Capital Planning and the GFOA Financial Foundations Framework

Shayne C. Kavanagh
Katie Ludwig

The capital infrastructure built and maintained by local government is essential for a thriving community. However, the deficiencies in our communities’ infrastructure are well documented. A big part of the challenge is deciding how to allocate a limited budget between competing projects and interests. Usually, these competing interests seek to gain as much as possible from the budget for themselves. When everyone does this, the budget becomes overburdened, and the financial foundation of local government becomes compromised.

Over the past few years, GFOA has been developing a new approach to financial decision-making called Financial Foundations for Thriving Communities. It is based on a Nobel Prize- winning body of research and extensive case study work with local governments of different sizes and types. The Financial Foundations Framework seeks to solve the challenges inherent in managing the shared financial resource that is the public budget. In this article, we will examine the capital planning practices of Wake County, North Carolina, and how they align with what GFOA research has found to be some of the keys to a strong financial foundation.