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Friday, May 16, 2008

Agencies should improve financial management workforce planning, report finds

Technological and demographic changes are driving a major shift in the federal financial management workforce, and agencies must do a better job preparing for future needs, according to a study conducted by the Association of Government Accountants and Management Concepts, a Washington-based professional services firm.

The report, "21st Century Federal Financial Managers: A New Mix of Skills and Educational Levels?" said technology has reduced reliance on manual processes and remaining positions require a better-educated workforce.

Specifically, the report cites increasing demand for people able to provide analysis that supports executive decision-making. The need stems from new reporting requirements from the Office of Management and Budget and pressure from lawmakers to provide program outcomes and measures. "All three major federal financial management positions -- accountant, budget analyst, and management and financial analyst --require analytical and decision-support competencies," the report noted.

While agencies are conducting workforce planning, most are failing to identify competency gaps and develop strategies to make sure they have enough people with the right skills -- and they won't be able to count on recent college graduates filling the gap. The study found that schools generally are not teaching basic federal budgeting, accounting and program concepts, and college graduates often lack understanding of federal appropriations law and the government's accounting and budget process.

-Katherine McIntire Peters, GovExec.com

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