Conference Sessions

GFOA’s 114th Annual Conference will be held on May 17-20, 2020, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.  A sample of sesions that will be included in the program are displayed below. The full program will be finalized, including specific dates and times, and posted in January 2020, and include approximately 75 concurrent sessions. Each session will contain a panel of speakers carefully selected to provide best practice guidance, discussion of current events, case studies, debate, and interactive exercises to cover a complete suite of topics pertinent for finance officers of all types and representing all forms of state and local governments. Information on each session including speakers, bios, handouts, will be available as it becomes available.

For more information on conference sessions, please contact Mike Mucha.

55 Sessions

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Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

The legislative and regulatory environment surrounding the municipal bond market is constantly changing. This session will provide an outlook on how state and local governments are adapting to recent changes from the nation’s capital and what they might expect in the future, especially in light of the upcoming general election and how it may shape new policies and proposals. Speakers will also highlight discussions in Washington, D.C., regarding infrastructure finance, disclosure of climate change and cybersecurity risks, public pensions, and other legislative proposals that may impact a government’s comprehensive fiscal structure.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

Some of the biggest challenges that communities face are not contained solely within jurisdictional boundaries. Further, no local government has the resources necessary to address these problems on their own.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

In an ideal situation, bank reconciliation is a simple task completed regularly to sure consistency between the bank and a government's records. Most ERP systems even offer tools to help automate the process. However, bank reconciliation can also be quite challenge if your government makes payments from multiple systems, accepts payments at multiple locations and with various methods of tender, multiple cash collection points, or has inconsistencies in cash handling processes or if transactions are not accounted for correctly. In addition, for governments that don't regularly reconcile transactions or who have not for a long time, getting started can be daunting. In this session, speakers will discuss the many challenges and pitfalls of completing more complicated bank reconciliations, how to improve the process, and how technology can be used to both improve efficiency accuracy.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

Preparing note disclosures to basic financial statements can be the most challenging part of preparing financial statements. The GASB last took a comprehensive look at note disclosures leading up to the issuance of GASB Statement No. 38. While that project had been expected to reduce the volume of notes, in reality, the opposite occurred. Governments ended up adding disclosures and subsequent standards have only continued that trend. The GASB is now taking a conceptual approach to answering the question of what should be included in note disclosures. Speakers in this session will discuss the proposals in the exposure draft and how a final concept statement might ultimately affect the nature and quantity of notes.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 2:40pm to 3:30pm

GFOA surveys show that many local governments still lack key financial policies that contribute to the long-term financial health of local government. In 2020, GFOA will be hosting a "Financial Policy Challenge" focused on recognizing governments for their achievement in adopting sound policies, encouraging the sharing of policy examples, and increasing the percentage of governments with policies in place. In this session you will learn about key policies that are needed for your government to perform at its best and how you can work with elected officials to put these policies in place.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 3:50pm to 5:05pm

Governmental business-type entities (BTAs), such as public utilities, transit systems, airports, colleges and hospitals occupy a special place in the world of accounting and financial reporting. Subject to GASB standards, including many based on old private-sector guidance, these governments have unique challenges. This session will be a discussion of current accounting and financial reporting topics of particular interest to BTAs, based on the experiences of current officials responsible for such entities. Likely topics include the impact on BTAs of recent GASB guidance, such as on leases, PPPs, interest capitalization and those that affect governments that follow regulatory accounting.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 3:50pm to 5:05pm

The availability of data has increased exponentially in recent decades. As the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence and natural language generation have emerged, organizing and searching big data has become easier, making this trend likely to continue. This increase in data availability in the private sector has left some government struggling to keep up. Financial information can be complex and nuanced and the rules governing how public money must be managed can be difficult to explain. This session will focus on how local governments can be transparent in an appropriate and responsible way. Speakers will offer ways how best to provide context to financial data as it’s shared with various audiences.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 3:50pm to 5:05pm

