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: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2019

Local government leaders often consider it a truism that citizens will not vote for more taxes. Public opinion on local taxes, however, may not be as rigid as the conventional wisdom suggests. To illustrate, since 2004, 3,023 different local revenue initiatives were posed to California voters
and 2,094—or 69%—of them passed!

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Elizabeth Fu
Year: 
2020

Local governments have a duty to respond quickly and decisively to extreme events and provide continuity in critical public service through adverse circumstances. Reserves or “rainy day funds,” federal assistance, and indemnitybased insurance* programs are the primary tools governments have used to manage risk associated with events, such as natural disasters, recessions, etc., that have the potential to disrupt public services. In recent years, a type of insurance instrument called “parametric insurance” has generated interest in local governments in North America to help fulfill risk management needs that aren’t met by indemnity based insurance, federal assistance, or rainy day funds.

Year: 
2013

Public pension plans hold more than $3 trillion in assets in trust on behalf of more than 15 million working and 8 million retired state and local government employees and their surviving family members. This guide provides key facts about public pension plans, why it is essential to have a pension funding policy, a brief overview of the new GASB standards, and which issues state and local officials need to address. The guide also offers guidance for policy makers to use when developing their pension plan’s funding policy.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2020

Technological change has “disrupted” many traditional industries. Some of the most notable include print media, telecom, retail, and music. Some cities have firsthand experience with rideshare technologies like Uber and Lyft disrupting the traditional taxi industry. Many more local governments, though, have experience with technology disrupting traditional revenues. The Region of Peel, in Ontario, recognized this disruption and decided to do something about it. Peel is very dependent on property taxes, so the Peel regional government’s financial foundation was at stake. The Region of Peel has practiced long-term financial planning for many years, so it recognized that it needed to begin adapting before the disruption became a crisis. In this article, we will review how the Region of Peel has started to tackle this problem.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2020

Pension costs are a challenge for local governments all over the country. In this paper, we will share the experience of Queen Creek, Arizona—a community of about 50,000 that solved its pension problem and, in the process, transformed the entire state of Arizona. We’ll see that Queen Creek’s solution reflects many of the strategies described in the Financial Foundations Framework.

Year: 
2018

A local government’s staff deliver the day-to-day services that provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the community. Employee engagement is the degree to which an employee is passionate about and committed to their job and organization. If staff are fully engaged in their jobs, then they will put in the extra effort needed to provide the best services possible. If they are disengaged they will, at best, put in the bare minimum effort necessary to satisfy their job description and, at worst, will actively seek to undermine the organization.

Author: 
National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting
Year: 
1998

The recommended practices have set a new standard of excellence in state and local government budgeting. As with any reform effort, widespread acceptance of changes in budgetary practice will take time, but the benefits promise to be profound and far-reaching. What is significant about the practices is that they represent an unprecedented cooperative effort by several organizations with diverse interests to examine and agree on key aspects of good budgeting. The Council was founded by eight organizations representing elected officials, government administrators, and finance professionals at both the state and local government level.

Author: 
Shayne Kavanagh
Year: 
2007

Constituent relationship management (CRM) is a combination of people, processes, and technology used to deliver superior service to the constituent.1 Superior service means shorter wait times to contact government representatives, less frustration in finding the required services, outcomes that are delivered when promised, and ultimately greater constituent satisfaction.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Katie Ludwig
Year: 
2020

Local governments everywhere face pressure to improve their financial condition. In this article, we will see how the City of Indian Wells, California, strengthened its financial foundation. Though it is a community of only about 5,000 people, Indian Wells’ experience is informative for all local governments. We will also see how Indian Wells’ experience illustrates the concept described by GFOA’s Financial Foundations for Thriving Communities.

Year: 
2017

As part of its tax reform efforts, Congress is debating whether to eliminate the ability for taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes (SALT). Since the federal income tax was adopted in the early 20th century, it has been recognized that independent state and local government tax structures should be respected. The deduction of state and local taxes has contributed to the stability of state and local tax revenues that are essential for providing public services. This report shows the impact of eliminating the SALT deduction on taxpayers and local governments.

Author: 
Mark Mack
Year: 
2016

Governments that want to engage their citizens via technology have many choices; the challenge for most communities is determining which tools are right for them. This choice is often based on a number of factors including the availability of resources, the community’s appetite for engagement, and the impetus of government leadership. While the factors influencing which tools a community should select often vary, the benefits that can be realized from new methods of civic engagement are clear. This paper highlights key features to consider when selecting civic engagement tools.

Author: 
Mark Mack
Year: 
2016

INTRODUCTION

Author: 
Shayne Kavanagh
Vincent Reitano
Year: 
2018

Citizens’ trust in government is vital to the functioning of a democratic system. Transparency is one way in which governments can build trust. However, “transparency” does not mean just making financial data available to those who have an interest in it. In fact, psychological research suggests that people do not rely solely or even primarily on logic and reason to form judgements, such as trust. Hence, governments must go beyond open and accessible data strategies in order to build trust. There are costs associated with transparency.

Year: 
2019

Understanding Financing Options Used For Public Infrastructure (“the Primer”) provides an overview of tax-exempt bond and other financings used by state and local governments and entities. The Primer covers numerous issue areas related to tax-exempt financings. These sections include the fundamentals of tax-exempt bonds and other financing tools that are available to state and local governments and related entities, the role tax-exempt bonds play in infrastructure financings and as an investment product, and Congressional actions over the past fifty years related to this market.

Author: 
Shayne C. Kavanagh
Year: 
2011

Zero-base budgeting (ZBB) is a budgeting process that asks managers to build a budget from the ground up, starting from zero. However, ZBB has been the subject of some controversy over the years, owing primarily to questions about the value ZBB analysis provides, in light of the costs incurred to putting ZBB into practice. The goal of this paper is to define what ZBB means in current practice, describe the uses of ZBB, help public officials have a conversation in their organizations about the value of ZBB, and explore the important alternatives to ZBB.