Having trouble viewing this email? Click here for the web version.
GFOA Newsletter
July 6, 2017
Jeff Esser Retires after 35 Years as GFOA Executive Director

When Jeff Esser retired on June 30 as executive director/chief executive officer and became Executive Director Emeritus, he completed a long career with GFOA. Government Finance Review sat down with Jeff as he reflected on his career with the association, changes in the profession, and his thoughts on state and local government finance. Highlights of the article include Jeff’s thoughts on the biggest changes he’s seen in the government finance profession, his most significant achievements at GFOA, why we need to focus on performance management, and the role of public-sector CFOs in the coming years.

Read More.
Meet GFOA’s New Executive Director, Chris Morrill

GFOA’s new executive director/chief executive officer, Christopher Morrill, has a long relationship with the association – he’s been an active member for most of his career, serving as a board member and as president of the organization from 2012 to 2013. Chris has spent a majority of his career in municipal finance, currently as city manager for the City of Roanoke, Virginia, and previously as assistant city manager and research and budget director for the City of Savannah, Georgia. Morrill also spent three years with the Kellogg National Leadership Program working on community building in Northern Ireland, South Africa, China, and Peru. Government Finance Review will feature a profile of Chris in its August 2017 issue, so stay tuned.

Association News
State and Local Governments in the Spotlight of Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

A number of cases involving state and local governments have been heard during the U.S. Supreme Court’s current term, and some decisions may have a lasting impact. In Bank of America v. Miami, the court recently ruled by 5-3 that local governments have standing to bring Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuits alleging discriminatory lending practices against banks. In the suit, the City of Miami, Florida, claimed that Bank of America and Wells Fargo intentionally issued riskier mortgages on less favorable terms to minority customers. According to the city, this practice led to foreclosures and vacancies that harmed the city through decreased property values; it also reduced property tax revenue and increased the city’s costs.

For extended summaries of the cases GFOA tracks, and other cases involving state and local government issues, visit the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC). GFOA is an associate member of the State and Local Legal Center, which files amicus curiae briefs in support of state and local governments in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The SLLC will also host a Supreme Court Review Webinar on July 13, 2017 at 1 p.m. (Eastern). 

Read More.
Congressional Hearing Focuses on Social Security Coverage and Payroll Tax Compliance for State and Local Governments 

On June 29, 2017, the House Ways and Means Subcommittees on Social Security and on Oversight held a joint hearing titled “Complexities and Challenges of Social Security Coverage and Payroll Tax Compliance for State and Local Governments.” The hearing focused on how the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and states could work together to manage Section 218 Agreements, which allow state and local governments to enter into voluntary agreements between the state and the SSA to allow their employees, if eligible, to participate in Social Security.

The committee heard testimony from only three witnesses. Two were from the federal government (IRS and the SSA), and the third was Maryann Motza, former CORBA Committee member, representing the National Conference of State Social Security Administrators. In her remarks, Motza stressed that the working relationship between SSA, IRS, and the states still face challenges, but improving the lines of communication and strengthening the role of each entity could vastly improve the administration of 218 agreements. Motza cautioned that any effort to strengthen the federal, state, and local relationship in this area should not be viewed as an opportunity to require mandatory Social Security coverage for public employees or for the federal government to intervene in the administration of state and local government pensions. 

Read More.
GFOA Submits Second Comment Letter on MSRB Rule to Require CUSIPS for Private Placements 

On June 30, 2017, GFOA filed comments requested by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) on a second draft of its amendments to Rule G-34. The amendments are intended to clarify exceptions to the proposed rule on obtaining CUSIPs for securities sold in private placement transactions. In its comments, GFOA once again emphasized a major and overriding concern: “Without clear language on how this exception can be easily met, the proposed amendment will dampen demand for bank loan and direct purchase financings entered into by state and local governments and authorities and therefore raise borrowing costs.”

