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GFOA Newsletter
April 6, 2017
Using Benchmarks to Assess Portfolio Risk and Return

Finance offices measure portfolio risk and return results against appropriate market benchmarks to verify that all the organization’s investment objectives are being met and that portfolio investment returns are appropriate, based on the level of risk incurred. Investment yield, which measures the percentage increase or decrease that a portfolio generates during a given period, isn’t enough to adequately assess risk and performance. Governments should look at both performance and risk, which can be done by comparing the total return of the portfolio to carefully selected benchmarks. Total return provides a complete snapshot of the outcomes resulting from investment decisions since it measures the percent change in the value of a portfolio over a defined historical period.

A valid reference for an investment portfolio should closely resemble your government’s policy constraints and management practice in terms of duration, maturity range, average duration, security types, sector allocations, and credit quality. The benchmark should also be unambiguous and transparent, investable, and priced on a regular basis. The government should adopt the chosen benchmark before the evaluation and use the same one consistently.

GFOA’s best practice, Using Benchmarks to Assess Portfolio Risk and Return, provides more information.

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Association News
Thank You for Making Us More than 19,000 Strong

GFOA recently passed the 19,000 mark in membership. Thank you for continuing to introduce your colleagues to GFOA.

Refer a colleague who can benefit by becoming a GFOA member and help us reach 20,000 members! Click here to submit an application for GFOA’s membership campaign.

If you have any questions about GFOA membership, please contact GFOA.

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It’s Not Too Late to Save on GFOA’s Annual Conference and Catch Up on the Latest Best Practices!

Register TODAY to save with an advance discounted registration fee on GFOA’s 111th Annual Conference! Check out this year’s sessions covering topics related to accounting, auditing, budgeting, capital planning, debt management, financial reporting, pension and benefit administration, and treasury and investment management. Earn more than 20 CPE credits with your participation.

Once registered, reserve your room in GFOA’s official hotel block and buy tickets to GFOA’s Denver Rocks! Closing Event on Tuesday, May 23, from 7:00 to 10:30 pm featuring the Barenaked Ladies.

Don’t miss an opportunity to apply for a first-time annual conference attendee scholarship.
Please note that all 50 scholarships are committed for the States of California and Colorado.

See you in Denver! If you have any questions about the Annual Conference, contact GFOA.

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Learn Hands On about Public-Private Partnerships

Governments from across the United States and Canada have utilized public-private partnerships (P3) to help finance critical infrastructure improvement projects. In 2004, voters approved a referendum for the Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver’s FasTracks multi-modal transit expansion program. This project expanded transportation options to citizens of Denver’s metropolitan area, including the recent light commuter rail expansion to Denver International Airport, and provided a successful example of a P3 agreement to operate and maintain the system.

Speakers with wide-ranging knowledge of the project, especially in the complex areas of program finance, will discuss some of the project’s successes and lessons learned in the areas of project planning, financing, and ongoing monitoring during GFOA’s preconference seminar, FastTracks Project Tour and Lessons Learned,* on Friday, May 19 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. In addition, participants will be taken on a guided tour of the project’s facilities to get a behind-the-scenes perspective and witness RTD’s FasTracks program in operation.

Sign up for this preconference seminar and GFOA’s other preconference seminars. Earn 8 CPE credits with your participation.

* Note: Lunch and transportation for the facility tour is included as part of the registration fee. Specific locations on the tour stop will be announced at a later time. This session is limited to the first 100 registrants.

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News Links
Improving Government Hiring

Hiring and retaining top talent helps an organization stay competitive, and to compete with the private sector for talent, “public-sector organizations need to transform the ways they manage and develop their workforces,” according to Governing. Governments can do so by recruiting more from within, providing development opportunities, providing more flexibility, and incorporating data analytics to help find the best talent pipelines and the qualities most likely to be effective. Another tip: Focus more on talents than titles and stop structuring jobs around title, hierarchy, responsibilities, and educational requirements. 

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Denver Addresses a Nagging Problem with Its Public Restroom Pilot Program

Providing public restrooms might not be at the top of every government’s to-do list, but the City and County of Denver, Colorado, see it as an integral part of its community improvement effort. The city has a pilot program that collects data about public restroom use and placement, addressing too few public restroom facilities, which leads to incidents of public urination and defecation, according to CityLab. One of the key pieces of the program involves testing mobile restrooms in high-profile areas. The idea is to help planners determine the best place to install a new, permanent restroom. The pilot also involves reactivating existing public restrooms. “The restroom problem found a place on the city’s agenda in 2015 after gathering feedback from various stakeholders in 2014. During that time, officials found themselves regularly fielding resident complaints about passersby relieving themselves in public.”

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Help Employees Perceive Criticism as Something Helpful

“Used correctly, criticism can improve performance, enhance trust and respect, and advance the achievement of mutual goals,” according to Harvard Business Review. You can help your employees perceive your criticism as well-intended, and improve the odds that they’ll act on it, by following a few guidelines:

  • Engage the person in a specific solution.
  • Link the criticism to what’s most important to the employee.
  • Keep your voice and body language neutral.
  • Take note of employees’ feedback preferences.
Read More.
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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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