Top 3 things I Learned at AABPA’s Fall Symposium 2011

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis (AABPA) Fall Symposium which was held at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. I had a wonderful time meeting and learning from budgeteers and experts from around the nation.

The best part of the symposium for me was having the opportunity to hear about the results of AABPA’s first survey, The Road Forward: The Federal Budget and Budgeting Profession at the lunch plenary session.

In case you missed it, here are the Top 3 things I took away:

1. Budgeteers love what they do: I was inspired to hear from a group of government workers who genuinely love what they do each day. According to AABPA’s survey results, 71% of respondents said that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their job. When asked about job satisfaction during the symposium luncheon, audience members said that they love knowing that what they do makes an impact on their entire agency. One budgeteer simply stated “I like budgeting!”

2. Technology is important, but difficult and scary to implement. Technology is becoming more and more essential to the budgeting process. Automated budgeting systems will make data easier to manage and will save our analysts from working until the early hours of the morning to complete tasks. However, there are many impediments when it comes to the implementation of technology into the budgeting system. Budgeting systems are still in their infancy, and many argue that the heart of a budget is the justification, which is not easily supported by automated tools.

Other concerns are:

Money, Money, Money: There is a fear that new technology is too expensive.
Time: There isn’t enough of it to create a new process and train analysts.
Planning: There have been many failed attempts in the past to deploy technology into the budgeting system due to a lack of planning.
Fear of the Unknown: Some budgeteers think that the old system is just fine and are concerned about the loss of jobs that could come from automated systems.

3. Agencies want well rounded analysts: The most obvious and important skills needed to be an analyst are analytical skills and the ability to think critically. The ability to analyze written data in addition to numerical data has proven to be essential. Symposium attendees also added that they would like to see new hires with an understanding of their particular program and its needs as well as an education in policy.

AABPA’s Fall Symposium was a wonderful event to attend and I enjoyed diving deeper into these survey results. I’m very excited to see what the road forward looks like!

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Amanda Parker

Another great discussion of the survey results from Thad Juszczak, director in Grant Thornton’s Global Public Sector practice, on Federal News Radio here.