Research Reports

Research Reports

GFOA's Research and Consulting Center (RCC) focuses on providing high quality research and advisory services by pairing the lessons learned from a broad membership network with the expertise of a highly educated professional staff that has practical experience working in local government.  Research reports both support and stem from the work completed in the field.  GFOA's Research and Consulting Center conducts regular ongoing research and can also work directly with individual governments to provide information.  Research reports produced recently are displayed below.

For more information on GFOA research or to inquire about a specific research project, please contact Shayne Kavanagh, GFOA Senior Manager - Research.

40 Documents

Pages


Author: 
Michael Belarmino
Year: 
2019

Tax-exempt bonds are the primary mechanism through which state and local governments raise capital to finance a wide range of essential public projects. The volume of municipal bond issuance for the period from 2007 to 2017 amounted to $3.6 trillion. Communities across the country would be negatively impacted if federal tax policy reduced the financial power of state and local governments to meet their capital needs.

Year: 
2020

All local governments are potential targets for cybercrime, a risk that intensifies as victims increasingly pay ransoms to regain access to their hijacked technologies. It can be tempting to pay up because hacks are disruptive, damaging, and embarrassing – and expensive. This report identifies simple simple and inexpensive strategies that address people, process, and technology to protect their organizations from cyber threats without conducting a costly cybersecurity assessment. Many of the recommendations on the following pages address the weakest link in cybersecurity: the human factor.

Year: 
2017

This provides the details of the new financial sustainability framework, including suggested implementation tactics.

Author: 
Shayne Kavanagh
Jeff Cole
Harry Kenworthy
Year: 
2014

You’ve heard of Lean and you are intrigued. You are acquainted with the basic Lean tools and concepts such as Kaizen, the 8 wastes, root cause analysis, and process maps - but what are the next steps? The purpose of this guide is to help you get off to a good start on your Lean journey, including:

Author: 
The National Performance Management Advisory Commission
Year: 
2010

The National Performance Management Advisory Commission has released its final report titled: A Performance Management Framework for State and Local Government: From Measurement and Reporting to Management and Improving.

The commission created the framework expressly for public managers and public officials, who must provide leadership for initiating and sustaining performance management.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2013

The City of Colorado Springs, like many other governments, had questions about the amount it should maintain in reserve. This case study of Colorado Spring's risk-based assessment of reserve requirements starts out by identifying general risk factors. It then identifies primary risk factors -- revenue volatility, infrastructure upkeep, and vulnerability to extreme events -- and secondary risk factors before explaining the GFOA's findings and recommendations for the city.

Year: 
2017

Academic return on investment (A-ROI) is the practice of scientifically evaluating the cost-effectiveness of academic programs and then deciding where to allocate resources accordingly. Put more simply, A-ROI is a structured approach to getting the most bang for the buck.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Jon Johnson
Chris Fabian
Year: 
2011

Governments have traditionally used incremental budgeting, but priority-driven budgeting provides a more strategic alternative. Priority-driven budgeting allocates resources according to how well a program or service achieves the goals and objective that the community values most.

Year: 
2018

Since the mid-1900’s, state and local governments have struggled with the issue of taxing remote sales. For decades, the primary method of remote sales was in the form of mail-order businesses. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue, 386 U.S. 753 (1967), that a state could not require sellers to collect use taxes if the only connection with customers in the state is through materials sent by common carrier or mail.

Author: 
Shayne Kavanagh
Year: 
2006

This report analyzes the market for software solutions to assist local governments with formulation and analysis of operating and capital budgets as well as with administration of performance measurement programs. The primary audience for this report is mid-size, general-purpose governments (e.g., cities and counties).

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2011

The Great Recession taught governments that being sustainable is not enough -- they must be resilient, able to thrive under conditions of adversity. This paper explains the importance of long-term financial planning by focusing on the eight essential characteristics of a resilient organization: diversity, redundancy, decentralization, transparency, collaboration, grace in failure, flexibility, and foresight. In this way, governments create soft landings in times of economic distress and improved value for the public.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Elizabeth Fu
Year: 
2019

People need to be able to believe what they hear about a local government’s finances. They need to believe that local leaders have the community’s best interest at heart. If people are to contribute resources to the local government, they need to trust that those resources will
be transformed into something of value.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Katie Ludwig
Year: 
2020

