Budgeting and Forecasting

Fear City: What the 1970s NYC Fiscal Crisis Can Teach Us Today


September 2, 2020

3 p.m.-4 p.m. ET

  • Field of Study: Finance
  • Credits: 1
  • Prerequisite: None
  • Status: This event has availability.

As local governments face massive revenue shortfalls and uncertain federal aid as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, finance officers are faced with difficult decisions. The discussion will begin with how New York City’s fiscal crisis occurred and what the City did to address it before diving into the similarities and differences with the present Covid-induced fiscal crisis. To fully understand the crises in New York City and now, one cannot focus solely on the technical elements of the budgeting process, but also the political dimension. Politics, hardly the favorite part of any finance officer’s job, was one of the most important elements in New York City’s case, and is proving to be so again today, at the local, state, and federal levels.

Additionally, new citizen demands on the public sector. Questions must be asked whether there are things people in government can do to challenge parts of the budgeting paradigm. How can government cope and handle increasing demands by citizens to be engaged in the budgeting process and allocation of resources not only effectively and efficiently, but also equitably? One such call is for a greater focus on including community-identified priorities and equity into the budgeting process, in contrast to traditional incremental budgeting and across the board cuts (when in fiscal crisis).

NOTE: This is an event sponsored by GFOA’s Urban Forum. GFOA's Urban Forum provides an opportunity for members of large governments to network and exchange information on topics unique to the demands of managing their large and complex entities. To register for the Urban Forum please visit https://www.gfoa.org/urban-forum. To register for this event, please click the link below.


  • GFOA Members: Free
  • Non-members: $50, to be billed after the offering

Capacity is limited to 1,000 participants.

Who Will Benefit: finance officers, budget directors, and others from urban governments

Learning Objectives:
  • Understand how New York City navigated a complex fiscal crisis and politics of austerity in the 1970s, which can help guide finance officers through today’s crisis.
  • Understand the political dimensions inherent to budgeting, especially during an unparalleled fiscal crisis.
  • Discuss new approaches to the conventional budgeting process