To help clarify the exception, GFOA referred the American Bankers Association’s suggestion to refine the language to “investor representation” of holding the securities to maturity. GFOA also directed the MSRB to the common practice of state and local government bonds purchased by other state and local governments with no intention to resell and urged the MSRB to add this to the exception. Finally, GFOA encouraged the MSRB to consider certain types of transactions such as competitive sales where obtaining CUSIPs could deter the potential bid of a private placement. 

GFOA’s Federal Liaison Center will keep members up-to-date on next steps and potential advancement of this rule clarification in the coming weeks.

Read More.
Missed Some Sessions from GFOA’s Annual Conference? Catch Up with the Audio Recordings

If you missed some sessions from the Annual Conference, GFOA has audio recorded most of the sessions so you will be able to bring the conference to your office. The audio recordings offer a unique learning opportunity regardless of whether you attended the Denver conference.

Click here to access the order form. Order online.* Each purchaser will receive an audio recording of the Tuesday, May 23, keynote panel discussion, “Government and the Economics of Health Care.”  CPE credits are not awarded for listening to the recordings.

To purchase a track using GFOA’s e-store, log into your e-store account, go to the “Books” tab and then to the category “2017 Conference Sessions — Online Content” to add the tracks to your cart. Once purchased, you will receive a receipt from estore@gfoa.org and instructions about how to access the recordings from publications@gfoa.org. If you submit your order via mail, fax, or e-mail, you will receive a receipt via mail and instructions about how to access the recordings from publications@gfoa.org.

Save the date! GFOA’s 112th Annual Conference will take place May 6−9, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri. Registration will open on November 6. The call for session topics is now open. Click here to access a submission form.

News Links
Can a Cyberattack Lead to a Credit Rating Downgrade?

No government has yet faced a credit rating downgrade because of a cyberattack, but the danger is real for small governments that have less financial flexibility, Governing reported. The problem is the amount it can cost to recover from such an attack, along with the potential cost to taxpayer trust – eroded trust can hinder a government’s ability to raise taxes. A few local governments have fallen victim to ransomware attacks in 2017. 

Read More.
Governments Use Strategic Budgeting Best Practices to Improve Efficiency

Increasingly, a strategic budgeting approach encompasses both operational and communications approaches that will enable state and local governments to plan for the future, take into account various stakeholder input, implement decisions, and communicate back to stakeholders, clearly and often, according to an executive brief from OpenGov. Technology can play a critical role in helping organizations accomplish these tasks faster and more consistently. In addition to discussing ways that organization-wide best practices improve strategic budgeting endeavors, the brief includes case studies from Boulder City, Nevada; Burnet, Texas; and Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

For more guidance, also check out GFOA’s best practices on budgeting.

Read More.
The Importance of the Decision-Making Process

How well your government makes decisions is directly correlated with the quality of the people it is able to hire and retain. An article from SmartBrief provides a common example about a manager who’s frustrated about employees who won’t make decisions on their own and then act on them. What was needed was an examination of the organizational roadblocks that prevented effective decision making. The article summarizes seven common “decision-making sins” and suggests remedies.

The sins include the lack of an effective decision-making process, leading to decisions often being delayed or overturned; no decision-making training for employees, resulting in a wide variety in the quality of decisions; inadequate decision-making autonomy for all employees; a culture that punishes employees if they make the wrong decision, making employees likely to avoid making decisions at all; and routing decisions through one person, creating delays and employees who become disillusioned with their career prospects.

To address these problems, organizations can “outline financial and procedural limits for decisions at every operating level in the division”; create cross-functional teams “to improve information sharing and collaboration”; establish “project checkpoints” early in the planning process “to encourage teams to collaborate outside of the division with other departments or functions”; make sure leaders communicate rather than controlling information; and reward input as well as outcomes. 

Read More.
Send to a Friend  |  GFOA Website  |  Contact Us  |  Unsubscribe

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.


Informz for iMIS