US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society". Viewed in that light, taxes are good deal! However, many citizens don't see it that way. While the public will probably never be overjoyed to pay taxes, it might be possible for citizens to at least feel good about it and the services the taxes make possible. In this session, speakers will highlight strategies that local governments have used to communicate the value of public services and taxes to citizens and get the public's acceptance and even approval of new public spending.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 3:50pm to 5:05pm

Life is full of risks and risk management can't be something you think about just in the context of buying an insurance policy, planning for natural disaster, or establishing cyber-security policies.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

Each year at the annual conference GFOA presents this can't miss round-up to discuss key developments in accounting, auditing, and financial reporting that affect state and local governments. Topics covered will include recently promulgated standards, including GASB's statements on public-private and public-public partnerships, the transition from LIBOR, and IRC Section 457 deferred compensation; the AICPA's and GAO's auditing standards developments, and the standard setters' on-going projects likely to affect issuers and auditors in the near future.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

The software industry has embraced agile methodologies for some time and lately it has been embraced by firms responsible for implementing software. Originally developed as an alternative to waterfall project management methodologies that require sequencing and identification of dependencies, agile focused on customer engagement, design affirmation, team effort, and monitoring. Lately, agile has become a “buzzword” to hide behind when tasks are late or incomplete. Project Managers are quick to report that agile permits these anomalies. Join this session as facilitators compare and contrast project management methodologies and the impact they have on your ERP project. The audience will also learn how to develop contracts that support the benefits of agile, waterfall, and hybrid approaches, while also incorporating essential public-sector best practices related to quality assurance, testing, acceptance, and payment.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

The budget process has many stakeholders and a quality budget process must engage all in a collaborative discussion about priorities, proposed services, and appropriate allocation of funding. While many finance officers understand the budget and the process used to develop it, do they also understand how other key stakeholders view it? This session will feature several department heads from non-financial positions in local government in a discussion about what makes a budget process successful. Attendees can expect to hear honest feedback on how to make a budget process more transparent, more inclusive, and more focused on allocating resources to the right programs to achieve the right results.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

As the dust settles from the recent amendments to SEC Rule 15c2-12, issuers continue to grapple with how to identify, record, and report event #15 and #16 notices. This session will include a discussion on the issuer experience managing their disclosure programs and guidance from outside professionals on the advice they provide to their governmental clients. Attendees will also be updated on changes to GFOA Best Practices and Advisories related to disclosure practices.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

GFOA member surveys repeatedly show recruiting and maintaining qualified employees is a top challenge faced by many government finance offices. As part of an overall strategy of recruitment, fringe benefits can play an important role in helping attract and retain motivated and productive employees – salary isn’t enough on its own. In fact, in one survey, 80% of employees said they would choose additional benefits over a pay raise. Employees want more benefits that address their total well-being, not just their financial well-being. In this session, speakers will present information that all governments can use to better inform benefit decisions and help sort out which benefits employees desire and which ones they don’t care about.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

For most governments, a large part of their revenues and expenditures are determined by the how land is used within the jurisdiction. However, land use planning usually happens with little consideration given to how land use choices will impact the long-term financial health of the local government. In this session, you will hear from local governments that have been working to bridge the divide between land use planning and financial planning order order to to build communities that are both livable and that have a strong financial foundation.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

GFOA encourages governments to make greater use of data when making financial decisions, but transitioning to this type of decision-making process can be daunting. What data should you use? Where and how do you get the data? What do you do with the data once you have it? How do you get staff buy-in for the new approach? At this session, hear about the steps different local governments have taken to adopt a more data-driven approach to decision-making. In addition, case studies will highlight how this approach can even work to influence decisions about how to structure services within the finance office.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 10:30am to 12:10pm

Climate change is real, but the type of change that governments will encounter related to their capital assets will likely differ. This session will explain how climate change impacts will be felt at a local level and discuss how various governments across the United States and Canada are incorporating these effects into their capital plans. Climate change presents a litany of new associated risks to a municipality’s assets to consider and finance officers must understand these implications when evaluating the vulnerability of their capital assets, such as roads and bridges, waste/storm water systems, and communication and utility systems. Presenters will detail relevant climate change adaptation policies as well as discuss setting priorities for funding. In addition, speakers will highlight innovative and creative solutions available today that governments can take advantage of to start reacting on a local level to these global environmental trends.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 1:30pm to 2:20pm

