Conference Sessions

A tentative schedule for sessions at the 2018 annual conference is listed below. Speakers for all sessions will be announced in February 2018.

Note: As GFOA continues to refine the program, additional sessions may be added.

75 Sessions

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 3:35pm to 4:50pm
Monday, May 7, 2018 - 4:15pm to 5:30pm

Studies suggest that price transparency in health care could create an annual savings of more than $36 billion in medical costs – if patients and providers could get price information easily. However, that simply isn’t possible, and as consumers, governments are at a significant disadvantage in shopping for health care. Price information is not transparent, and making comparisons across options is not easy. Attend this session to understand the issues and to learn what steps governments can take to obtain the information they need in order to make more informed decisions about their health-care benefits.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

Want to learn more about how to make that budget book resonate with your governing body and community? How about learning more on how to improve the budget process that drives all that goes into the book too? This session will focus on creating budget books that align with GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award criteria and a budget process that incorporates GFOA's best practice guidelines. Presenters will share examples of budget books that clearly communicate an organization's objectives and financial information and also share insights on how to make your budget process more effective.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

Governments are being hit by an ever-increasing number of cyberattacks that range from targeting citizens’ private information to stealing funds. Without appropriate measures, including risk management, cyber insurance, and business continuity plans, government data are at risk. In this session, experts will explain how to defend against online fraudsters and detail creative and innovative solutions to cyber security, even if your government faces budget and staffing constraints.

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

When it comes to ethics, most people know the "right" thing to do. The problem is actually doing it in the face of pressures to do the "wrong" thing. In fact, ethical tragedies are usually the result of people who sit silently on the sidelines afraid or uncertain of what to do about a transgression. At this session you will learn a distinctive new approach to ethics, called "Giving Voice to Values," which is focused on how to enact the values that we already know-- think of it as a "self-defense class for your soul."

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 1:30pm to 2:20pm

Public participation in government is an essential part of our democratic tradition. Local government, as the government closest to the people, is uniquely positioned to rehabilitate our democratic capacities. However, the conventional approach to public engagement is often painful for all involved and produces little useful insight for decision making. Fortunately, it doesn't need to be that way. At this session you will hear from local governments who have used unconventional models of public engagement. You will learn what they did, how it helped them, and how you can do the same for your community.

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

The cloud is no longer a novelty. The number of mature cloud customers is growing and the entire market is evolving creating both significant benefits for government, and lessons learned to discover both strengths and weaknesses. This session will address effective contract management practices for cloud services. Factors that will be discussed include service-level agreements, data and product ownership, liability, and transfer of services. Speakers will offer advice on how to avoid pitfalls in subscription contracts and how to best use cloud services to your benefit.

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 4:15pm to 5:30pm

We may all just seem like "finance" staff to the uninitiated, but the languages/mindsets of accounting versus budgeting staff are often not so readily transferable. Accurately reporting on prior years' actuals and allocating funds for the future are both essential for the financial sustainability of any organization and can be cross-utilized to better inform and improve one another. This session will discuss how to bridge the gap between accounting and budgeting and how staff can collaborate to more effectively complete their individual functions and ultimately better serve their organization.

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

Local governments offer financial incentives to private firms in hopes of encouraging development, creating jobs, and enhancing the local tax base, which will ultimately improve the community. However, the effectiveness of many of these incentives are questionable. The finance officer should take an active role in the analysis of development incentives and integrate this analysis into more comprehensive financial planning efforts. Overall, finance officers must ensure that any incentive offered creates a positive net impact on the community. At this session you will learn about how finance officers can and should contribute to the analysis of development incentives and play a vital role in economic development programs.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 10:20am to 12:00pm

Local governments face disasters ranging from recurring storms to "once-in-a-generation" natural disasters. Disaster preparedness using tools provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), such as threat hazard identification and risk assessment methodology, can help reduce uncertainty. This session will cover different disaster preparedness strategies, including disaster identification and risk analysis methods, intergovernmental disaster response networks, and financial management strategies. It will also provide cases of how local governments coordinated and planned their disaster response from start to finish with a focus on special considerations for the finance office.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:15pm

If in five years your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system looks like the same system you first installed, you have failed to leverage your technology investment. This session will focus on the period just after the "go-live" and how to provide long-term support for your ERP system. Speakers will address how to resolve any unresolved items from your go-live punch-list and build the internal capacity to grow a system effectively. Attendees will learn what staff positions and skills you need to develop your system, how to best triage issues, and how to determine when enhancements are needed.Every local government strives to engage its employees, but it is often difficult to know what employee engagement truly means for both employees and the organization as a whole. In this session, attendees will explore the many meanings of employee engagement and how to create engagement opportunities for employees. From helping employees become more productive to boosting office morale to emphasizing the mission of your organization, you will come away from this session with new tools to improve your employees' experiences.

Sunday, May 6, 2018 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

Rarely, if ever, do governmental organizations have sole access and discretion in who or what they tax. With continued pressures to do more with less, governments make do with the revenue sources that are most readily accessible, often not taking into consideration how other governments may be drawing from the same "pool." This session will focus on how to collaborate with other governments within the same location to best optimize revenue sources and lessen the burden on the local tax base. Speakers will discuss examples from their organizations and tactics they used to effectively work with other overlapping jurisdictions.

