Happy Holidays and wishing you all the best this holiday season and in the New Year!
Don’t miss GFOA’s 2017 annual conference!
Registration for GFOA’s 111th annual conference, May 21─24, 2017, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver has been open a little over a month and the early attendance numbers look good indicating that this is going to be a big show! We would like to share the following information with you:
- A special discounted registration fee of $380 is available for GFOA’s state and provincial representatives and presidents. To receive the discount, submit the conference registration form and write “State/Provincial GFOA President or Representative” on the form.
- Fifty first-time annual conference attendee scholarships in the amount of the full-conference registration fee are available per state or province for national GFOA government members who have never attended a conference. Click here to view a list of how many scholarships have been awarded per state and province (current as of 12/8/16). Please note that we have not yet received applications from any of the provinces and that all scholarships available for the State of Colorado have already been awarded. For more details about the scholarship and to receive an application, e-mail First Annual Conference.
- Hotel rooms for the conference can be reserved through GFOA’s official housing company, Experient. Click here to reserve your housing online or to download the hotel reservation form to e-mail, fax, or mail to Experient.
- GFOA’s state and provincial representatives and presidents meeting will take place on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the Colorado Convention Center (time and room number TBA). An agenda will be distributed before the meeting date.
If you have any questions about the conference, contact GFOA Conference.
Sign up for the encore presentation of GFOA’s First Annual Better Budgeting web-stream event on January 12
Register for the encore presentation of GFOA’s First Annual Better Budgeting web-stream event on January 12, 2017, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern). The program is designed to equip those on the front lines of local budgeting to do an even better job meeting the many practical challenges they must face from day to day and from year to year. Take advantage of group discounts. Earn 2 CPE credits with your participation. Click here for details and to register today.
If you have any questions about the training, contact GFOA.
Host your members to view the training program together and save with group discounts!
There are no direct costs to your organization for hosting a viewing site. Out-of-pocket expenses, such as facility and/or equipment rental or food/refreshments will not be reimbursed, however. To help offset these costs, GFOA offers a revenue sharing program, through which organizations will earn a percentage of their site’s net revenue based on the total number of paid participants. The program is open to state associations and government entities, but is not open to private-sector organizations. To sign up as a host viewing site, contact Barb Mollo.
Thank you for your support of the GAAP Update
More than 5,600 people participated in the November and December presentations of the 21st Annual Governmental GAAP Update web-streaming event. We want to especially thank the associations that hosted groups to watch the training together and the state presidents and representatives that encouraged their members to participate.
We have released a recording of the November 3, 2016, presentation.* Take advantage of the recording to refresh your memory of the material. If you were unable to participate in the original program, the recording is a great way to catch up and is ideal for in-house training. Download your copy today! Order form / Order online
Save the date: GFOA’s 22nd Annual Governmental GAAP Update will take place November 2, 2017, with an encore presentation on December 7, 2017, both at 1:00−5:00 p.m. (Eastern). Watch GFOA’s website for registration to open.
*Please note that CPE credits are not awarded for watching the recorded program.
Plan your 2017 training now
GFOA’s January−March 2017 CPE Guide covers upcoming group-live and Internet-based courses. Take advantage of earning CPE credits at an affordable cost and save with GFOA member and group discounts. Visit GFOA’s training schedule page for course information, speaker listings, and to register. If you have any questions about the training, contact GFOA.
Certified Public Finance Officers (CPFO) Program testing this spring
The CPFO Program of GFOA is a broad educational self-study program designed to verify knowledge in the disciplines of government finance. Attaining certification is a mark of excellence in government finance. To earn the CPFO designation, candidates must pass a series of five examinations covering the major disciplines of public finance.
