The Research and Consulting Center (RCC) is the management analysis and consulting arm of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The RCC is nationally recognized for its comprehensive analytical and advisory services, as well as for specialized research on state and local government finance. Since beginning operations in 1977, the RCC has provided advisory services to hundreds of local, county, and state governments; public utilities; elementary and secondary education systems; and transit authorities.
Together with its practitioner-focused, highly skilled staff and unparalleled access to the profession of public management, GFOA leverages its member network, ongoing research initiatives and lessons learned from our past consulting engagements to each new project. As a not-for-profit membership association, our mission-driven orientation means that we place your government’s success above all else.
GFOA offers consulting services to help governments solve complex problems. Listed below are the major focus areas of our practice.
Technology Advisory Services:
GFOA’s technology consulting practice was formed in 1998 to respond to GFOA members’ need for objective, independent guidance on procurement and implementation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in advance of Y2K. As a non-profit membership organization, we have no affiliation with any software or hardware vendors, and serve as a completely independent agent for the governments we work with.
Over the past 15 years, GFOA’s technology consulting practice has grown to become the market leader in assisting local governments through the process of assessing current systems, understanding the vendor marketplace, facilitating procurement of new systems, and providing detailed analysis and contract negotiation assistance to protect the best interests of governments with the purpose of reducing implementation risk. In that time, we have assisted approximately 350 cities, counties, school districts, and special district governments with system selection, contract negotiation, and implementation readiness for ERP and other administrative systems.
Lean Process Improvement
GFOA research has identified numerous Lean tools that can be applied to the public sector and provides both training and consulting around these tools and techniques. GFOA’s approach to Lean is to both facilitate Lean events and develop the internal capacity within the organization to sustain the effort.
Budgeting for Outcomes / Budget Process Improvement
GFOA conducts regular research into budgeting best practices and leverages that knowledge to help governments both assess the current budget process and provide recommendations for improvement. GFOA has been heavily involved with numerous projects and initiatives that are relied upon by public sector practitioners across the United States and Canada for best practice guidance. In 1998, GFOA led efforts with seven other professional associations to develop the National Advisory Council on State and Local Government Budgeting (NACSLB). In addition, GFOA recently led efforts of the National Performance Management Advisory Commission that produced a report identifying common principles of performance management which included recommendations for how to apply it to budgeting.
GFOA also provides implementation assistance with budgeting for outcomes (BFO). BFO is a performance budgeting process that is based on identifying priorities, articulating the results that citizens want government to provide, and then developing and funding strategies to provide those results. Proposed strategies are prioritized and ranked within each major high level priority. Proposals are also then funded according to their ranking until funding is exhausted. Over the past 10 years, many governments have turned to BFO as a way of closing large budget deficits and creating sustainable budgets that position the government to deliver demanded and expected services. GFOA services to assist governments with BFO include planning, training, coaching, meeting facilitation, and other advisory services.
Performance management in the public sector is an ongoing, systematic approach to improving results through evidence-based decision making, continuous organizational learning, and a focus on accountability for performance. Typically to be effective, performance management must be integrated into all aspects of an organization’s management and policy-making processes.
Our approach to performance management is based on our ongoing research efforts to identify best practices and learn from past experiences in the public sector to develop a system that provides relevant data to decision makers to be effective. When this occurs, performance management is a powerful tool to help the organization meet established targets, become more responsible to changing conditions and priorities, and communicate more effectively to be more transparent and accountable. GFOA consulting services for performance management include:
- Overall system planning
- Goal definition
- Measure development
- Long-Term Financial Planning
Faced with downward pressures on tax revenues, increasing expenditures, shifting demographics, as well as a host of other complex challenges, local government needs a new approach to planning. The traditional locus of governmental planning, the annual budget, is ill suited to address such challenges due to its inherent tactical and short-term nature. This makes long-term financial planning an indispensable complement to traditional budgeting and an invaluable piece of a government’s overall planning framework. It provides a long-term and comprehensive financial perspective that is not available through other governmental planning processes.
Local governments across the country want their accounting function to meet user needs, provide the support necessary to achieve strategic goals, and assure taxpayers that appropriate financial stewardship is being exercised. Assessment criteria used by the GFOA are based on best practices in local government financial management. In addition to these criteria, GFOA also reviews a “checklist” of factors related to staffing, technology, and the business processes used in that department.