Financial Management Frontiers in 21st Century Governments

Article excerpt

As the Association of Government Accountants stands at the threshold of a new century and millennium, the Association is celebrating the past half-century's accomplishments in improving financial management at all levels of government while anticipating future challenges. To succeed, we will need to rely more and more on the expertise of our partner organizations who are on the forefront of the developing global community. This article highlights a few of these critical partners and shows how our world gets a little smaller every day.

Dealing at a New Pace

The Association's International Development Committee believes that the information age is being transformed to the connected age-as computer and communications technology combine to enable us to close the gaps of geography and time. AGA members from Hawaii to Puerto Rico are chatting, exchanging documents, solving problems and networking instantaneously via the Internet and other new tools, such as video conferencing. In governments, educational institutions and businesses, the new tools are also increasing our ability to become connected.

As financial management leaders, we are compelled to think globally-looking at issues and ideas with a worldwide perspective. Thinking beyond our historical borders is not new-it's the pace, scope and impact of the challenges in our global environment that is really different.

The world changes so quickly that it's hard to keep up. New inventions and innovations alter the way we live. Our values, attitudes and beliefs are changing. And as the pace of change accelerates, it becomes more difficult to prepare for tomorrow. The future does not just happen: people create it through their action-or inaction-today. Inaction is not an option for financial managers. Visions, missions, goals, objectives, programs and plans must be developed and, more importantly, effectively implemented.

Change has been with us since the beginning of time. Leaders such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark, Alexander Graham Bell, Marconi, Neil Armstrong and many other leaders, explorers and inventors have brought globalization and change to the world. We must expand our horizons beyond awareness of change, toward accepting and adapting to frequent, dramatic changes happening globally. We must be ready to anticipate events and the needs of the public that we serve while being ever-vigilant and responsive.

The potential Y2K crisis is a preview of the type of challenges we will face more frequently in the coming years. On January 1, 2000, a potential problem, which can have far-reaching effects on all aspects of our lives, will encircle the globe and possibly affect us all within 24 hours.

Facing Emerging Challenges

As our governments go, so goes our nation, especially from the standpoint of financial and economic well-being. As government financial managers, it is incumbent upon us to be aware of legislation, technological developments, programming and planning that will affect our work.

As developments occur, we must rely upon each other to plan for, respond to and manage changes that will affect our continuing growth and success in the next century. In our professional associations, we must place more emphasis on practicing what we preach in our employing organizations by ensuring that our employers have the best possible long-range strategic, tactical, business and financial plans. These plans will enable us to function better collectively as an Association while upholding our tradition of providing exceptional development and learning opportunities for our members.

In national, state and local levels of governments, we have members who stay up-to-date on the most important globalization issues, such as world trade, emerging and sustained financial crises and environmental concerns. Security and quality of life issues will continue to challenge us as citizens and as financial management professionals, who must be prepared to provide decision-support information and transparent, easily understood reports. …