June 13, 2023
The 117th GFOA Annual Conference advances excellence in public finance.
At the 117th Annual Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) conference (my first!), I witnessed the convergence of nearly 100 sessions covering a wide range of topics, from forecasting and asset management to compliance, budgeting, procurement, fiduciary activities, and cybersecurity. However, the gems of the conference were the daily inspirational keynotes and insightful leadership workshops led by esteemed experts in teamwork, collaboration, organizational culture, growth mindset, and workplace learning. All the sessions were expertly designed to ignite new ideas, motivate attendees, and empower public finance professionals and the teams they lead to be the best versions of themselves.
A growth mindset is the belief that our abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work, and a love for learning. It stands in stark contrast to a fixed mindset, which suggests that our traits are innate and unchangeable. With a growth mindset, failures are seen not as an indication of inadequacy, but as opportunities for learning and improvement. Cultivating a growth mindset fosters resilience, encourages lifelong learning, and enables individuals to step outside their comfort zones. This mindset can be transformational in any realm of life, from personal development to professional success.
During the conference, I listened to Eduardo Briceño, famous for his thought-provoking Ted Talks on getting better at the things we care about and the power of belief. Briceño's book, "The Performance Paradox: Turning the Power of Mindset into Action," set to be released in September, explores the notion that true innovation stems from broadening and deepening our mental state and strategies. It involves going beyond what we already know and combining what Briceño refers to as the Performance Zone and the Learning Zone to "Learn While Doing." This integration of zones propels us towards extraordinary accomplishments and breakthroughs.
The State of the Public Sector Workplace
While public finance positions often offer better compensation compared to their private sector counterparts, the sector itself faces significant challenges in the post-pandemic job market. With over 60% of the workforce aged 45 and above and a scarcity of skilled replacements among those aged 34 and younger, experienced professionals are aging out of their roles without sufficient successors.
To address these challenges, government entities must emphasize the service aspect of public finance work. Successful organizations are built on a foundation of trust, innovation, equality, growth, self-actualization, and a shared commitment to making the world a better place. By enabling everyone in the organization to identify their unique skills and passions, it’s possible to unlock a team’s full potential and achieve greater value recognition and expected business outcomes – one person at a time, from the bottom up. I know Charles Koch would agree.
The budget holds a central position in the government's universe. It serves as the foundation for funding crucial decisions and initiatives that impact our communities, schools, and fellow citizens. If you're reading this, chances are you are a tax-paying citizen with a vested interest in the fiduciary activities of the government where you live and work. However, it's important to recognize that finance in the public sector differs significantly from the private sector. Public finance is an act of public service that involves building public trust, maintaining transparency, and strategically allocating budgetary resources to address community challenges. Unfortunately, the skills required for public finance are often overlooked in academic programs, which tend to focus more on the private sector.
The GFOA recognizes and supports the Governmental Accounting Standards Board's (GASB) authority in establishing generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for the government. GASB serves as the bedrock of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in the public sector. Each principle defined by GASB addresses a specific problem and provides a framework for its resolution. With over 100 accounting standards in place today, it is evident why Infor continues to invest in the development of cloud technology solutions that enable public servants to perform their work while maintaining GASB compliance.
Infor: GFOA 2023 Gold Sponsor
Against the stunning backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Oregon Convention Center hosted the 117th Annual Government Finance Officers Association conference from May 21-24. More than 5,000 attendees, including over 600 first-time participants, gathered to share insights, explore new ideas, and celebrate the dedication of public servants from across the globe. It was truly a diverse and international gathering, with representation from countries such as Sweden, Brazil, Australia, and Micronesia, showcasing the widespread reach and influence of the GFOA.
The conference was a testament to GFOA's commitment to inclusivity. Special social events and networking opportunities were tailored for women and minority groups, creating platforms for open discussions, fostering connections, and sharing unique experiences. These initiatives contribute to the rich tapestry of our GFOA community, amplifying the collective voice of public finance professionals.
Additionally, the conference was enriched by the participation of more than 200 exhibitors who showcased the latest innovations, technologies, and services that are shaping the future of public service. These tools and solutions aim to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and ultimately improve service delivery in our communities.
The 117th GFOA Annual Conference was not merely an event; it was a celebration of the collective spirit and unwavering dedication of public servants. It exemplified their vital roles in shaping our future and making a difference in the world of public finance. Let's continue our journey of impact and create a brighter future together.