Sunday, May 6, 2018 - 1:30pm to 2:20pm

The need for more civic engagement is largely in opposition with the complex financial information governments need to convey. Visuals are excellent for effectively communicating intricate ideas and data in a way that’s accessible to stakeholders who are not familiar with accounting, financial reporting, budgeting, investing, debt management, pension, and other financial information. In this session attendees will learn how and when to transform data sets into visual graphics, such as charts, bar graphs, scatterplots, heatmaps, infographics, and more. Expert presenters will also explain how to use different tools to enhance your storytelling and increase audience comprehension.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 10:20am to 12:00pm

The exercise of budgeting is ongoing and far-reaching. It impacts every aspect of an organization's operations on a daily, if not hourly basis. Budget monitoring and performance management are key tools to regularly examine an organization's operations to identify any potential shortcomings and to find ways to make early course corrections. This session will include examples and dialogue from several organizations on their monitoring and performance measurement practices and how these relate to GFOA's new and recently updated best practices on these two essential topics.

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 1:30pm to 2:20pm

How do you use your budget process to best align resources and student outcomes? Strong collaboration between the finance and academic teams is a starting point and plays a crucial role in GFOA's Best Practices in School Budgeting for improving your district's budget process. In addition, the budget process framework recommendations include guidelines for better stakeholder engagement, improved goal setting, developing comprehensive strategies to achieve goals, long-term financial planning, and creating a budget document that tells your district’s “story.” This session will include practical examples from districts who are implementing GFOA's best practice recommendations and also highlight resources readily available to any district looking to improve its budget process.

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 2:40pm to 3:55pm

Governments are not immune to economic and business cycles and are often impacted in both the near and longer term with lagging revenues after recovery from a downturn. With the current, continued economic boom, this session will talk about trends in the economy and what governments can do now to help protect themselves from the inevitable economic downturn. Learn more from experts on how you can best analyze the current environment and potential impacts to your organization and how to develop strategies to help ensure financial sustainability for your organization to continue serving the needs of your constituents.

Sunday, May 6, 2018 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

One strategy to address employee engagement and retention is to offer mentorship programs. But what does an effective mentoring program look like in a finance office? Speakers will discuss how they have developed their mentorship programs and their effect on engagement, retention, and overall professional development of employees.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:15pm

Finance officers are often trained on how to generate a return on investment from financial assets, develop process improvements that generate greater efficiencies, and manage infrastructure that provides optimal service over its lifespan. However, many finance officers or managers have not received training in ways to maximize their staff--or "human capital." This session will explore strategies that managers can use to aid the professional development of employees working on a team or in a department.

Sunday, May 6, 2018 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

Cyberattacks on governments are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated, creating a risk that governments can no longer afford to ignore. Cyber insurance can help mitigate the financial risk associated with a cyberattack by covering expenses, such as legal defense costs, computer forensics, and breach notification and remediation. Experienced practitioners and industry experts will explain what cyber insurance does, what’s covered and what isn’t, why governments have problems buying coverage, what to look for in a cyber-insurance carrier.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 3:35pm to 4:50pm

A budget can be simply defined as the financial plan that works toward achieving an organization's goals. Unfortunately, few of us dedicate adequate time and effort to outline these goals. As a result, budget meetings and conversations can often veer towards noble, but unclear objectives or be spent discussing strategies for re-arranging costs with little focus on what will be achieved. In this session attendees will learn how to lay the foundation to engage leaders, elected officials, and the public to keep budget discussions focused on goals and can be used to set the overall direction for budget conversations.

Sunday, May 6, 2018 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is in the midst of research involving whether the framework for going concern needs to be updated in light of many governments experiencing financial difficulty or oversight, but without the legal ability (or desire) to declare bankruptcy. In addition, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has released new auditing standards (SAS-132) updating the attestation and auditing of going concern. Learn about these new projects from the experts.

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 2:40pm to 3:55pm

Open to attendees age 40 and under, this interactive speed networking session is designed for attendees to meet and exchange ideas. Small groups will be given 15 minutes to share thoughts on an issue facing their government or a theme related to GFOA's conference before rotating onto a new group and topic. Bring your business cards!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:15pm

GASB 87 on leases will become effective for periods beginning after December 15, 2019, but if you're thinking this can be placed on the back burner for a while, think again. The new lease accounting is going to require quite a lot of advanced preparation. Speakers will explain the need for governments to do a comprehensive search of contracts, including many that may not even have previously been thought of as leases. The course will cover accounting for contracts that combine use of assets with services, and identify the key contract provisions that will need to be analyzed in order to properly assess each lease's term and the appropriate effective interest rate to distinguish asset value from financing costs. A review of available and developing technology to manage and account for leases will also be included.

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

This session, long a staple at the annual conference, will be joined this year by the GASB Chairman. Speakers will provide a comprehensive overview of the key developments in accounting, auditing, and financial reporting that affect state and local governments. Topics covered will include recently promulgated standards, upcoming implementations and related practice issues, as well as developments related to current GASB projects likely to affect issuers and auditors in the near future.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 8:30am to 10:10am

Emergency response and recovery efforts following a disaster are just the start. Federal assistance to local governments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies may literally be life-saving, but they come with strings attached and can be pulled back if governments do not comply with extensive compliance requirements. In this session an experienced auditor and a disaster-aid recipient government official will share their insights regarding meeting compliance requirements, documentation, and what to expect from independent and federal auditors during their testing of recovery grant expenditures.


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