Magazine article Government Finance Review

GFOA's Strategic Training Plan: The End of the Beginning

Magazine article Government Finance Review

GFOA's Strategic Training Plan: The End of the Beginning

Article excerpt

As a result of the keen interest of the Executive Board, in April 1994 the President of the GFOA appointed a six-member task force to examine the association's training efforts and recommend a five-year plan for improving and expanding GFOA's educational efforts. Fifteen months, six full-day task force meetings, a meeting with the GFOA state and provincial representatives and presidents, and three in-depth Executive Board discussions later, the GFOA now has a broad-based strategic plan to address the training needs of the members.

In developing the strategic training plan, the task force and the Executive Board first addressed the key training questions: Who are we trying to train? What information do they need? How can they best be trained? The answers to these questions constituted the statement of GFOA's training mission and philosophy and led to the formulation of the GFOA Strategic Training Plan. The mission set forth in this plan is:

to further educate all people involved in establishing, executing, and managing public financial resources to be capable of developing, maintaining, and improving effective government administration.

Supporting and guiding this mission are three goals, which relate to the type and extent of training, the cost effectiveness of programs, and a process of certification for public finance officials.

Goal One states, "To the extent possible, GFOA will offer training that cost-effectively meets the full range of individual needs." Achieving this goal will require use of a wide array of training technologies, such as self-study programs and workbooks, computer-based training, videos, seminars, and national conference. Each must be focused to varying levels of expertise and appropriate subject areas, such as accounting and financial reporting, cash management, retirement and benefits administration, debt management, and budgeting.

The second goal sets a target: "To double, within five years, the number of 'information contacts' that assist people in establishing, maintaining, or improving public management." Doubling information transfer will require mentoring programs that bring together experienced finance experts with those newer to the profession and strategies aimed at reaching members who find the cost of travel prohibitive. It will call for producing self-study courses and the use of computer-based materials and workbooks, audio/video tapes, and teleconferencing. We will continue to provide an outstanding annual conference and more regional seminars.

Goal Three's aim is "To initiate and maintain a process that certifies knowledge in the individual areas of public finance." GFOA members have indicated in a variety of ways their interest in a well-designed professional certification program. In evaluating this member interest, the Strategic Training Task Force conducted extensive research on state and national certification programs. It found that in the last 10 years there has been a major proliferation of programs self-designated as certifications. These programs vary greatly in character: some certify knowledge through written examination; others were simply of the "send-in-a-check-and-get-some-initials-after-your-name" variety. The GFOA's Strategic Training Task Force and Executive Board, firmly rejecting the fee-for-initials approach, were of one opinion: certification could only be made where knowledge was demonstrated. …

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