Congratulations to the following individuals who recently achieved a CPFO designation:
- Nadine Alletto, Director of Finance, Village of Woodridge, Illinois
- Marne Anderson, Treasury Supervisor, Salem, Oregon
- Jennifer Cuellar-Smith, Treasurer & Finance Director, Columbia County, Oregon
- Scott Gully, Finance Director/Tax Commissioner, Village of Indian Hill, Ohio
- Karen Jester, Finance Director, South Correctional Entity, Washington
- Kathleen Streissguth, Finance Manager, Clark County Fire & Rescue, Washington
The CPFO exams will be available this spring at locations across the U.S. The full spring schedule will be posted early next year. To date, there are 670 individuals who have achieved the CPFO designation. Click here for a listing of all active CPFOs that is searchable by state. If you have any questions about the CPFO Program, visit the CPFO webpage or contact Jim Phillips, Senior Program Manager.
GFOA Awards Program Update
GFOA encourages and recognizes excellence in financial reporting, budgeting, and financial management by granting awards to those governments that meet program standards. Below is the latest Program update:
- Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program)
GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program) in 1945 to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. More than 4,200 governments, participate in the program each year, including all types (general purpose and special purpose) and sizes.
Once the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) is prepared, governments submit it to GFOA along with a completed application. The normal submission deadline is six months following a government’s fiscal year end.
The due date to submit the June 30, 2016, fiscal-year ended reports to the CAFR Program is December 31, 2016. Extensions are available if you are not able to meet the submission deadline. You can request an extension by e-mailing CAFRprogram@gfoa.org
Click here if you are interested in participating in the CAFR Program or serving as a reviewer.
- GFOA’s New School Budgeting Program Continues to Grow
GFOA announced the members of the second wave of its Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting. The Alliance is composed of 36 school districts working with GFOA to implement Best Practices in School Budgeting. Alliance members include districts from 18 states across the U.S. serving anywhere from several hundred students to over one hundred thousand students.
Alliance members include:
These districts are joining 35 districts from the initial Alliance that kicked off in September 2015. GFOA is excited to support the ongoing efforts of the now 70 plus districts across the U.S. implementing and improving their budget processes to help support delivery of the highest quality instruction possible to their students.
The Best Practices in School Budgeting outline a budget process that centers on aligning resources with areas of greatest impact on student achievement. Alliance members will be working on implementing the best practices over the next year with support from GFOA in the form of collaborative meetings, eLearnings, and other supports. GFOA will begin recruiting members for the next wave of the Alliance in early 2017.
For more information about joining the Alliance, Best Practices in School Budgeting, or any other information regarding the project, please see go to GFOA’s website - http://gfoa.org/pk-12-budget.
- GFOA’s Latest Budget Awards Program Winners
Click here to view a list of governments in your state that earned GFOA’s Budget Award in October 2016 and here to view the list of winners for November 2016. Entities that are receiving the Budget Award for the first time are identified by the phrase “FIRST-TIME WINNER.” GFOA encourages you to contact each of the first-time award winners and to offer to arrange a formal presentation of the award. If you have any questions regarding the award winners, please contact Kathie Schultz, Senior Program Associate, GFOA Technical Services Center.
- Popular Annual Financial Reporting (PAFR) Award Program First-Time Winners
GFOA’s Popular Annual Financial Reporting (PAFR) Program recognizes individual governments that successfully produce high quality annual reports that are specifically designed to be easily accessible and understandable to the general public and other interested parties.
Congratulations to the following governments for achieving the PAFR Award for the first time:
- City of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
- Town of Parker, Colorado
- City of Aurora, Illinois
- City of South Bend, Indiana
- St. Louis County, Minnesota
- City of Wentzville, Missouri
- Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Ohio
- Municipality of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania
GFOA Research and Consulting Center Update: What Drives Rising Health-Care Costs? Part 3
Government leaders across the United States are concerned with rising health-care costs—but what are the root causes of those large and persistent annual increases that we all have learned to take for granted? Understanding those forces will inform the strategies your organization needs to contain the cost of employer-provided health benefits.
