GFOA’s 108th Annual Conference

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New Program for Modified Cash Basis Reports

  • Learn more about the Certificate of Conformance Program for Small Government Annual Financial Reports
  • Submit an application and be one of the first winners of the new award!
  • Contact us for materials on the new program to distribute at your next local conference

Correction to Story on GASB Pension Implementation Delay

The GFOA previously reported (GFOA website, March 24; GFOA Newsletter, March 27) that on March 24, 2014, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) voted unanimously to turn down calls to delay the implementation of its new pension guidance for employers. That article specifically noted that:

An important factor in the GASB’s decision was the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ position that the pending auditing guidance would apply regardless of the accounting and financial reporting standards used. Thus, a delay in implementing GASB Statement No. 68 would not prevent employers in cost-sharing plans from receiving modified audit opinions on their financial statements.

The GASB itself in its March 24 press release (GASB Declines to Delay Implementation Date of Pension Standards) indicated at the very top of its list of the “key factors” that led to its decision that:


Delaying the new standards would not necessarily address the concern about a modified audit opinion. It appears, based on feedback received, that many governments would face a similar prospect of a modified audit opinion even if governments were to follow the previous pension standards.


The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has assured the GFOA that the assessment of the audit implications of a delay in implementing GASB Statement No. 68 as described in the GFOA article (that is, that the AICPA intended for its new pension guidance to apply to audits of entities following existing GASB pension standards) was not and never has been the position of the AICPA, and should not be attributed to the Institute. The GFOA regrets the error. 


Eugene Robinson will address conference delegates on Monday, May 19, during this year’s opening general session

Pulitzer Prize winner Mr. Eugene Robinson will be the Monday morning keynote speaker at the GFOA’s upcoming annual conference in Minneapolis. Mr. Robinson is a columnist with the Washington Post and is a regular contributor to MSNBC. He will address GFOA delegates with a presentation, Today’s News: Who’s Up, Who’s Down and What’s Really Going On.


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GFOA Executive Board Approves 14 Best Practices

On February 28 the GFOA’s Executive Board approved 14 best practices – four new and ten revised – on topics from managing health-care costs to engaging and managing outside professionals in bond transactions. Additional information about these best practices, including summaries and the full text of each, is available here

Milestones for GFOA’s CAFR, Budget Programs

The GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting program has reached a major milestone – 4,000 submissions. It’s an impressive rate of growth, up from 800 submissions 20 years ago. This achievement is not just a proud achievement for the GFOA, but also an exceptional attainment for the many jurisdictions that demonstrate their commitment to going beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles and preparing comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure.

The City of Ketchikan, Alaska, was No. 4,000, for the fiscal year ending 2012. Ketchikan is a continuing participant; its first submission was for fiscal year end 1971. Since then, the city has received the CAFR award 35 times.

The Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program also hit a recent milestone: 1,400 submissions. That’s up from 200 in 1984. The GFOA congratulates all the jurisdictions that have proven their dedication to preparing budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting.


SEC Issues FAQ Document on Municipal Advisor Rule

The SEC released a FAQ document on January 10, 2014, to provide clarification about the implementation of the Municipal Advisor Rule; the GFOA’s Federal Liaison Center has also updated its issue brief on the rule. Implementation was scheduled to take effect on January 13, but that date has been extended to July 1, per a January 13 notice from the SEC. The SEC Office of Municipal Securities addressed the GFOA’s Committee on Governmental Debt Management on this issue at the committee’s January 30 meeting in Washington, D.C., and is also working with the GFOA to schedule a June webinar to help educate government issuers about the rule’s implementation.  Staff from the SEC’s Office of Municipal Securities also plan to participate in the GFOA’s May 18-21 annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they be available to address government issuer priorities and concerns about implementing the rule.

Facts You Should Know: State and Municipal Bankruptcy, Municipal Bonds, State and Local Pensions

The spotlight on notable cases of municipal fiscal stress has led to many misperceptions about the overall financial condition of state and local governments, particularly in regard to bankruptcy, bonds, and pensions. To address this concern, the national organizations representing the nation’s governors, state legislatures, and state and local officials jointly released the 2014 edition of Facts You Should Know: State and Municipal Bankruptcy, Municipal Bonds, State and Local Pensions. The report details facts about these issues and the degree to which they are having a financial impact on state and local governments. It also provides helpful links to reports documenting the fiscal health of states and localities, as well as the primary drivers of financial distress, where it exists.

GFOA President Tim Firestine Weighs in on New SEC MA Rule

Last week, GFOA President Tim Firestine weighed in on the discussion among municipal market participants about the SEC’s final rule defining the term municipal advisor. In a Bond Buyer op-ed, Firestine said: “The SEC’s final rule aims to set a clear line between advice and the underwriting of bonds. Differentiating these two practices is key to the implementation of the municipal advisor rule and will encourage best practices by issuers and other professionals, resulting in a stronger municipal market.” The piece goes on to discuss the “vocal opposition, primarily from the broker/dealer community, that this rule will stifle the ability to have important conversations and a flow of ideas between underwriters and issuers.” Mr. Firestine continued, “I believe these concerns are exaggerated, and are unhelpful to having the market move forward with finding appropriate ways to adapt to the new rule.” GFOA members can read the op-ed here.

GFOA Provides Advocacy Tools on Marketplace Fairness Act and Municipal Tax Exemption

As Congress returns home to their congressional districts for the month-long August recess, the GFOA and its state and local coalition partners are gearing up for what is expected to be a busy fall session, with federal action on comprehensive tax reform and the Marketplace Fairness Act projected to increase.  GFOA members can help ensure positive outcomes for maintaining the tax exemption on municipal bond interest and enactment of the Marketplace Fairness Act (HR 684) by meeting with their Senators and members of Congress over the month-long August congressional recess.  The GFOA has developed a comprehensive suite of advocacy materials for members to use in communicating with their federal elected leaders on both of these items.   These materials include factsheets, talking points, draft letters, resolutions and op-eds, as well as joint reports and links to the advocacy efforts of the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, U.S. Conference of Mayors and National Governor’s Association.  All of these materials are available on the GFOA’s Federal Government Relations page.

Learn about Enhancements to the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Award

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) announced that it has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the purpose of identifying and promoting best budgeting practices for schools and community colleges. The research project, which is scheduled for completion in February 2015, will develop and implement criteria for GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award program to incentivize school districts and community colleges to integrate resource alignment best practices into their budget processes.


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Pension Guide Book and Funding Guidance for Elected Officials

The GFOA and other leading organizations representing state and local governments and retirement systems, working together as part of a Pension Funding Task Force in Washington, D.C., released their final report, Pension Funding: A Guide for Elected Officials. The guide, which GFOA members are encouraged to share with their elected officials and other decision makers, provides an overview of defined benefit pension plans, including how such plans are funded and the new standards issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.
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