2023 Annual Conference Sessions: Budgeting and Forecasting
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Sessions for Sunday, May 21
Behind the Scenes: Practical Lessons Learned in Budgeting for Equity
Rethinking Public Engagement for Budgeting
For decades, finance officers, and governments in general, have recognized the need to improve public engagement in the budget process. Public engagement is often limited to a public hearing or two, which typically happens after important decisions have been made and often amount to little more than a chance for people to air grievances. GFOA's Rethinking Public Engagement initiative brought together top experts from across the country to take a fresh look at public engagement. In this session, you will hear about some of the key lessons learned and how you can get involved in a cohort of local governments that will work towards better public engagement in their communities.
Smarter School Spending: Navigating the Intersection of Instructional Goals and Finance
Public schools districts are charged with providing a free and appropriate education to all students and must do so with limited funding. Most school districts have a strategic plan outlining the instructional goals they are attempting to meet in providing that education. However, in order to ensure that those limited funds are spent in support of the strategic goals, finance officers from school districts need to go beyond the strategic plan and implement a long-term financial plan and budgeting practices that promote student achievement. GFOA's Smarter School Spending project and the Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting provide a framework to enhance school district budgeting and prepare governments to better align of strategic goals/student outcomes and resource allocation.
Sessions for Monday, May 22
Smarter School Spending: Using Analytical Reviews
Included in the GFOA’s Best Budgeting Practices for School Districts framework are tools to be used to analyze, assess, and prioritize instructional goals. In order to ensure that those limited funds are spent in support of the strategic goals, we introduce participants to the tools available through Smarter School Spending related to cost savings options, initiatives inventory, and an introduction to Academic Return on Investment (AROI).
No Easy Answers: Risks, Uncertainty, and Reserves.
The Budget Officer as Decision Architect: Designing the Decision Making Environment
Government leaders make decisions for a living. With good decision-making, they can greatly improve the lives of their constituents and further their own careers. But decision-making is messy. It is often done by groups, so there are conflicting points of view. It is usually time constrained, so there isn’t time to consider everything. There is always uncertainty, usually more than we realize. And it is done by humans, so it comes with the myriad well-documented psychological biases. Finance officers can help their organization make better decisions by "architecting" the decision-making environment. In this session, we will discuss the key skills of a decision-architect, how finance officers have used them, and how you can build them.
Forecast with Confidence: Improving Your Skills to Make Better Decisions for Your Government
Forecasting is a foundational part of budgeting and financial planning. Forecasts allow public officials to anticipate future resource availability and plan accordingly. Forecasts are used to develop budgets that are balanced and affordable. Longer-term forecasts analyze the financial sustainability of existing policies and programs and to provide warning of potential imbalances. A forecast can be used to create a shared basis for discussion of what the fiscal future might look like and, then, what actions can be taken to change the future. In this session we will discuss the skills you need to make the best forecasts you can, in the time you have available. We'll also discuss how forecasting practices can be adapted to volatile and uncertain environment.
Finance on Fire: Overcoming Issues with Budgeting for Fire Services
Sessions for Tuesday, May 23
Better Days Ahead: Strategies for Financial Sustainability Amid Uncertainty
Politics in Budgeting: Don't Hate the Player, Don't Hate the Game, Change the Game
Budgeting is a political process. "Politics" is often considered a dirty word in our profession, but the finance officer needs to not just survive a political environment, but thrive in it. This can be done without succumbing to the worst aspects of politics. In this session we will talk about common political power plays the finance officer might encounter, the sources of the finance officer's own political power, and how to ethically exercise that power and redirect potentially destructive political impulses to more productive outcomes.
Sessions for Wednesday, May 24
What Does It Take to Rethink Budgeting?
The typical budget process is based online items and historical precedent. While this does have some advantages, it also has a host of disadvantages that have long been recognized. Those disadvantages are becoming more acute as our society evolves. Many intrepid finance officers have explored new ways of doing budgeting and GFOA's Rethinking Budgeting project is providing new guidance for doing budgeting differently. But what does it take for a local government to change the way it budgets and plans? In this session, we'll discuss what GFOA research is finding and hear from practitioners are who are rethinking their own budgets.