High Administrative Costs
Administrative costs include spending by public and private health insurers that are not actual payments to health-care providers, including costs incurred by other system participants such as providers, employees, and consumers working with insurers. High administrative costs have often been cited as a contributor to health-care cost inflation; in a 2014 University of Tennessee survey, nearly 30 percent of local governments cited administrative cost as a major driver. This is due, at least in part, to the highly complex nature of private health insurance in the United States (e.g., state-by-state limitations on where health insurance can be purchased).
The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made significant strides in containing administrative costs, primarily by limiting insurance company profit margins. Still, self-insurance—whereby the employer assumes the financial risk for providing the health-care plan, basically paying for each claim instead of paying a fixed premium to an insurer—can further increase savings in this area by completely eliminating the profit margin component. In self-insured plans, any payments employees make toward their coverage go through the employer’s payroll department. According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, the percentage of private-sector workers in self-insured plans jumped from 40.9 percent in 1998 to 58.5 percent in 2011. As most self-insured employers have more than 50 workers (largely because of the cash flow required to meet this obligation), the practice seems to offer promise for larger government jurisdictions.
Service Provider Consolidation
Consolidation of service providers also increases health-care costs. Hospitals are acquiring physician practices and consolidating with other hospitals under a single network with increased regularity. According to a 2015 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the number of physician practices owned directly by hospitals nearly doubled between 2007 and 2013, growing from 96,000 to 182,000 in just six years.
Hospitals are also combining with other hospitals in some geographical areas to create monopoly hospital networks, a change that is being found to increase health-care costs for consumers. Prices for health services in markets with fewer than four hospitals were found to be 15 percent greater than services in areas with four or more competitors. Similar, although less extreme, price impacts were seen in areas with only two or three options.
This effect should not come as a surprise; as hospitals gain market power over a given geographical area, the ability of that hospital network to dictate prices grows. The Health Care Cost Institute conducted research with 88 million Americans covered by three of the five largest U.S. insurance companies and found that hospitals consistently negotiate higher prices when they face less competition.
The impact of decreased competition on price was further illustrated by the Federal Trade Commission’s November 2015 intervention blocking what they called anticompetitive hospital mergers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and West Virginia. The director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition didn't mince words when she said that one proposed merger would “eliminate competition…resulting in higher prices and diminished quality.”
The larger the service provider network, the stronger their negotiating position with health insurance companies, and the increased insurer costs are being passed along to patients. One lesson that can likely be drawn from this challenge is that volume matters, particularly in price negotiations. One way to address this issue, then, might be for local governments to purchase health care cooperatively to increase relative buying power. Many governments are already self-insured; perhaps growing the size of these insurance pools could offer additional leverage with monopoly hospital networks. More aggressive price negotiations with insurance companies and hospitals could also be considered.
Despite reductions in percentage points by which health-care costs have grown in recent years, health care in the United States is expensive and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. This makes any steps a local government can take to mitigate cost critical to the long-term financial sustainability of the organization. The good news is that solutions to create significant and sustainable cost reductions exist, and local governments are likely to be able to find an approach suited to their individual needs.
If you have any questions, please contact Mark Mack, a consultant in GFOA’s Research and Consulting Center.
It’s that time of year again
We would like to make sure that our records are up-to-date. Please review the State/Provincial Officer Directory we have on file and let us know if you have any changes. This information can be e-mailed to Kate Southard.
Do you have an upcoming annual conference?
If so, please fill out the “GFOA Promotional Items” form, checking off any materials you are interested in receiving for your upcoming annual conference. The form is interactive, so you can type and save your changes directly to the document. Submit the completed form at least two months before your event to Kate Southard. Please note: raffle items are limited to annual conferences.
If your state or provincial association has any new educational or mentor programs to promote or events at your annual conference to connect fellow finance officers and advance the profession, we will share the information in this monthly memorandum. Please send a brief description of your program to Natalie Laudadio.