PAFR Fellows Program

Connecting local governments with graduate students to create a readily accessible and easily understandable PAFR.

Public participation plays a pivotal role in the strategic planning of local governments. At the core of this engagement is the Popular Annual Financial Report, or PAFR, a vital tool for conveying essential financial data in a comprehensible format. The PAFR serves as a distilled version of the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR), making complex financial information accessible to both citizens and public servants.

For the public, the PAFR provides an invaluable window into their local government's financial health. It simplifies intricate financial data into an easily digestible format, empowering residents to make informed decisions about local policies and priorities. This enhances transparency, fosters trust, and encourages civic engagement, enabling residents to actively shape their community's future.

What is GFOA's PAFR Fellows Program?

This program seeks to connect local governments interested in developing a PAFR for the first time with a graduate students looking for practical experience. Together, they work to produce a PAFR that meets the criteria of GFOA’s PAFR Award program while also improving financial transparency and communication for the government.  

The next program will start in mid-March. Additional programs will be officered later in the year.

Governments pay the regular $250 GFOA application fee for the PAFR award program. GFOA then provides 100% plus additional matching funds to support the graduate student in producing the PAFR. At the end of the program, the PAFR is submitted to GFOA for award consideration.

Local governments participating in the program are expected to identify staff to serve as points of contact for the program and a resource for the PAFR Fellows.  The point of contacts should be available to attend GFOA’s kick off meeting and provide periodic feedback on the program and the PAFR in development.  Additional opportunities for training and coaching related to best practices in PAFR development are available, but not required throughout the program.

1. Financial Transparency: The primary expectation is to enhance financial transparency. Governments should aim to provide their constituents with a clear and easily understandable overview of the government's financial performance, including revenues, expenditures, debt, and major financial accomplishments.

2. Accessibility: The PAFR should be readily accessible to the public. Governments should ensure that the report is published and made available on their official website and in physical copies if necessary. It should also be distributed widely to key stakeholders and community members.

3. Clarity and Simplicity: Expect the PAFR to present complex financial information in a simple, concise, and visually appealing manner. The document should use plain language, avoid jargon, and employ graphics, charts, and tables to facilitate comprehension.

4. Accuracy and Reliability: Governments should expect the PAFR to accurately represent their financial position. This includes conducting rigorous financial audits and reviews to ensure the data presented in the report is correct and reliable.

5. Alignment with Goals and Priorities: The PAFR should align with the government's strategic goals and priorities. It should highlight key achievements, projects, and initiatives that demonstrate responsible financial management and progress toward meeting community objectives.

6. Public Engagement: Governments should anticipate using the PAFR as a tool for public engagement. They should expect to hold public meetings or forums to present the report, gather feedback, and address questions or concerns from residents. Public input should be considered in future financial planning.

7.  Compliance with Reporting Standards: Governments should adhere to reporting standards and guidelines established by relevant authorities or professional organizations. For example, they may follow the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) guidelines for PAFR preparation.

8. Continuous Improvement: Expectations should include a commitment to continuous improvement. Governments should regularly review and update the PAFR to ensure it remains relevant and meets the evolving needs of the community.

9. Cost Considerations: Governments should budget for the creation and dissemination of the PAFR. This may include expenses related to data collection, design, printing, and distribution.

10. Stakeholder Collaboration: Collaboration with various stakeholders, including finance professionals, communication experts, and graduate students (if involved), may be necessary to develop an effective PAFR.

11.  Legal Compliance: Ensure that the PAFR complies with any legal requirements related to financial reporting and transparency.

12.  Communication Plan: Develop a communication plan to inform the public about the availability of the PAFR and the purpose of the report. This may include press releases, social media announcements, and outreach to community organizations.

Apply here to participate in the PAFR Fellows program