The GFOA's Executive Board recently approved five new Best Practices

Structurally Balanced Budget Policy.  Most state and local governments are subject to a requirement to pass a balanced budget. However, the precise definition of a “balanced budget” is sometimes vague in such regulations, such that a budget that is balanced by the standards of a statute or regulation may not, in fact, be financially sustainable. GFOA recommends that governments adopt rigorous policies, for all operating funds, aimed at achieving and maintaining a structurally balanced budget: one that is sustainable for multiple years into the future.

Pricing Internal Services.  Internal services are those responsibilities a government provides to support its own internal operations, rather than direct service to citizens. Common examples of internal services include information technology, payroll, motor pool, budgeting, attorneys, accounting, and human resources. Certain management objectives are served by creating a system to assign prices for the use of these internal services, which are then assessed to the departments that use the services. However, there is a cost to develop and maintain internal pricing systems. Governments must weigh the benefits of an internal services costing system against the cost and complexity of system design choices. GFOA recommends that governments identify what goals they hope to accomplish through a pricing system for internal services. The goals will guide the design of the system.

Establishing an Effective Grants Policy.  The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends that governments encourage grant-seeking by staff, but also recognize the potential risks of grants and take steps to manage those risks. Finance officers need to establish processes and policies to promote awareness that grants normally come with significant requirements. Further, the processes and policies should ensure that the awareness exists not only throughout the life of the grant, but also in advance of the grant award, for example, during the application phase of the grant.

Guidelines for Funding Defined Benefit Pensions.  The GFOA recommends that governments that offer defined benefit pension plans adopt a funding policy to ensure that the costs of pension benefits will be funded in an equitable and sustainable manner, and which commits to funding the full amount of the actuarially determined contribution each period.

Cost of Issuance Incurred in a Publicly Offered Debt Transaction.  It is important for issuers of governmental debt to understand the fees charged in a bond transaction, and the manner in which various professionals should be paid. This BP lays out the direct costs of issuance that a government is responsible for when issuing debt.