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GFOA Newsletter
November 17, 2016
EMPLOYMENT ADS  |  TRAINING  |  BEST PRACTICES
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Diversification Mitigates Risk

Diversification—it’s such a simple concept, and such an effective method for managing investment risk. Governments should establish a target risk profile, considering investment objectives and constraints, risk tolerances, liquidity requirements, and the current risk/reward characteristics of the market. The profile helps determine appropriate levels of diversification, which is achieved by investing in a variety of securities with dissimilar risk characteristics that respond differently to changes in the market.

GFOA recommends a number of steps for implementing diversification strategies, including preparing a cash flow projection to determine liquidity needs and the level and distribution of risk that is appropriate for the portfolio and establishing limits on positions in specific securities to protect against default risk. For more tips, see the GFOA best practice, Diversifying the Investment Portfolio

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Association News
In Memoriam: Steven A. Solomon

Steven A. Solomon was a dedicated public servant who was committed to serving the community; his professional career focused on government financial reporting, internal controls, auditing, budgeting, finance, pensions, investments, and risk management. He was a valued and generous colleague and friend to many in the field of government finance. Solomon, 57, died November 11, 2016, after a brief illness.

Solomon made many contributions to GFOA and other organizations over his 32-year career. He was a member of GFOA’s Committee on Accounting, Auditing, and Financial Reporting , where he served as vice chair and chair. He was then elected to GFOA’s executive board in 2013. In 2014, he was hired as deputy director of GFOA’s Technical Services Center, which is responsible for GFOA’s member services involving accounting, auditing, and financial reporting. A GFOA member for 28 years, Solomon was a member of the Special Review Committee of GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program and also served as a reviewer for several GFOA publications, including Governmental Accounting, Auditing, and Financial Reporting (“blue book”). He wrote articles for the Treasury Management Newsletter, the GAAFR Review Newsletter, and for GFOA’s bi-monthly magazine, Government Finance Review. He also served as a trainer for GFOA national training programs including the Annual Governmental GAAP Update and was a frequent speaker at the GFOA annual conference.

Before joining GFOA, Solomon was the chief finance officer/director of finance for Prince William County, Virginia. He was also a past president of the Virginia Government Finance Officers Association and chaired the committees on standard setting and education. In addition, Solomon served as an advisor on the George Mason University Accounting Advisory Council; made presentations to the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants; and served as a member of Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s task forces on deferred inflows and outflows of resources and college and university financial reporting. Honors include a personal commendation from President Bill Clinton for service in the development of the Direct Student Loan Program; the Association of Government Accountants’ National Award for Distinguished Local Government Leadership in 2013; and the Virginia Government Finance Officers Association Innovation Award in 2008. Solomon received a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Miami University, where he majored in accountancy and economics, and a masters’ degree in public policy from George Washington University.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Mary Jane (Hoak) Solomon; daughters Rachel J. Solomon and Anna Schiller, and son-in-law John Schiller; parents Sheldon and Sherry Solomon; mother-in-law Johanna Hoak; brother Jeff Solomon and sister-in-law Rachael Solomon; and numerous other family and friends.

Solomon’s funeral service was held November 15 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Memorials can be made to the Government Finance Officers Association Scholarship Committee, in Chicago; Food for Others, in Fairfax, Virginia; or a charity of your choice.

Executive Board Nominating Committee Seeks Input

The GFOA Executive Board Nominating Committee is seeking recommendations for candidates to fill five at-large positions and the position of president-elect for the 2017-2018 GFOA Executive Board. All candidates must be active GFOA members. Please send nominations by December 31, 2016, to Heather Johnston, Past President, c/o GFOA, 203 N. LaSalle St., Ste. 2700, Chicago, IL 60601-1210.

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There’s Still Time
Register for Tomorrow’s Internet Training on Current Issues in Debt Management
 

Register for GFOA’s new Internet course, Current Issues in Debt Management ─ Post-Election Market Outlook and Disclosure Practices After MCDC, taking place tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m. (Eastern). Learn about the current market outlook for debt management and the importance of disclosure responsibilities following the SEC’s MCDC initiative. The seminar will offer a review of current market conditions, trends, and practices; discuss the impact of the election on the market; help you become familiar with SEC, MSRB, and IRS rulemaking that affects debt management programs; and give you the opportunity to interact with industry experts.

