Yes! I just returned from the Association of Government Accountant’s (AGA) annual Professional Development Conference (PDC). With all the scrutiny on conference spending, I thought it would be interesting to go through a quick run down of what’s new and what’s changed since the last AGA PDC in order to help address the question of whether we still need annual training conferences such as the PDC. Below are changes in federal financial management from the last 12 months.
Let’s start with the big one, Sequestration. This time last year it was a remote possibility, unlikely to occur. This year government is implementing it.
OMB has had a particularly busy 12 months with new initiatives and requirements on:
- Financial Systems and Shared Services
- Federal Credit Programs and Non-Tax Receivables
- Improving Data Quality in Spending.Gov
- Freezing the Footprint
- Efficient Agency Spending
- And even new requirements on Acceptable Conference Spending.
Treasury has also had a busy 12 months with new requirements and guidance around:
- Payment Application Modernization
- Government-wide Treasury Account Symbols
- Common Government-wide Accounting Classification
- FMS Accounting Data Standards
The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board issued new standards in accounting for Asset Impairment.
And even Congress weighed in with issuance of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012.
The bottom line is the pace of change in financial management has never been faster as the government struggles to deal with declining budgets, greater scrutiny, and increasing citizen expectations. Sharing ideas, best practices, lessons learned and innovations at conferences like the AGA PDC are critical for financial managers to effectively respond to these challenges.
I delivered the opening comments at the AGA Professional Development Conference.
…and that’s just in the field of financial management and accounting. It would be interesting to map the changes in other roles, like HR, IT, Communications / Public Affairs, etc. Change is happening. People need to be trained on the latest developments. Sometimes that happens best in person…and I hope that is never fully replaced by online training.
At the same time, the speed of change would also suggest that people can’t wait until the annual, in-person conference to get that training. We have to be nimble and offer virtual options that can summarize and share the need-to-know-now information within weeks (or even days) of the release of new guidance and policy.