Financial Policy Resource Center

Financial policies provide guidelines for financial decision making and set the strategic intent for financial management and are central to a strategic, long-term approach to financial management.  Some of the most powerful arguments in favor of adopting formal written policies include their ability to help governments: 

  • Institutionalize good financial management practices
  • Clarify strategic intent for financial management
  • Define boundries
  • Support good bond ratings
  • Promote long-term strategic thinking
  • Manage risks to financial condition
  • Comply with established public management best practices.


  Best Practices

  • GFOA Best Practice: Adopting Financial Policies - GFOA recommends that governments formally adopt financial policies.  Steps to consider when making effective financial policies include (1) scope, (2) development, (3) design, (4) presentation, and (5) review.

GFOA also has best practices on specific types of policies. Below is a list of current best practices related to financial policies.

Planning and Budgeting Policies: 

Economic Development Policies:

Debt Management Policies: 

  • GFOA Best Practice: Debt Management Policy - GFOA recommends that state and local governments adopt comprehensive written debt management policies. These policies should reflect local, state, and federal laws and regulations. 

Investing Policies: 

Pension and Benefits Administration Policies: 



Example Policies


Sample Policy Portfolios

 Type  Examples
Comprehensive Policy Documents
Short and Long Form of Policy Documents
Individual Policy Documents (including supplemental information)


Financial Policies Book

Financial Policies is a GFOA publication that provides guidance on developing and implementing financial policies. The book takes a new look at traditional policies such as those for general fund reserves, debt, and revenues. It also examines emerging policy issues around economic development, enterprise risk management, and reserves for funds other than the general fund.

This book provides governments with a step-by-step approach to developing and implementing financial policies. The author provides comprehensive coverage of financial policies for a range of administrative functions, including budgeting, capital improvements, debt management, and investments.