Earn 2 CPE credits with your participation. Read more and register.

If you have any questions about the training, e-mail GFOA Training. Note: This webinar will be a live broadcast of a portion of GFOA’s training, Debt Management for Frequent Issuers scheduled November 18, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois. Click here for more information on attending the full training seminar.
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Preserving the Tax Exemption—GFOA Grassroots

Now that the general election has concluded, we enter the hectic period of a new administration laying out its key goals and potential partnerships with Congress. Although President-elect Trump has not made municipal bonds a centerpiece of his campaign messaging, GFOA will work with the new administration to ensure that any new infrastructure financing plans recognize the importance of this centuries-long partnership, and that the tax-exemption remains intact. Through the municipal bond tax-exemption, the federal government continues to provide support for the federal, state, and local partnership that cannot be practically replicated by other means.

This is an especially important time for GFOA members to engage their Congressional representation on preserving the tax exemption on municipal bond interest and state and local deductibility. Please consider reaching out to your Congress representation and articulating what the preservation of the tax exemption means to your jurisdiction. GFOA provides materials to help in this effort, and to keep you informed, via the Federal Liaison Center’s Federal Tax Exemption on Municipal Bond Interest Resource Center.
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Fulfill Year-End CPE Requirements with GFOA

GFOA provides professional development training opportunities to thousands of state, provincial, and local-level government officials and other finance practitioners each year. Training courses are classified as basic, intermediate, advanced, update, or overview. Take part in CPE-accredited group-live courses or enjoy the convenience of training at your desktop with group Internet-based seminars and web-streaming courses.

Take advantage of the following year-end CPE opportunities:

NOVEMBER

Group Internet-Based Courses

DECEMBER

Web-Stream Event

Group-Live Courses

Chicago, Illinois

Austin, Texas

Group Internet-Based Courses

If you have any questions about GFOA training, contact GFOA.

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No Newsletter Next Week

The GFOA Newsletter won’t be published on Thursday, November 24, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

News Links
Hidden Stormwater Infrastructure Creates Visible Benefits

The City of Saint Paul, Minnesota, has 450 miles of storm sewers and tunnels, performing  the extremely important role of moving stormwater away from land as quickly and efficiently as possible, Governing reports. But the systems and process are by design invisible, making them easily forgotten, with the obvious potential consequences for maintenance.

Saint Paul is dealing with this situation by treating stormwater as a visible and valuable resource, using it to water trees along the light rail transit system (via permeable pavers and layers of engineered soil), and irrigating the field and flushing the toilets at the minor league baseball stadium. Next, the city hopes to maximize public benefit by managing stormwater in innovative, eco-friendly ways at major urban brownfield sites. This effort would help elevate property value, catalyze neighborhood revitalization, and attract strategic investment along transit corridors, in addition to bringing increasingly scarce land back onto the tax rolls.

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Digital Services Needed to Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness

Governments continue to consider the best use and scale for digital services, looking for ways to create more effective policies, solve problems faster, and deliver services more effectively. Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government, a new report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government, delves into ways government can improve its use of digital technologies to improve efficiency and effectiveness, the customer experience, citizen engagement, and innovation through leadership and talent, process, scale, and governance. 

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Governments to Face More Pressure to Improve Service

“Improving citizen engagement requires good customer service,” according to Government Executive—and truly improving the customer experience requires more than just digital tools. Governments have historically faced problems including “legacy IT systems, process and organizational silos, and restrictions on data sharing,” all of which “made it difficult to provide a seamless government customer experience to the public.”

Governments are increasingly aiming to provide an experience that is “integrated, user-friendly, and allows the public to get their problem solved via their channel of choice. Whether people want to go online, chat, e-mail, or talk to a person, the digital services platforms should deliver.”

At the same time, more than 60% of citizens also want quick access to human assistance when they believe their question or issue cannot be easily resolved, according to the article. Calls going to call agents will become more complex, meaning these employees will need more training.

“The transition to a citizen-centric approach will require making new investments, embracing new disciplines, and a renewed focus on business process and outcomes,” the article said.

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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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