Interior Supports Fiscal Accountability in Island Areas through Insular Government Finance Officers Association

Finance Officers from Insular Areas Participate in Summer 2019 Meeting

6/6/2019
Last edited 11/30/2020

Tanya Harris Joshua 202-208-6008

Tanya_Joshua@ios.doi.gov

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Doug Domenech and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) supported the summer meeting of the Island Government Finance Officers Association (IGFOA) that convened in Los Angeles, California, from May 17-23. The IGFOA meets twice yearly, once in the winter and once in the summer, to provide technical and strategic support to finance officers from American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

“Fiscal accountability is critical to the success of our island area governments,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “Interior is pleased to support the IGFOA conferences hosted by Graduate School USA. These events build and develop the expertise and knowledge necessary for island leaders to govern and lead the islands more effectively.”

Forty-nine government officials from each of the U.S.-affiliated island jurisdictions attended the IGFOA Conference, with nearly half of the participants indicating this was their first time to attend a summer GFOA conference. The IGFOA was especially pleased to welcome representatives of new insular government administrations including: David Atalig, the CNMI Secretary of Finance; Kirk Callwood, the USVI Commissioner of Finance; Jenifer O’Neal, the USVI Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Gabriel Ramoloilug, Director of the Yap Department of Administration. Three elected officials from the Palau legislature also attended.

During the IGFOA summer meeting, participants also attended the three-day Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) conference, alongside 8,000 finance officers representing various federal, state, and local governments of the United States and Canada. While larger GFOA conference sessions inform the insular governments of emerging standards and national trends in public finance, the smaller IGFOA focuses on practical implementation in island areas. Each insular government’s administration and accounting responsibilities include all the services that typically are handled by U.S. state, county, and city governments, such as schools, public safety, roads, airports and seaports, hospitals, utilities, retirement plans, development authorities, tourism boards, embassies, and immigration, to name a few. 

For the first time, the executive director of the larger Government Finance Officers Association, Chris Morrill, participated in discussions with the insular government finance officers and highlighted several institutional initiatives of the GFOA, including best practices in government finance and best practices in school budgeting. He also discussed GFOA awards for excellence in financial reporting, and his renewed focus on establishing a GFOA Code of Professional Ethics, as well as training, research, and advocacy services offered by the organization.

Additional IGFOA workshop and discussion topics throughout the week included:

  • Recovery from disasters - ensuring business continuity while rebuilding;
  • Preparation for GASB changes to accounting for financial activities and leases;
  • Government innovation and process improvement;
  • Reviewing finance office performance measures;
  • Addressing unfunded pension liabilities and other post-employment benefits;
  • Enhancing financial transparency through citizen-centric reporting and strategic utilization of social media;
  • Preparing for future cybersecurity needs;
  • Implementing Enterprise Resource Planning and Financial Management Information Systems;
  • Addressing human resource needs from recruitment to onboarding; and
  • Ensuring banking services are transparent and secure.

The IGFOA concluded with each insular government presenting an action plan summarizing their commitments to bring conference topics home for implementation. CNMI Finance Secretary Atalig delivered closing remarks, sharing his positive impressions of the quality of the conference, encouraging participants to implement their action plans in their home islands, and encouraging fellow participants to prepare for follow-up discussions this winter. The IGFOA will reconvene in Hawaii in December.

Additional information on the IGFOA and the Pacific & Virgin Islands Training Initiatives can be found online at http://www.pitiviti.org. Financial assistance for the IGFOA is provided through the Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program.

See caption
Participants of the IGFOA Summer 2019 Meeting in Los Angeles. Courtesy photo.
GFOAE Director Chris Morrill
Government Finance Officers Association Executive Director Chris Morrill addresses the participants of the Island Government Finance Officers Association. Courtesy photo.
U.S.V.I. Commissioner of Finance Kirk Callwood
Kirk Callwood, the U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Finance participates in the IGFOA Summer 2019 Meeting in Los Angeles. Courtesy photo
Carri-Lee Magalei
Participant Carri-Lee Magalei, from American Samoa, provides an overview of the IGFOA at the Summer 2019 Meeting in Los Angeles. Courtesy photo.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

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