Preconference Seminars

GFOA’s preconference seminars provide an opportunity for attendees to get in-depth training on topics vitally important to finance officers. Come to New Orleans a day or two early and multiply the benefits you’ll get by signing up for these added training offerings. Preconference sessions will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Please scroll down to view available meals.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Think Quickly But Speak Slowly: Presentation Skills for Finance Officers

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

Terrified of public speaking? Feel confident in your speaking, but want to hone your skills? Not all finance officers are natural public speakers, but at some point all finance officers will need to communicate to internal and external audiences. Whether it is speaking to elected officials on budgetary issues, explaining financial information to constituents, or training staff on internal matters, delivering a good presentation is key to ensuring the information is successfully and accurately received. In this interactive session, attendees will learn practical communication skills for speaking to any size audience and have an opportunity to apply them firsthand as part of planned session exercises.

Infrastructure and Disaster Recovery Efforts in New Orleans

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in August 2005, and to this day it remains one of the most destructive, deadliest, and expensive storms to strike the United States. Along with the heavy cost of life, the storm caused more than $125 billion in damage to the region. While much of the area has recovered fifteen years later, there is still work to be done and residual issues to address. In addition, there are many lessons learned from this experience that finance officers everywhere can benefit from and help prepare their government for disasters that may pose a threat. This session will examine the events before and after Hurricane Katrina from the perspective of a learning opportunity for all governments and provide specific recommendations for planning, response, and recovery.

Overview of Common Investment Instruments and the Related Accounting and Financial Disclosures

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

Governments across the United States, all with slightly different principles, values, and goals, are able to use a variety of investment instruments depending on their investment policy. Finance officers, along with determining the best use of such investments, must also correctly apply the complex financial reporting standards to ensure compliance with generally accepted accounting principles and promote overall transparency. In this session, speakers will provide a comprehensive overview of investment opportunities that are commonly available to local governments* and evaluate each against the standard investment principles of safety, liquidity, and yield.  Speakers will discuss the process for valuing investments for accounting and financial reporting purposes, and the required note disclosures in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

* Note: Not all investment types may be available to all governments based on state statute or investment policy.


Saturday, May 16, 2020

Giving Voice to Values: GFOA’s Code of Ethics in Action

8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

GFOA’s new code of ethics outlines the values that are essential to building trust in our communities, but putting these values into action can sometimes be difficult. In fact, ethical tragedies are often the result of people who sit silently on the sidelines afraid or uncertain of what to do about a transgression. In this session, you will learn a distinctive new approach to these situations called “Giving Voice to Values” by working through real-life scenarios of ethical challenges that have occurred in governments.

Addressing Climate Effects at the Local Level: Where to Spend and How to Pay for it

8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

Climate change is real, but not all changes will be the same. This session will explain how climate change impacts will be felt at a local level and discuss various projected scenarios across the United States and Canada. As we continue to witness changes to sea level, frequency of flooding or drought events, severe weather intensity, and long-term weather patterns, finance officers must understand the implications on local government services. With each scenario, presenters will identify several key risks that governments will face and offer potential mitigation strategies and reactions to consider. In addition, speakers will highlight innovative and creative solutions available today that governments can take advantage of to start reacting on a local level to these global environmental trends.

Establishing Your Brand: Recruiting and Retaining Talent

8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

Recruiting and retaining staff is challenging for all organizations, but for governments, facing the added challenges of dealing with lower salaries, lengthy application processes, lack of true recruiting efforts, and a small pool of qualified individuals with public-sector finance experience, it can be increasingly difficult. In this session, speakers will provide information, examples, and tools for how to effectively recruit and retain staff. Particular focus will be placed on how to write job announcements and differentiate your offering, use creative marketing, and develop strategies to find and attract qualified candidates in addition to the importance of organizational branding to attract staff. Speakers will also discuss how to best onboard new staff and work on building critical components of employee engagement and workforce culture to retain existing employees.

Cultivating Civility in a Polarized World

1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

Increasing political polarization is a defining feature of society in today’s world, and the 2020 election threatens to divide our communities even more. As professional finance officers, how do we navigate unavoidable political situations to maintain objectivity, independence, and trust? As managers, how do we maintain safe, inclusive, civil, and productive work environments? As individuals and team members, how do we work with others who have completely opposite views and beliefs? While it may be possible, it probably is not practical to ban any type of political conversation in the office. In this session, speakers will present a variety of potential scenarios and case studies for discussion and provide practical solutions for addressing these complicated, difficult, and increasingly common situations that any finance officer may find themselves in.

Assessing Risks Related to Cyber Crime

1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. 4 CPE Credits

Every local government in the United States and Canada is a potential target for cyber crime and risks potential disruption of services. Today many governments lack the resources to protect their systems adequately and to react to cyber attacks and a result, this makes all governments more attractive and vulnerable. For example, it is estimated that public sector cyber ransom costs are ten times higher than the private sector due to this exposure. This session will provide an overview of recent cyber-criminal trends and their impact on public-sector organizations. Speakers will present on critical topics for all finance officers to understand, including assessing current risks, developing security policies, how to best enforce security standards, proper budgeting for adequate technology security, what to do if you become a victim, and whether or not to consider paying ransom. Participants will also learn practical tips for implementation of those key “what,” "why," and “how” questions that can be implemented as soon as they get back to the office.


Taking a session on Friday?

An afternoon snack will be available.

Taking a morning session on Saturday?

A continental breakfast will be available in your session room.

Taking an afternoon session on Saturday?

A snack will be available in your session room.

Taking a morning and afternoon session on Saturday?

Enjoy a continental breakfast and afternoon snack in your session room, as well as a grab-and-go lunch.