- Accounting, auditing, and financial reporting
- Budgeting and financial planning
- Capital finance and debt administration
- Economic development and capital planning
- E-Government and technology
- Management and service delivery
- Pensions and benefits
- Treasury and investment management
Eight criteria are examined when considering an application for the award: local significance and value, technical significance, transferability, documentation, the cost/benefit analysis, efficiency, originality, and durability. Membership in the GFOA is not required to apply for an award; however, nonmembers and students must be sponsored by an active GFOA member.
Please read the FAQs for complete information about the Awards for Excellence program. If you have additional questions, send an e-mail to Awards for Excellence.
The 2012 Awards for Excellence are listed below. Applications for the 2013 Awards for Excellence in Government Finance program will be available in the fall.
2012 Awards for Excellence Winners (News Release)
Anoka County, MinnesotaVideo Brings the Budgeting Process to Life for Citizens
Category: Budgeting and Financial Planning
The nuances of the budget can be difficult for citizens for understand, but Anoka County, Minnesota, found that an exceptional video is the perfect way to reach the public. Of course, Anoka County is not the first jurisdiction to produce a video that attempts to break down a complicated process, but this effort demonstrates the power the medium can have to bring a concept to life. Clear and concise information helps citizens understand how the budget is developed and how it relates to the property taxes they pay. The presentation also provides a “what you get for your money” report of how much each component of the tax levy costs per household. Answering this common question via the county’s website saves citizens time and effort, and it also saves staff time while delivering an accurate and consistent message. Feedback has been positive; one citizen said, “I finally understand how the budget works in government,” and employees have said watching the video makes them proud to work for Anoka County.
Contact: Vera Schmidt, Budget Planning and Project Analyst, 2100 3rd Ave., Anoka, MN 55303 (763-323-5363,
)City of Austin, Texas
State-of-the-Art Transparency through Austin Finance Online
Category: eGovernment and Technology
The City of Austin, Texas, has a large population that is highly engaged in government activities and wants easy access to city information. In addition, many citizens are “IT savvy” and expect the city to be at the forefront of technological achievement. Austin therefore saw a need for an integrated financial portal that would give citizens and staff access to powerful and interactive tools that would provide both summary and detailed information about the city’s financial operations. The application the city developed – Austin Finance Online – provides simplified access to questions that might otherwise require access to the financial system, and it does so through an extremely intuitive interface. The portal also consolidates vendor registration, solicitation, and reporting for an unprecedented level of access to information for city prime and sub-contractors. And Austin Finance Online is a “living” product, so additional enhancements and new features are being assessed constantly.
Contact: Greg Canally, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, P. O. Box 1088, Austin, Texas 78767-8845 (512-974-2609,
)Village of Bensenville, IllinoisSharing Tools and Resources Leads to Better ServiceCategory: eGovernment and Technology
Business intelligence gets a whole new meaning with the Village of Bensenville’s dashboard, which provides information not only to the city but also to its partners. Unlike other organizations, Bensenville shares tools and resources with business partners to better serve the entire community. Rather than providing an application-specific dashboard that requires the user to seek out information, Bensenville’s system spans multiple applications and types of data. Once the village implemented the system throughout all departments to track performance and business processes, providing real-time information via the Internet, it expanded the project to include private-sector and intergovernmental partners, improving transparency, collaboration, communication, and performance. Bensenville cut through the bureaucracy that often keeps information in silos, giving its private business partners access to the same information that village staff has, resulting in better service and one-stop service for the citizens.
Contact: Timothy J. Sloth, CPA, Director of Finance, 12 S. Center Street, Bensenville IL 60106 (630-350-3397,
)Harris County, Texas
A Unique Approach: Enhancing and Streamlining Reporting and Analysis in Harris County
Category: eGovernment and Technology
The Harris County Auditor’s Office has come up with a faster, simpler way to produce its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) while publishing the underlying financial information more quickly. The county’s user-friendly business intelligence software system provides users with access to large amounts of data for timelier reporting to the internal and external customers. This unique, intuitive approach automates and streamlines the county’s CAFR, associated audit schedules, and monthly reporting so the county can submit its CAFR to the Electronic Municipal Market Access of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board more quickly, improving the process of issuing debt. The model requires minimal technical training and has provided more cost-effective, accurate, and efficient annual and interim reporting. Harris County plans to start using the technology for additional ad-hoc reporting and other analytic and business needs.
