CPFO Program Changes

The GFOA is pleased to announce that over the next two years, our Certified Public Finance Officer (CPFO) Program will be undergoing changes designed to make the program more accessible. The new program will attract more candidates, provide better opportunities for current and future CPFOs to engage with GFOA, and serve the public-finance profession. The relaunched program will more effectively communicate the value of a CPFO to those outside GFOA and the public finance industry.

Highlights of the program changes include:

  • Eligibility. New criteria will allow GFOA members not currently in a government position to participate 
  • Testing. More targeted exams with fewer questions; provide opportunities for exam preparation in addition to self-study
  • Topics. Topic areas focus on knowledge and skills essential for current professional public finance environment
  • Continuing Education. Additional options for meeting continuing education requirements

As a result of these planned changes, we encourage those interested in beginning the certification process to wait until the new program is announced in June 2020. Any current candidate (or new candidate) will be able to continue taking current exams and progressing toward the designation under the current program procedures until the end of 2020.

  • Why is GFOA revamping the program?

After careful evaluation of the current program, including interviews with many GFOA members and CPFO designees, we have determined that the program should be better integrated with other GFOA offerings. Additionally, the program should be expanded to provide a more enriching environment for current CPFO designees, and better communicate the value of a CPFO to others in the public sector.

  • Why is GFOA changing the program now?

While many facets of public finance have changed over the past 20 years, the CPFO program has not undergone a significant update since its inception 20 years ago.

  • When will the final program be announced?

More details of the CPFO program will be announced at the GFOA’s annual conference in New Orleans in May of 2020. New components of the program will be announced and rolled out over the next 18 months.

  • How Does This Impact Current CPFO Designees?

For current CPFO, no changes to the program will impact their status as a CPFO. If requirements for obtaining the CPFO change in the future, you will not need to re-test.
We are looking to allow for additional and more varied options to meet and report ongoing continuing education requirements, which will help current and future CPFO designees.

  • How Does this impact CPFO candidates currently in the program?

Anyone currently enrolled in the program will be able to continue taking exams under the current format until December 31, 2020. Exams will remain available online or at testing locations listed on the GFOA website through that date. Candidates who have already passed an exam in the program's current exam format will receive credit for passing any similar exams under the new format. As GFOA revises and replaces the current exams, the new exams will need to be taken once they are available. Those exams will be shorter in length. Any CPFO candidate who passes all five current exams by December 31, 2020, will receive the CPFO designation under the current program criteria. After January 1, 2021, new program criteria will apply.

  • How does this impact individuals who are interested in first becoming CPFOs?

If you have not yet applied to the program, and are interested in taking exams in the current format, you must begin to do so by February 28, 2020. After February 28, 2020, we will not accept new applications until we announce the new program in the Spring/Summer of 2020.

  • What else will change?

GFOA will be looking at state/regional GFOAs that have exam-based certification programs and finding opportunities to partner with them on program fundamentals if they are interested. There will also be new opportunities for more multi-format learning opportunities and an expanded online presence. We plan on making the exams available more frequently and to highlight training courses and resources that will be helpful in preparing for the exams.

For more information on CFPO changes, please contact Eric Roach or Susan Gaffney.