Magazine article Government Finance Review

Expanding the Frontiers of Government Finance: 2005 Annual Conference Recap

Magazine article Government Finance Review

Expanding the Frontiers of Government Finance: 2005 Annual Conference Recap

Article excerpt

Downtown San Antonio and its famed river served as an ideal setting for GFOA's 99th annual conference, which was one of the best-attended conferences in our history. More than 7,800 attendees gathered in San Antonio for the four-day event held June 26-29 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Themed "Expanding the Frontiers of Government Finance," the conference gave members an opportunity to learn about the latest developments in public financial management.


Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas, delivered the keynote address at Monday's general session. Richards began a long and distinguished career in public service as a schoolteacher before becoming state treasurer in the 1980s and governor from 1990 to 1994. Richards shared her unique experience and vision about coping with the demands of public service and managing people. She offered five lessons to GFOA members: (1) think creatively and always ask, "Why are we doing this this way?" (2) reward good staff work; (3) involve your entire organization in problem-solving, planning, and implementation; (4) make training and education high on your priority list for yourself and your employees; and (5) take care of your health and yourself so that you are in a better position to aid your employees.

On Tuesday, futurist Jim Carroll spoke about future trends in public finance. His presentation, "What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward-Thinking Innovation," focused on the need for government leaders to have the skills and insight to prepare for an ever-changing future. Carroll discussed the rapid rate of change occurring in our world, and how this puts increased pressure on government organizations to meet the changing expectations of constituents. The solution, he said, is for governments to foster innovation and think differently.


This year's conference program featured 60 concurrent sessions and 12 discussion groups. Attendees could earn up to 20 continuing professional education credits during the conference; additional credits could be earned by attending one or more preconference seminars. This year's program featured 60 concurrent sessions and 12 discussion groups across seven tracks. The program covered a wide range of topics, from the cost of postretirement healthcare and other postemployment benefits to performance measurement and economic development. Discussion groups addressed trends in popular reporting, health care costs, and GFOA's recommended practices on accounting, auditing, and financial reporting, among other issues. Most speaker presentations and handouts are now available online at, and audio recordings of all of the concurrent sessions are now available for purchase through the GFOA e-Store.


The exhibit hall was filled with a record-breaking 194 companies, including some of the most innovative and timely exhibits seen to date. As always, exhibitors showed off the latest products and services of interest to financial decision makers in state and local government. The exhibit hall drew a large number of attendees, and it proved to be an ideal setting to network with peers, share ideas, and evaluate new products and services.


At the annual business meeting on Tuesday, Nancy Zielke passed the presidential gavel to Carla Sledge, chief financial officer of Wayne County, Michigan. During her acceptance speech, Sledge thanked her GFOA family and encouraged members to work with her in refining GFOA's core mission and in improving member services. …

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