Sponsored by the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis (AABPA), this group is for practitioners and academics in the fields of budget and program analysis.
Skills and Knowledge for Federal Budget/Financial Management Professionals
October 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm #143990
Good Afternoon AABPA members and friends – we are helping NASPAA (the program accreditor for MPA and MPP graduate programs) with a new project. They are working to identify knowledge and skills that graduate programs could teach that will best prepare students who intend to be federal budgeting and finance professionals. As part of that projects, they have asked AABPA members, as practitioners and hiring managers, for our thoughts.
If you have an MPA or MPP, what classes do you think best prepared you for your first job in budgeting/financial management?
If you have an MPA or MPP, what topics or issue areas did you cover in classes that you think best prepared you for your first job in budgeting/financial management?
(Some ideas may be: microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, public finance, organizational theory and behavior, project management, accounting principles, constitutional theory, database management, analysis, modeling, cost-benefit analysis, program evaluation, strategic and operational planning)
If you have an MPA or MPP, do you remember any particular project or assignment that you think really helped prepare you for your first job in budgeting/financial management?
(Some ideas may be: strategic planning, identifying performance measures, option memos for identifying savings or for expanding programs, evaluation of appropriations bills as they move through the legislature, justifying budget requests, identifying sources of data for cost estimates, revenue forecasting, modeling program costs over time, fiscal statement/ratio analysis, Interview/Questioning techniques, critically evaluating sources/quality of data, oral presentation of findings, preparing charts and budget tables)
What do you wish you had learn in your program that you didn’t learn or looking back, what do you think the program could have done better?
Regardless of your degree, from your professional experience in budgeting, what do you think entry level analyst should learn in their master’s program to best help them succeed?
October 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm #143992
"Regardless of your degree, from your professional experience in budgeting, what do you think entry level analyst should learn in their master’s program to best help them succeed?"
The most critical "skills" to have at entry level in my opinion aren't necessarily things that can be taught in a classroom, actually. If I have a new analyst, I can if necessary teach them any skill or knowledge they require--but if said new analyst doesn't have the ability to perform well under extreme and extended stress; grace under pressure and tight deadlines; ability to work long hours and respond to immediate and unpredictable requirements...I can't teach them that; they either have it or they don't, and without it, they won't succeed.
That said, in terms of skills that could potentially be polished by training or education, I suppose it depends on whether they are at the headquarters or field level; and if @ HQ, if they do formulation or execution. Doing HQ level formulation, I would specifically call out "political" skills--namely, the ability to properly respond and handle sensitive information, politically sensitive situations, etc...and perhaps even more critically the ability to independently recognize such information or situations when they come your way, without having to be told that they are--even an entry-level analyst may find themselves faced with such a situation, and needs if nothing else to be able to recognize it for what it is so as to properly pass it up the chain. Other areas that come to mind are strategic thinking/planning; ability to interpret legislation; and ability to "read" situations and predict what may or may not come from them (for example, one must be able to anticipate the type of questions that might be asked at an approps hearing in order to put together good briefing statements for leadership, etc).
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