An audit committee provides an independent review and oversight of a government's financial reporting processes, internal controls, and independent auditors. GFOA's best practice guidance recommends that all governments establish an audit committee. This session will be based on GFOA's best practice statement and will provide answers to frequently asked questions on audit committees including: What should the committee do? Who should serve on the committee? How much financial knowledge is required to serve? How often should the committee meet? What is the proper level of funding for an audit committee?

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 1:30pm to 2:20pm

Ransomware attacks are becoming more frequent in government and each week we learn of additional governments that have become victim to these paralyzing hacks. While governments need to understand risks and prepare preventative strategies, they also must be prepared in the event you fall victim. Do you have a plan when you find your electronic files have become encrypted and cannot be unlocked unless you pay a ransom? Some governments have elected to give in to the criminals while other governments have decided to fight – often at great cost. Listen, as your peers and professionals in the industry discuss how to react in the even of ransomware attack, considerations for paying the ransom, other strategies you may have available to deal with this latest threat to our communities.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 1:30pm to 2:20pm

Issuing and managing debt is one of many responsibilities for the finance office. The complexities inherent in the process and limited staff resources often makes it a necessity to rely on external resources like municipal advisors, underwriters, and legal counsel to access the municipal debt market and meet the disclosure responsibilities of the Continuing Disclosure Agreement (CDA). Speakers for this session will include a panel of industry professionals to discuss what issuers should expect from those engagements and how they can be better prepared to leverage those relationships to improve their debt management programs.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 1:30pm to 2:20pm

Technology infrastructure has traditionally been left to the private sector. However, as technology becomes more integrated into our lives, it has become an indispensable utility. Citizens of communities without adequate technology infrastructure could find themselves with reduced educational and economic opportunities. This session will explore the role local government has in investing in technology infrastructure, either by encouraging private investment or through public investment.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 1:30pm to 2:20pm
Speaker
Director
Institute for Public Sector Employee Engagement

Public-sector organizations can’t succeed without talent – the right people with the right skills in the right places at the right times. This is particularly true for government financial management. But just having talented employees isn’t enough – they must also be committed and engaged. This session will cover how to measure employee engagement and then achieve a high level of engagement in your organization – in order to drive superior performance and outcomes. Attendees will learn how employee engagement improves performance and service in order to improve customer satisfaction and, ultimately, trust in government.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 2:40pm to 3:55pm

Incremental budgeting is easy, convenient, and readily accepted as a standard process in government. But is it the best approach? Incremental budgeting can make it difficult to reallocate funding based on current priority, compare funding to service levels or performance, or facilitate strategic long-term decision making. Unfortunately, many governments never test what is best because changing a key organizational process is difficult. This session will provide a plan forward using smaller (achievable) steps to build a better budget process. Speakers will discuss how they were able to initiate efforts to reform the budget process and how they overcame common challenges along the way.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 2:40pm to 3:55pm

Actuarial reporting can be complex, but is important for understanding the status of pension and OPEB plans. Speakers in this session will focus on key components of an actuarial report and will guide finance officers on how to interpret their government’s actuarial reports. In addition, speakers will address frequently asked questions about the actuarial reports to allow finance officers to better understand and explain this information to other stakeholders in the government.

Monday, May 18, 2020 - 2:40pm to 3:55pm

Since issuing GASB 87 on Leases, GASB has followed up not only with extensive implementation guidance for that statement but also with guidance on accounting and financial reporting for cloud computing and public-private (and public-public) partnerships that is explicitly based on the leases standard. This session will be an opportunity to review the authoritative literature and hear about GASB 87 from those who have begun or completed implementations. In addition, speakers will present similarities and differences between the newer guidance and lease accounting as well as provide tips that all governments can use to prepare for this next change.


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