GovFi Prize

GFOA and the Public Finance Journal are thrilled to announce cash awards for answering long-standing public finance questions.

What if there were resources to support, recognize, and reward academic writing in public finance?  There now is such financial resourcing for four specific questions. There is $500 for up to four initial proposals for each of the questions below.  Articles are required to be produced for publication for each $500 start-up funding to be published in a future edition of the Public Finance Journal.  The selected researchers or research teams will be informed in writing, will complete the research as described in proposal, and submit the article for publication to the Public Finance Journal, and agree to all terms to have your article published. 

Question 1

Is the 80-20 Rule Operative for Financial Analysts’ Use of Financial Reports? (Prize Amount: $8K)

The 80-20 rule says that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes. Applied to financial reporting, this could mean that some fraction of the information contained in the financial report satisfies the vast majority of the questions professional analysts (e.g., those who preform analysis as/for bond market participants) have about a local government. GFOA wants to know: what are the most common questions professional analysts have about local governments and what information are they most commonly using from financial reports? We also want to know the extent to which the most commonly used information satisfies the financial analysts total informational needs? Or put another way, what percent of the outcome (financial analysis complete) results from the most commonly used information?

Question 2

What is the Cost of Compliance with GAAP Accounting and Reporting Standards? (Prize Amount: $8K)

GAAP accounting standards often require governments to collect, prepare, and report information that they otherwise would not. This adds a new or marginal cost to finance administration that would otherwise not exist. GFOA wants to know: What is the marginal cost to comply with new reporting standards, including staff time, consulting time (including external auditors and other accounting service providers), software and any other relevant costs? We are interested in total costs, include staff time, software upgrades, and consultant support, after the standard is “live”. We are also interested in seeing data from a random selection of governments or at least reasonably representative of the range of capabilities that local governments have to implement new standards.

Question 3

What Does the Public Really Want to Know about Public Finance? (Prize Amount: $8K)

Financial transparency is important but is often undertaken without a firm understanding of what the public most wants to know about their government’s finances. GFOA wants to know: We want to know what information about public finances would do the most to reduce the public’s uncertainty about the trustworthiness of their local government as stewards of their tax dollars. What do citizens/taxpayers want to know about local government finance? How do they define accountability for the use of their tax dollars?

Question 4

Do Financial Reports Impact Policy Making? (Prize Amount: $8K)

Elected officials need to know about the financial condition of their governments. GFOA wants to know: We want to know what information about public finances gives elected officials the most confidence that they are succeeding in their role of stewards of public finances. What do elected officials want to know about local government finance? How do they define accountability for the use public funds?

The final product for the satisfaction of the $500 start up funds is the journal article for PFJ along with your data as per open research standards suitable for replication. If more than one submission the winner will be determined by the governance committee of the PFJ and be eligible for prize (in this case $8k) minus the number of start-up $500 fund awards given out at proposal stage.  The non-winning articles may also be published in the Public Finance Journal. In fact, GFOA would prefer to publish articles from multiple researchers on the same question.  Social science is hard and answers from research are rarely definitive, so having multiple perspectives on the same question is good.  GFOA may also publish summaries of the articles in its other mediums.


  1. Abstract proposal due: January 22, 2024
  2. Decisions on the abstract: February 12, 2024
  3. Full paper due to the co-editors for initial review: July 15, 2024
  4. If accepted (after completion of editorial review process), the anticipated publication date: September 22, 2023

Submit a GovFi Prize Application