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GFOA Newsletter
June 16, 2016
EMPLOYMENT ADS  |  TRAINING  |  BEST PRACTICES
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GFOA’s 2016 Awards for Excellence in Government Finance, Part 1

GFOA announced the winners of its 2016 Awards for Excellence in Government Finance: the City of Baltimore’s OutcomeStat, and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s risk mitigation initiative. The awards recognize contributions to the practice of government finance that exemplify outstanding financial management, stressing practical, documented work that offers leadership to the profession and promotes improved public finance. The awards were presented at the GFOA’s annual conference in Toronto, May 24, 2016.

Baltimore received the Award for Excellence in Management and Service Delivery for its OutcomeStat project, developed recently to align the city’s outcome budgeting and CitiStat performance data tracking system processes, while adding a strategic planning component that engages more external city partners.

CalPERs' entry will be featured in next week's newsletter. 

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Association News
GFOA Broadens Scope of Cash Basis Award Program to Encompass Regulatory Reporting

In a further effort to enhance the quality of financial reporting by small governments, GFOA has expanded the scope of its award program for small government cash basis financial reports to include those prepared on a state-mandated regulatory basis. GFOA’s goal is to improve the transparency of such reports by including additional information such as a letter of transmittal, information on individual funds, budgetary comparisons, and limited information on five-year financial trends. This change will take effect starting with reports for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. If you have any questions about participating in the program, please contact Steven A. Solomon, deputy director of the Technical Services Center at GFOA, at 312-977-9700 or cashbasis@gfoa.org

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Understanding the Flaw of Averages

Central to understanding risk is a concept called the “flaw of averages”—the idea that a single average number obscures the variation in the data. In “A Financially Resilient Organization is a Risk-Aware Organization,” a session at GFOA’s May 2016 annual conference in Toronto, Process Improvement Specialist with the City and County of Denver's Peak Performance Initiative Melissa Files and Executive Director of ProbabilityManagement.org Sam Savage discussed uncertainty in financial planning. They pointed out that understanding potential variation from your average is key to understanding risk because you need to know how likely it is that your actual experience will come in under or over your estimate.

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Helping Citizens Extract Information from Data

The general public has neither the time nor the technical expertise for using highly detailed financial information—they need guidance on how to extract information from your data. For example, terms that are commonplace for government finance officers are often completely foreign to most citizens, according to “Helping Citizens Extract Information from Data,” a session at GFOA’s May 2016 conference in Toronto. Therefore, the titles, labels, and other descriptors picked up from your financial system may need to be changed to more citizen-friendly terminology. Working with actual citizens who have an interest in government transparency is a good way to find out where terms need to be changed and what they should be changed to.

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Jurisdictions Win Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for First Time

The following jurisdictions are first-time winners of GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award: City of Doral, Florida; Metropolitan Park District of the Toledo Area, Ohio; Fort Worth Independent School District, Texas; City of Texarkana, Texas; and City of Haslet, Texas.

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News Links
Cities and States Brace for the Next Disaster

Flooding is the most costly natural disaster in the United States, costing an average of $8 billion in damages annually, and it’s also the most deadly. But municipalities and states are struggling to prepare for more severe storms and rising sea levels, with no formal planning processes, much less implemented changes, according to Frontline. Some communities are starting to take action -- "for example, in southern Florida, several communities have banded together to form a regional compact to mitigate climate change, which includes efforts to monitor and restore Florida’s coral reefs and provide financial incentives to businesses to become more energy efficient. And cities like Seattle, Portland, and Chicago have invested in green infrastructure, building up the amount of grass and foliage in city spaces to both decrease storm water runoff, filter pollutants, and cut down on urban heat.” 

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Approaching Water System Repairs

If you are not already struggling with a water crisis, you soon will be, according to Grist. Cutting maintenance on old infrastructure can save money, “but those postponed repairs have resulted in massive leaks that can claim a third or more of a city’s water.” Other concerns include lead poisoning, bacterial contamination, and untreated hospital waste. While the cost of making upgrades is daunting, the costs of delaying repairs are even greater, according to the article. The solutions discussed in the article include smart water meters, sensors, and strategy – instead of shooting for an arbitrary goal, municipalities should work to replace pipes that are on the verge of failure before less pressing updates.

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Improving Local Economies the St. Louis Way

Business Insider called St. Louis, Missouri, the “fastest-growing startup scene” in the country earlier this year, and this new – and some might have thought unlikely – “hotbed of hotbed of entrepreneurship” provides lessons for improving local economies. “For decades, St. Louis followed the familiar economic development playbook: try to attract big out-of-town companies, or keep local ones from leaving, by showering them with tax breaks and other subsidies. While it hasn’t exactly abandoned that old strategy, St. Louis has increasingly shifted to a new one of attempting to grow its own small firms. Metro areas across the country are trying to do the same, in many cases with little to show for their efforts. St. Louis seems to have hit on the right formula,” according to Washington Monthly. So, what is St. Louis doing that works so well? Connectivity.

“In the past, St. Louis was not without entrepreneurial energy … but it existed in disconnected pockets. This stymied the formation of an ‘entrepreneurial genealogy’ that occurs when successful entrepreneurs from one generation become the next generation’s mentors and investors. This genealogy is a distinguishing characteristic of places like Silicon Valley. A metro area without this genealogy needs to create it by bringing together the disconnected pockets,” according to the article. And in this case, the secret wasn’t creating lots of places for “serendipitous unexpected connections” (often referred to as “collisions") to occur: instead, non-profit organizations intentionally and deliberately built connections and networks.

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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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