Magazine article Government Finance Review

President's Message

Magazine article Government Finance Review

President's Message

Article excerpt

Let me start by saying how proud and humbled I am to lead such an impressive organization as the GFOA. Throughout its 104-year history, the GFOA has continued to raise the bar on the government finance profession, and I will do whatever I can to contribute to that progress. Someone asked me after I became president elect what my approach would be as president. I said that it would be like retouching the Mona Lisa--something that requires great care and ultimate respect for those who have so skilfully shaped the organization since its inception.

None of us achieves our full potential alone. My wife, Diane, and my children, Kim and Scott, have made my journey so very worthwhile and have always been there for me. Toronto City Manager Joe Pennachetti and Chief Financial Officer Cam Weldon gave me a big green light to pursue the president position and have been strong supporters of the GFOA over the years. I am also deeply indebted to my colleagues on the GFOA Executive Board and the Committee on Canadian Issues. We are all extremely well served by your dedication and leadership.

Each of us has our own story to tell about how we first became involved with the GFOA--what attracted us, and what continues to attract us. The appeal for me is because:

* Much of the work of the GFOA is done by practicing government finance officers--and in particular, members of the standing committees--individuals who live, work, and breathe the profession.

* The organization can only be described as high performing, which is a testament to Executive Director Jeff Esser and his remarkable team.

* The GFOA has imminent appeal to a wide range of government entities across the United States and Canada--large, small, urban, rural, and everything from water districts to airport authorities, school districts, and state and provincial governments.

* The GFOA gives us the opportunity to network with some of the best minds in government finance.

One of the things that sets us, as government finance officers, apart from our private-sector counterparts is that we are far more open to sharing our stories--stories of success and, of equal importance, of things that did not go so well. I learned during my private pilot training that you should learn from the mistakes of others, since you will not live long enough to make them all yourself. I would encourage you to take full advantage of your GFOA colleagues, to be open about your experiences, to share your stories, and to hear the experiences of others.

PERSPECTIVES

A key area where we can learn from each other is long-term financial planning.

In early 2009, when I was interviewed for president elect, I assumed, like many of you, that by this time the economy would be rolling along and governmental revenues would be strengthening. Well, the economy is slowly rebounding, but government finances have not returned to where they were. The term "economic recovery" has been replaced with "economic reset." People are talking about the "new normal." As a result, we have been in crisis mode for far too long, and our jobs continue to be more challenging than ever.

There can be no denying that the financial landscape has fundamentally changed. New tools and new approaches are needed. Taking a long-term view has now become more vitally important than ever before. Few activities will more dramatically define and secure the emerging role of the government finance officer than long-term financial planning. …

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