Contact: Barbara J. Schott, CPA, Harris County Auditor, 1001 Preston, Houston, TX 77002 (713-755-6505,
)Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Engaging Stakeholders through Accountable Strategic Management
Category: Management and Service Delivery
The program put together by Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, is innovative in the way it has linked performance data with accountability to the community. This comprehensive dashboard provides unsurpassed levels of financial, performance, and budget data to customers and stakeholders. Department leaders get a clearer understanding of how their actions contribute to the overall success of the government and the community. A scorecard identifies long-term organizational goals, and 41 specific measures evaluate performance. One set of measures evaluates the county’s management of financial resources, gauging the administrative oversight of departmental budgets. Results are linked to the corresponding department director’s annual performance review, adding another layer of relevance and accountability. Mecklenburg’s management system has helped the county tear down barriers and involve citizens in county management.
Contact: Blake Hart, Enterprise Management Analyst, 600 E. Fourth St., 11th Floor, Charlotte, NC 28202 (704-336-2538,
)City of Irving, Texas
Irving: The Leaner City
Category: Management and Service Delivery
The private sector has made great use of Lean Six Sigma to systematically evaluate and analyze process capability and reduce waste, but few governments have adopted it – and none so extensively, and to such effect – as the City of Irving, Texas, where results touch all departments and levels in the organization. Improvements include a 79 percent reduction in defects in the accounts payable process, along with 430 hours of increased productivity per year. In animal services, the city saved 50-66 percent by decreasing shelter processing time, saving 1,120 hours annually, and decreasing field officer time by 50-66 percent, saving 2,330 hours annually. The number of warehouse inventory steps was reduced to 30 from 64, with productivity savings of 780 hours annually. Overall construction time on development projects was decreased by 28 percent. And the list goes on and on. Making processes efficient and effective has saved Irving a total of $38 million in costs and cost avoidance and gained it more than 30,000 hours in productivity.
Contact: Max S. Duplant, Chief Financial Officer, 825 W. Irving Blvd., Irving, Texas 75060 (972-721-4615,
)City of Atlanta, Georgia, Department of Finance
Atlanta’s Pension Plan Reform: A Path to Sustainability
Category: Pensions and Benefits
There is nothing unusual about a jurisdiction making pension changes, but the approach – and timeframe – taken by the City of Atlanta, Georgia, is truly impressive. The sweeping changes the city adopted in less than 18 months provide a clear path to sustainability, reducing Atlanta’s pension obligation while providing a fair and sustainable retirement benefit to employees. At the beginning of the process, the city’s defined benefit plans were under severe and increasing financial strain at a funded level of 53 percent, with an annual cost of about 20 percent of the general fund budget. That’s a $1.5 billion unfunded liability, with an annual cost of approximately $70 million per year. Atlanta’s pension plan reform will eliminate the city’s unfunded liability over 30 years, saving approximately $277 million over the next 10 years and approximately $506 million over the amortization period. This project, which involved 6,400 active employees, dozens of workshops, three pension plans, several unions, and 17 elected officials, was accomplished with unanimous consent.
Contact: Gwendolyn A. Smith, Treasurer, and J. Anthony “Jim” Beard, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Finance, 68 Mitchell St SW, 13th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30303 (404-330-6769,
)Public Employees’ Retirement Association of Colorado
Colorado PERA Improves Its Defined Contribution Program on a Grand Scale
Category: Pensions and Benefits
The statewide Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) consolidated the record keeping and investment management of two defined contribution plans and one deferred compensation plan, achieving process efficiencies and lowering costs. The scale of this project was huge, but PERA saw the opportunity to put the current best practices into effect and implement them for all aspects of its 401(k), 457, and defined contribution plans at the same time, ultimately saving money while also decreasing the number of changes participants will experience over the long term. The resulting program provided an entirely new investment line-up offering. The investment choices, called PERAdvantage funds, were carefully crafted to combine the best managers and strategies, representing a diverse array of asset classes. Ultimately, PERA moved $2.18 billion in assets from the legacy investment options to the new funds. The design promotes the crucial concept of asset allocation in retirement investing and makes allocation decisions easier for participants.
Contact: Karl Greve, Chief Financial Officer, Public Employees’ Retirement Association of Colorado, 1301 Pennsylvania St., Denver, CO 80203 (303-837-6218,