The capital infrastructure built and maintained by local government is essential for a thriving community. However, the deficiencies in our communities’ infrastructure are well documented. A big part of the challenge is deciding how to allocate a limited budget between competing projects and interests. Usually, these competing interests seek to gain as much as possible from the budget for themselves. When everyone does this, the budget becomes overburdened, and the financial foundation of local government becomes compromised. In this article, we will examine the capital planning practices of Wake County, North Carolina, and how they align with what GFOA research has found to be some of the keys to a strong financial foundation.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Joseph P. Casey, PhD
Year: 
2020

Local governments need to make sure they have enough cash on hand for essential services. Thus, one of the first things local governments should do is slow the net flow of cash out the door and find ways to rebalance the budget. This could be done by reducing expenditures, delaying expenditures, or even finding new resources. There are many financial retrenchment techniques a government could use to get this done.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2011

As employee health-care benefits continue to rise, employers face the relentless problem of finding extra money to fund them. This paper provides six leverage points -- changing the level of benefits provided, managing participants’ choice of providers, sharing the cost with employees, reducing employees' use of health care services, "right-sourcing" health benefit services, and maximizing the value received for the health care dollar -- along with specific strategies that public employers can use to manage and contain the cost of employee health-care benefits.

Year: 
2017

This provides a brief introduction to the Financial Sustainability Index Framework in a convenient how-to guide.

For more detailed information on the Financial Sustainability Index visit the Financial Sustainability Resource Center

 

 

Year: 
2017

A Self-Assessment Tool for Financial Sustainability provides a self-evaluation tool to help you see the extent to which your organization is positioned to make financially sustainable choices.

Year: 
2017

Maintaining the financial capacity to provide quality services is a concern for all local governments. This is especially true in a time of immediate cost pressures, like pension and infrastructure, and resource constraints, like reduced financial support from state and federal governments and public aversion to higher taxes. Further, an aging population uses more in public services and pays less in taxes, which means local governments will be facing fiscal pressures for years to come.

Year: 
2010

Created in June 2009, the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) Generational Task Force was developed to address three main issues, recruiting, retention and retirement, presented by the shifting of the workforce to one that includes four diverse generations. This report, written by the Generational Task Force, provides governments with practical and supportive tool, along with case studies, that will help them meet new challenges regardless of their current state of preparedness.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Joe Casey
Year: 
2010

During the early stages of a financial recovery, jurisdictions need to take action right away to begin to stabilize the situation – before the leaders of the recovery process will be able to conduct a detailed diagnosis of the causes of distress and develop a response tailored to the situation. At this point, the organization can turn to generic retrenchment techniques – techniques that are safe to apply with little or no foregoing diagnosis of the situation, which are especially useful at the start of the recovery process.

Author: 
Michael Thomas
Michael Belarmino
Emily Brock
Year: 
2019

Federal grants have helped maintain a quality standard of living for communities across the country for over a century. There are over a thousand federal grant programs that transfer funds to state and local governments in support of a multitude of policy issues. State and local governments rely on the funds from federal grants to assist in providing what the citizens of their localities need. Over the years, the federal grant system has grown and changed to accommodate the constantly shifting priorities of American communities.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2010

Lean -- a strategy for eliminating the waste involved in delivering a service to customer -- is a powerful tool for improving efficiency and employee productivity, especially when revenue is scarce. This paper describes the Lean process and breaks it down into three main steps: planning a Lean initiative, executing a Lean event, and following up. The process can and should be repeated over and over as a fundamental part of the organization's management, as eliminating waste is not a "one and done" process.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2013

In 2012, the GFOA studied performance measures of larger North American cities and counties, conducting comprehensive interviews and surveys of ten organizations that were already using a performance management system.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2020

The acquisition cost of an asset is just a portion of the total cost of owning it. Ongoing maintenance significantly adds to that cost; and for a long-lived asset, that cost can be much greater than the initial design, construction, and installation cost. Moreover, failure to keep up with regular asset maintenance can result in premature deterioration and an increased risk of failure, leading to even greater maintenance and rehabilitation costs. A tool that helps solve this challenge is life cycle costing. Life cycle cost analysis considers the entire cost of owning the asset over its useful life. This article will provide an introduction to life cycle cost analysis, using pavement and the City/County of San Francisco, California, as an illustration.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Mike Mucha
Year: 
2007

As school districts continue to be faced with new and complex challenges of longer nature, planning for the long-term is becoming of greater importance. Successfully navigating through these new and complex challenges requires a long-term plan that describes present and future educational needs of the community, actions the school must take to meet these needs, and how these actions will be funded.


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