Preconference Seminars

GFOA's preconference seminars provide the opportunity for attendees to get in-depth training on topics vitally important to finance officers. Come to Toronto a day or two early to take advantage of these longer workshops.  Participation in pre-conference sessions provides the opportunity for an additional 12 CPE.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Financial Leadership

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

Finding solutions for many of the financial challenges facing local governments requires not only technical financial skills, but also competency in financial leadership. This session will be focused on identifying characteristics of financial leaders and helping to develop and refine necessary skills at all levels of the organization (not only the CFO). Speakers will present case study examples and leading practices on how to identify and develop leadership skills in your organization and prepare the next generation of leaders to emerge with the tools, skills, and experience necessary to drive financial leadership. This session will also highlight work from GFOA’s task force on financial resiliency and identify specific ways that finance can be a driver for a more financially resilient government. Specific recommendations from the task force related to finance and strategic planning, budgeting, economic development, capital planning, and overall risk management will be discussed.

Internal Control and Technology

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 4 CPE Credits
In recent years, governments have dramatically increased the automation and integration of their business processes and application controls as a result of the widespread move to modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, including the use of many hosted or “cloud” applications. These developments have created significant internal control challenges that the authoritative standard-setting body for internal control, the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO), sought to address in its recently revised and expanded guidelines. The revised COSO guidelines place special emphasis on the need for organizations to update their framework of internal control (policies, procedures, business processes, etc.) in order to manage the risks created by new ways in which organizations are using their information technology applications. This session will examine the most significant risks associated with the latest applications of information technology and provide participants practical guidance on how to avoid or mitigate those risks. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Cost of Government

8:30 a.m. – 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. This session 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.

Best Practices in Managing Payroll

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 4 CPE Credits
Many finance officers have responsibility for payroll. With that comes responsibility to manage a process that accounts for approximately 85% of an organization's operating budget, maintain compliance with an ever changing set of state and federal legislative and regulatory requirements, navigate business rules further complicated by unique collective bargaining requirements, and perform with zero margin for error. And while just about every organization is able to manage these tasks routinely, there are often opportunities for significant improvements. This session will explore best practices in managing payroll, including the role of HR and finance, how to incorporate internal controls, use of technology, third-party service providers, recommendations on dealing with an ever changing set of compliance requirements, and case study examples from local governments that have successfully improved their payroll processes and overall payroll functions.

Finance Under a Microscope

1:00 – 5:00 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 session, 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.


Taking an afternoon session on Friday or Saturday?

  • An afternoon snack will be available in your session room.

Taking a morning session on Saturday?

  • A continental breakfast will be available in your session room.

Taking both a morning and afternoon session on Saturday?

  • Enjoy a continental breakfast and afternoon snack in your session room, as well as a grab-and-go lunch.