COA Program - Frequently Asked Questions

For instructions for submitting an application to the Certificate Program, click here.
For instructions for requesting an extension to submit an application, click here.
For instructions for retrieving result documents from a previously completed review, click here.

Please note: If you are submitting an application for the first time, you may need to establish an AMS account for your government.

If your government has ever applied before using the AMS or received results through the AMS, your government has an AMS account. If you are not sure if your government has an AMS account, contact the COA Program.

The AMS includes both a Forms page and a Repository. The Forms page is used to submit applications to the Certificate Program, to request extensions, to check the status of a review in process, and to update the individual who is the primary contact for government’s AMS account. The Repository is where result documents are stored for reviews that have been completed. This is where governments can see GFOA’s comments for a review recently completed, and retrieve comments and a certificate from the previous-year submission when applying to the Program in the subsequent year.

To log into the Forms page:
To log into the Repository:

Keep in mind that when logging in to either the Forms page or the Repository, the government’s username will be its member number. The password will be the password created by the government.

Please use a browser other than Internet Explorer when working in the AMS.

The government’s username is its GFOA member number. This number can be found on the Detailed Listing of Comments and on the Summary of Grading from prior results the government has received (where it is identified as the “Member ID”). If you are unable to locate the number, contact the COA Program.

On any login page to the AMS, there is a blue link with the words “Forgot password?” Click this link and enter the username of the government. Keep in mind, the username of a government is the government’s GFOA member ID number. Click the box labelled “Send Recovery Email.” An email with a link to reset the password will be sent to the person who is listed as the primary contact for the account in our AMS. If you don’t know who this person is, contact the COA Program.

There are three common reasons people have trouble resetting the password.

The first is that people are not using the correct username. Remember that the username for a government is the government’s GFOA member number.

The second is that the person requesting the recovery email with the link that allows somebody to reset the password is not registered as the primary contact. When a recovery email is requested, the recovery email will be sent to the person registered as the primary contact. (If you’re not sure who the primary contact is, contact the COA Program.)

A third possibility is that a firewall or other form of security may be blocking the email or diverting the email to a spam folder. The email will come from Please check your spam folder for an email from this address, and ask your IT department to add this email address to your allow list to ensure you receive password reset and other important emails about your COA submission.

If you are able to login to the Forms page of the AMS, click on “Start Process” in the blue banner along the top of the page, and then click the green “Start” button next to “AMS Account Update.” This will allow you to see who the COA Program Contact is and allow you to update the contact, if so desired.

If you’re not able to login to the Forms page, contact the COA Program.

A volunteer reviewer’s username is the volunteer’s personal GFOA number. Your personal number can be found on your GFOA ID card. If you are uncertain what your personal number is, please contact GFOA.

Please see our COA main page and scroll down to find Reviewer Information.

Login to the Forms page of the AMS, click on “Start Process” in the blue banner along the top of the page, and then click the green “Start” button next to “Check COA Status.” Here, you can see the current status of a review and subscribe to status updates. If you subscribe to status updates, you’ll receive an email every time an application moves from one status to the next. Below is a list of statuses you might see:

Eligibility Validation. When we first receive an application, we look to make sure that the application has been filled out correctly and that we have the information and documents that we need. We also look at several items within the annual report to determine if the report is eligible to receive the Certificate. If we need more information or if the report is not eligible to receive the Certificate, we will contact you. Due to the number of applications GFOA receives at certain times of the year, it may be several weeks before an application advances through the Eligibility Validation stage.

Pending Review. After Eligibility Validation, an application is put in a queue to be reviewed. Due to the number of applications GFOA receives, it is not unusual for an application to be in this status for several months.

In Review. After the application moves to the top of the Pending Review queue, it will be assigned to an internal GFOA reviewer. Most reports are reviewed by both an initial and a final reviewer at GFOA.

Final Processing. When all the reviews have been completed, an editor reviews the comments and prepares the final result documents that will be shared with the government.

Complete. The review has been completed and the result documents can be found in the Repository.

We try to complete reviews within six months of receiving applications. GFOA's efforts to deal with COVID-19 and to ensure a successful implementation of the AMS have temporarily lengthened the turnaround time for the Certificate award decisions. Our current turnaround time is approximately nine months, but we are working hard to reduce that time frame back to the normal time of six months. Thank you for your patience as we resolve this temporary backlog.

When the review is completed, an email will be sent to the primary contact of the AMS account with a link for retrieving the result documents.

Anybody who has signed up for status updates will also receive an email indicating that the review has been completed and be able to login to the Repository and retrieve the result documents.

Yes, a government has thirty days from the date of the results notification letter to appeal GFOA’s decision. Please see the “Program policies and procedures” document which can be found among the result documents in your Customer Package in the Repository for more information.

All result documents for reviews that have been processed in the AMS will remain in the Customer Package in the Repository.

Call GFOA directly at 312-977-9700 and asked to be transferred to the Technical Services Center. Staff in the Technical Services Center will try to connect you with one of the reviewers who originally worked on your report.

Call GFOA directly at 312-977-9700 and asked to be transferred to the Technical Services Center or email the COA Program.

Further resources

The manual below is a comprehensive introduction to the Awards Management System. It was provided by the designers of the AMS at Laserfiche.

End User Documentation for Using the Awards Management System

View Manual