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2009 CFO Survey

2009 CFO Survey

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Published by: akrzmarzick on Oct 19, 2009
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and theTransparency Imperative
Association of Government Accountants’ 
 Annual CFO Survey
july 2009
Abot the Association of Government Accontants (AGA)
AGA, founded in 1950, is the educational organization dedicated to the enhancement of public
nancial management. The AGA serves the professional interests of state, local and federalnancial managers who are responsible for effectively using billions of dollars and other monetary resources every day. The association has more than 14,000 members, including
professionals in accounting, administration, auditing, budgeting, consulting, grants, fraud
investigation and information technology. The AGA has been instrumental in developingaccounting and auditing standards and in generating new concepts for the effective orga
nization and administration of nancial management functions. The association conductsindependent research and analysis of all aspects of government nancial management. Thesestudies, including the 2008 AGA CFO Survey and 20 independent studies supported by theCorporate Partner Advisory Group, make AGA a leading advocate for improving the qualityand effectiveness of government scal administration and program performance and account
ability. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.agacgfm.org.
Abot the Nationa Association of State Aditors, Comptroers andTreasrers (NASACT)
NASACT is an organization for state ofcials who deal with the nancial management of stategovernment. NASACT’s membership comprises ofcials who have been elected or appointedto the ofce of state auditor, state comptroller or state treasurer in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Visit www.NASACT.org.
Abot the Financia Management Institte of Canada (fmi*igf)
A national, not-for-prot, professional association, fmi*igf was established in 1962 with a mainobjective of sharing best practices in managing public sector resources. Membership is opento anyone with an interest in sound public sector management. The institute has 2,400 mem
bers and 13 chapters across Canada. Visit www.fmi.ca.
Abot Grant Thornton llP Goba Pbic Sector 
Grant Thornton’s Global Public Sector, based in Alexandria, Va., is a global management con
sulting business with the mission of providing responsive and innovative nancial, performancemanagement, and systems solutions to governments and international organizations. Thepeople in the independent rms of Grant Thornton International Ltd provide personalized atten
tion and the highest-quality service to public and private clients in more than 100 countries.Grant Thornton LLP is the U.S. member rm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the sixglobal audit, tax and advisory organizations. Visit www.grantthornton.com/publicsector.
Governments in Canada and the United Statesare in a “perect storm” o economic recession,budget shortalls and growing demands orpublic service. Both national governments haveincreased spending to help their economiesrecover, but along with recovery unding thereare new mandates or transparency. At the sametime, President Barack Obama has called or gov-ernment that is more transparent, collaborativeand participatory. Transparency is the oundationor this approach to government, especially ornancial and perormance inormation, and isinextricably linked to scal recovery.“Transparency” is in the eyes o the beholder, say many survey respondents, but they need morespecic and practical guidance on the meaning o the term. Based on survey responses, this reportpresents eight principles o transparency ornancial and perormance inormation, the rsto which is to have a process or ensuring that datadisclosed are timely, accurate and reliable. Thisprinciple means the rst responsibility o CFOsis to take care o basic nancial managementactivities like accounting, budgeting, reporting,auditing and internal control, because these arethe building blocks o scal transparency.Survey respondents are concerned about the costo meeting transparency mandates in a time o tight budgets. For example, executives in someU.S. state governments say that their inormation
In spring 2009, nearly 500 government nancialexecutives and managers from the United States andCanada participated in the 15th annual chief nancialofcer (CFO) survey sponsored by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). Key topics for 2009include economic recovery, transparency, what newCFOs need to know and annual nancial statements.
systems are ill equipped to meet requirementsto track unds rom the American Recovery andReinvestment Act o 2009 (ARRA) down to theprogram and local levels. All levels o govern-ment are debating how to invest in increasedtransparency. CFOs can calculate the return oninvestment (ROI) on alternative approaches todisclosing inormation to the public, which willhelp guide cost-eective transparency.Survey participants say that excellent money management is critical or tight budgets, but old ways o making government decisions do notgive nance the importance it deserves. They think that new analytical capabilities or nan-cial managers will be useul to their customersand stakeholders. First, though, CFOs mustunderstand what nancial and perormancedata users need and educate them in how touse the inormation.In their current orm, the audited annualnancial statements used in government, thoughimportant indicators o scal soundness, havelittle intrinsic value to the public or to govern-ment decision makers. Ways to improve thereports include aligning their content with theinormation needs o citizens, legislators andnonnancial managers and making better linksbetween nancial inormation in the statementsand budgets and perormance measures. A perect storm in the economy and governmentcreates extraordinary challenges, but it presentsan opportunity to CFOs and other nancialleaders. According to a U.S. nancial executive we interviewed, “With transparency, we havethis great experiment called ‘Where’s the money going?’ and money is the CFO’s story. This givesus an opportunity to evaluate our reportingmodel against citizen demand or inormation. Itis also an opportunity or us to show our value.”
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