State/Provincial Update - September 23, 2015

Register Today for GFOA's 20th Annual Governmental GAAP Update 

The GFOA’s 20th Annual Governmental GAAP Update will take place on November 5, 2015, with an encore presentation on December 3, 2015, from 1:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern), both days. Click here to read about specific topics to be covered in the program. Four continuing professional education (CPE) credits will be available for each participant. Read more. (PDF)

Sign Up as a Host Viewing Site

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, the 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.

Register early and save!

  • Register by October 2 and take advantage of an early registration fee for the November presentation (or register by November 6 to save on the registration fee for the December encore presentation).
  • Save with group discounts. Make a day of it and build an event around this training as an affordable way to train staff and/or educate clients (attach this Excel group spreadsheet to your registration form). If you have more than 100 people to sign up, contact Barb Mollo for special pricing.

Download the brochure, which includes a registration form (PDF)
Register online (Please note that group discounts cannot be applied to online registrations.)

We hope you’re able to participate. If you have any questions, contact the GFOA.

Save the Date for GFOA’s 110th Annual Conference

The GFOA’s 110th Annual Conference will take place May 22−25, 2016, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
. If you have not yet done so, please post the dates to your organization’s website and let your members know that all U.S. citizens are required to have a current passport to enter Toronto. Click here for information on how to easily apply for one today. The GFOA is also accepting topic and speaker suggestions for the conference. Please submit any suggestions you have using this online form.

All GFOA state and provincial representatives and presidents will be able to take advantage of the early government registration fee through the span of the conference. Registration for the conference and information about first-time attendee scholarships will be posted to the GFOA’s website in late fall.

If you have any questions about the conference, contact the GFOA.

Look for GFOA Training in Your Area

This training brochure provides a list of courses taking place through December 2015. Go to GFOA’s training schedule page for course descriptions and speaker listings, to register, and to view future listings. GFOA’s training courses provide a great opportunity for your members to earn additional CPE credits at an affordable cost and to save with group discounts.

If you have any questions on the training, contact the GFOA.

What is the Process for a Health Insurance Dependent Eligibility Audit?

Dependent eligibility audits (DEAs) have four primary phases that include planning the project, collecting and verifying information, updating the health-care plan, and handling appeals. 

  1. Make a Plan.

    Organizations often define dependents differently in their health-care plans, so the planning phase tends to center on clearly establishing the definition of an eligible dependent. It also includes communicating this definition to employees. The communication in this step is critical, as it will directly affect how employees respond in the verification phase. Providing a clear explanation of the purpose and motivation for the audit can often improve employees’ perception of the project, which can in turn affect participation and curb discontent. Employees also need to be made aware that failing to participate could result in the loss of benefits for their dependents. To communicate this information, organizations often reach out to employees in a number of ways, including internal emails, centralized information posters, and word of mouth (via managers) to announce the impending audit, and to prepare employees for additional communications. A diversified communication strategy is necessary to ensure a high response rate from employees. For example, all 17 local governments in a sample used diversified communication strategies, and all had a response rate from employees of 95 percent or greater.

  2. Verify Eligibility.

    The verification phase involves the physical or electronic collection of identification documents ranging from marriage and birth certificates to a spouse’s proof of residence. Some organizations are implementing point-of-enrollment options that collect additional detailed information when new employees are initially enrolled in a plan. In the verification phase, obtaining a high employee response rate is vital. The ideal is a 100 percent response rate within the allotted timeframe (often 30 to 45 days). But this is rarely the reality. An initial response rate of 95 percent or more is generally considered successful. Employees who do not respond often lack the appropriate documentation, or are in the process of assembling their documentation. As one might imagine, supplying birth certificates, marriage certificates, and proof-of-residency documents can be a time-consuming process. Here, third-party vendors can often expedite an audit by providing additional resources to obtain these documents. An organization’s human resources department will also play a role in this phase by gently reminding non-responders of the need to submit documentation, and the gravity of not doing so. As organizations work through the verification phase, there are typically employees who will acknowledge that a dependent does not meet the criteria outlined in the plan. This is encouraged – again, keep in mind that the enrollment of ineligible dependents often results from a lack of information, a lack of clarity, or a lack of communication on the part of the employer.

  3. Update the Health-Care Plan.

    Most DEAs result in the disenrollment of some ineligible dependents. This step is often postponed, taking place after an unpublished grace period to avoid erroneous disenrollments. An organization’s human resources department often completes the removal of ineligible dependents from a health-care plan, allowing the employer to exercise discretion in special circumstances. This method can provide jurisdictions with the flexibility they need to allow employees time to secure other coverage for their dependents.

  4. Handle Appeals and Reinstatements.

    Inevitably, some employees will want to appeal the audit findings. This is typically built into the audit process and can involve the human resource department, a third-party auditor, or both. Roughly 1.5 percent of dependents who were believed to be ineligible are subsequently reinstated.  Reinstatements are often the result of missing documents being located and submitted by employees. Another significant portion of reinstatements occur because employees who previously had not complied with the audit finally submit their documents, often after realizing the gravity of non-compliance. A more formal appeals process can also take place after the audit has been completed, with the employee appealing directly to the health-care provider. 

For more information, contact Mark Mack, a consultant in GFOA’s Research and Consulting Center in Chicago.

Certified Public Finance Officers (CPFO)

The CPFO Program is a broad educational self-study program designed to verify knowledge in the disciplines of government finance. To earn the CPFO designation, candidates must pass a series of five examinations covering the major disciplines of public finance. There are now 604 individuals who have received the CPFO designation.

Congratulations to the following individuals who recently achieved a CPFO designation:

  • Jennifer Cooperman, Treasurer, Portland, Oregon
  • John Lege, Finance Director, Sarasota, Florida
  • Anthony Madeira, Deputy Comptroller, Norwich, Connecticut
  • Vincent Tenaglia, Assistant City Manager, Madeira Beach, Florida

The next CPFO exams will be available in the fall at locations across the United States. Click here for more information about the exams and the Certification Program.

Download Brochure (PDF)

Check out GFOA’s Latest Budget Awards Program Winners

Attached is a list of governments in your state that earned the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award in August 2015. Budgets that are initial winners of this award are identified by the phrase “FIRST-TIME WINNER.”

The 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.

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. 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 Kate Southard.

Washington Update

Please find attached the latest Washington Update prepared by our Federal Liaison Center in Washington, DC. More information may also be found on the Federal Government Relations section of GFOA’s website.