Last week I had the opportunity to attend the AABPA Symposium which was held at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. The theme of the symposium was “From the Budget Act to the Recovery Act: A Balancing Act.”
Now, I’ve grown up in a family of financial gurus. Not only do my family members keep up with the latest trends and changes to the federal budgetting system and economic status, but they are tax pros. Somehow, I did not inherit this knowledge and went into the symposium not knowing what to expect. I actually learned a great deal from the experts that I had the opportunity to listen to, and gained a huge amount of respect for those who serve our nation and take care of our finances.
The morning began with a speech given by Danny Werfel, Controller for Federal Financial Management of the Office of Management and Budget. This was the best part of my symposium experience because of the knowledge I gained about financial process and legislation.
Werfel touched on the CFO Act, and what has changed since the act was put into place. He mentioned how hard the CFO’s and financial committees worked at the end of this fiscal year to produce financial reports. “It’s hard work.” This season, workers were spending their weekends at the office, and emails were being sent out at 3am. In Werfel’s eyes, we need to get to a place where putting together financial reports is more routine and less hectic.
The most informative part of Danny Werfel’s talk was his addressing of improper payments. These payments occur when the government gives money to the wrong person, at the wrong time, or for the wrong amount. Now, obviously, this is bound to happen, but Werfel reported that last year, $125 billion was spent in improper payments. “More needs to be done.” Werfel discussed the executive orders written (3 in 8 months) in order to prevent and recapture improper payments. President Obama set a goal to double recoveries by 2012.
Due to legislation such as the Recovery Act, this year the payment error rate decreased and recoveries were tripled ($687 million recovered). WOW! I don’t know about you, but that certainly makes me happy!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the AABPA symposium and listening to Danny Werfel speak. I learned a great deal about our financial system and how dedicated our public servants in this sector are. For more information about AABPA, visit their website at http://www.aabpa.org/.