opportunity to refine their communication skills, both written and spoken, in a workshop setting, and learn effective techniques for communicating technical information, as well as how to deal with difficult situations and environments and how to be viewed as a credible and reliable source of information. The speakers are Rick Callender, Deputy Administrative Officer, Office of Government Relations, Santa Clara Valley Water District, California; and Adam Kernan-Schloss, President and CEO, KSA-Plus Communications. (View the course agenda.)

Click here to register for the above seminar and other preconference seminars.

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GASB Invites Constituents to Respond to Online Survey on Revenue Recognition for Exchange Transactions

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is inviting interested parties to participate in an online survey designed to help the board identify issues that arise in connection with the recognition of revenue from exchange transactions. The specific goal of the survey is to: 1) identify issues practitioners have encountered in practice; 2) identify exchange transactions involving multiple-elements; and 3) determine the frequency of transactions with certain features (sales with a right of return, unexercised rights, discounts). The deadline for completing the survey is February 19, 2016.  

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Take the Survey.
Take 29% Off on All Elected Official’s Guide Sets in February

Visit GFOA’s publications page to check out GFOA’s popular Elected Official’s Guide Sets on accounting, budgeting, cash management and debt, management, monitoring and control, and pensions and benefits. Purchase a starter or a complete set to fit your financial management needs.

The entire Elected Official’s series provides practical and easy-to-understand explanations – in plain language – on a variety of public finance topics. Using a simple question-and-answer format, each one provides a thorough introduction to a single topic. An affordable price structure and quantity discounts make these booklets ideal for distribution to newly elected officials, government employees, citizen and taxpayer groups, the media, and others interested in local government finance.

Download the publication titles listing and submit the enclosed order form to GFOA. Enter code GFOA29 on the order form. (This offer expires on February 29, 2016. The discount cannot be applied when ordering online using GFOA’s e-store. Offer applies to new publication orders only and cannot be combined with any other discount.)
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Lend Your Support to Preserve the Tax Exemption on Municipal Bond Interest

As Congress and the White House return to discussions on comprehensive federal tax reform in 2016, GFOA is urging its members to help engage federal lawmakers regarding the need to preserve the tax exemption on municipal bond interest. In addition to the resources already available for your use on our federal government relations page, GFOA also urges its members to sign their jurisdictions onto this letter to the leaders of the House and Senate tax-writing committees, expressing support for the tax exemption. Beyond GFOA’s membership, the letter is also being distributed by our colleagues at the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, and the National Association of State Treasurers. Our aim is to secure the support of hundreds of jurisdictions, demonstrating to Congress the immense support for this provision of the tax code. Jurisdictions that are interested in signing on should contact Emma Heydlauff (Emma@statetreasurers.org) by February 15.

 

News Links
Updating Technology Practices

Is your government using outdated IT methodologies? Brookings suggests that practices such as the waterfall method of software development (in which the system isn’t tested until the end of the project), or an inability to adequately deal with cybersecurity issues caused by multiple products from multiple vendors, are based on obsolete ideas (which worked well with older technology but are no longer adequate) or “good on the surface” ideas (which mask complexities that render the thinking useless). Brookings will run a series of pieces on this issue.

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Jurisdictions Trying to Sell Off Expensive Buildings

As commercial real estate prices rebound, some states are seeing opportunities to sell properties that cost too much to operate, according to Stateline. The reasons vary – these buildings are “high-maintenance, lack adequate parking, or are simply old and smelly” – and the properties include a state-owned building that occupies a full block in downtown Chicago, six old houses in North Carolina’s state capital, and an office tower (which the city received as a gift) in a prime Atlanta location.

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Tips for Organizing Learning Content

Governments manage a sometimes overwhelming amount of information. When dealing with internal learning content, there are some options for doing a better job of organizing information. Commonly recommended strategies – creating better naming structures, organizing information into folders, and adding metadata – have limitations, GovLoop notes. Better strategies include organizing the content in a matrix format, making pages visually appealing, creating learning paths that connect related content, and empowering a team of “learning concierges.”

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Government Logos: More than a Design Consideration?

A design strategist says the public sector, in all its forms, needs to do a better job of branding itself – specifically, in the form of better logos. A more unified “visual identity system” would help citizens “know what government does," according to Ozy. (One example: the Netherlands, which uses the same logo on all web pages, documents, etc.) The designer points out that a single logo across all a jurisdiction’s departments and agencies would also cut costs for creating multiple graphics.

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Editor: Marcy Boggs  |  Executive Director/CEO: Jeffrey Esser

The GFOA Newsletter (ISSN 1051-6964) is published weekly by
the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.
Correspondence regarding editorial and/or business matters should be sent to
GFOA, 203 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2700, Chicago, IL 60601-1210. Phone - 312/977-9700 FAX - 312/977-4806.

 


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