Association of Government Accountants Professional Development Training 2020
As in years past, Management Concepts attended and exhibited at the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) Professional Development Training (PDT), but this year was unlike any other, featuring a fully virtual event complete with a virtual expo hall.
The energy level was high with inspiration and motivation exuded by keynote speakers and informative breakouts. Throughout the conference, Agile methods were frequently emphasized, especially as they related to managing during current events.
The “OMB/Treasury Update” session provided a detailed breakdown of the implementation of COVID-19 pandemic relief packages and the mixed outcomes that followed. We have not seen anything like COVID-19 in more than 100 years, and the resources of fee-funded agencies are stretched. In a rush to provide COVID-19 relief, the Treasury chose speed over accuracy in combating the effects of the shutdown on the economy as US unemployment rates rose from 3% pre-COVID-19 to 14.7% in April 2020. The total of the first round of COVID-19 aid was $2.874T, which is even more significant when compared to the $.7T efforts in 2006 related to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). One obstacle in the distribution of this volume of funds was that many states have antiquated systems and a limited number of workers.
$250M was provided for oversight for the 74 OIGs, but the Secret Service asserts that organized crime is in full swing, with the Department of Justice already issuing indictments. So far, the Treasury Department is aware of more than $1.4B that has been sent to deceased individuals.
But these issues only add to the mounting financial issues that were already facing the country. According to pre-COVID-19 projections, Medicare will only be able to pay 89 cents on the dollar by 2026; by 2034, Social Security will only be able to pay 77 cents on the dollar. Debt has risen from $23.4T before COVID-19 to $26.2T at the end of June.
There is now widespread talk of a coin shortage in the US, but according to the US Mint, this is in fact a distribution problem. Citizens are not turning in their coins, because bank lobbies are closed. Discontinuing pennies, as they have done in the 1980s in Europe and in the 1990s in the Pacific, may be the way forward in the US as well.
So, what is needed? Some potential solutions being discussed include:
- Strengthening the independence of the Inspector General
- Enhancement of Do Not Pay (DNP) databases which have saved $825M, a drop in the bucket compared to $175B in improper payments in FY19
- Improved analytics for the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act to better aid auditors, investigators, and attorneys
- 2020 updates for OMB circulars, especially A-11 and A-136
- Adoption of a two-year budget cycle
- Passage of the CFO Vision Act of 2020
With so much of our future riding on the realities of our present financial situation, financial management professionals across federal, state, and local governments shoulder a huge responsibility. In these trying times, public servants in Financial Management and members of associations such as AGA are doing their best, and that is something that should make all of us proud.
Management Concepts offers exceptional Financial Management training, to prepare financial management professionals to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
To learn more about our ongoing activities with the Association of Government Accountants, visit our partnership page.
Vera Medici is Marketing Manager, Events & Strategic Partnerships at Management Concepts. In this role, she communicates and collaborates with clients, organizations, and strategic partners. She prepares for and manages all aspects of participation at trade shows, special events, and webinars in addition to expertly managing all social media activity. Vera holds a bachelor of arts degree in communication from George Mason University.
Thanks to Phil Davidson for contributing to this blog.