Academic journal article The Government Accountants Journal

Getting to the Core of Competency

Academic journal article The Government Accountants Journal

Getting to the Core of Competency

Article excerpt

Recipes for an Effective Federal Financial Management Work Force

During the past decade, several legislative initiatives, such as the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act of 1990, the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993, the Government Management Reform Act (GMRA) of 1994 and the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA) of 1996, have created an impetus for enhancing the quality and effectiveness of federal financial management. Recognizing that the key to this and any significant endeavor are the people involved, the Human Resources Committee (HRC) of the CFO Council and the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (LFMIP) are working to improve the recruitment, training, retention and performance of federal financial management personnel. It has become, and will continue to be, vital that organizations employ staff and management with the skills and competencies necessary to effectively manage federal programs as Congress relies on historical and expected program performance as foundations for funding decisions.

Improving the Federal Work Force

In the fall of 1994, a governmentwide training symposium was held to share information about and identify priorities for human resource development. The priorities identified at the symposium were the development of:

core competencies for financial management personnel;

continuing professional education policies; and

guidance on certification.

These priorities, coupled with a strong desire by the HRC to assist CFOs and other leaders in developing and retaining a highly skilled work force, were the catalyst for a joint project between the HRC and JFMIP to develop core competencies for a variety of federal financial management functions.

What are Core Competencies?

Core competencies may be defined as the skill sets essential to the effective management of an organization. They represent the fundamental capabilities that individuals must possess to accomplish the organization's mission, and can rarely be substituted for or replaced without compromising the organization's ability to operate effectively. The changing legislative and administrative landscape that has dominated much of the 1990s, particularly in the federal financial management arena, has created a need to expand and enhance the basic abilities, or competencies, that a financial manager in the federal government needs to effectively lead an organization. These include, but are not limited to:

the preparation, analysis and interpretation of consolidated financial statements;

the formulation/execution of budgets under increasingly constrained resource caps;

the development and implementation of complex and useful financial and management information systems; and

the development and use of performance measures.

The joint project to develop core competencies for federal financial management builds and expands upon work already undertaken by JFMIP to identify knowledge, skills and abilities for certain financial management functions. Last July, the HRC and JFM completed a multi-year project to develop core competencies documents covering the following employment categories:


budget analyst

financial manager

program manager

information technology (IT) personnel

financial systems analyst

management analyst and financial specialist

The first document in the series, Framework for Core Competencies for Financial Management Personnel in the Federal Government, not only addresses the first symposium priority by presenting the core competencies for the first three functions listed above (accountant, budget analyst, financial manager), but also is the foundation for future work relating to the additional priorities of developing continuing professional education requirements and guidance on certification programs. …

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