Numbers are at the core of a public finance officer’s job, and a big part of that is communicating those numbers to other people. The challenge is that numbers are not a first language for many people in the finance officer’s audience. In fact, the average American has only “basic” number skills (defined as the ability to do simple calculations and interpret simple tables and graphs), according to the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. Even so, there are opportunities for finance officers to communicate numbers better and, in doing so, generate a better understanding of and enthusiasm for savvy financial decision-making.
For a glimpse into the possibilities, consider sports fandom. You have probably met someone who does not have exceptional math skills yet has considerable interest in the statistics for their favorite player or team. They have taken an interest in the numbers because of how the numbers are presented and the context in which they are presented. Though local government finance will likely never garner the same enthusiasm as spectator sports, public finance officers can harness at least some of the same potential.
- Publication date: August 2023
- Author: Shayne Kavanagh