The Island Government Finance Officers Association (IGFOA) concluded their second virtual meeting this month from March 23 to March 24, 2021. The IGFOA winter conference convened around 70 finance officers and government finance officials from the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), as well as the Freely Associated States, which includes the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. The IGFOA is supported by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, through the Graduate School USA’s Pacific and Virgin Islands Training Initiatives (PITI-VITI).
“Throughout my years with the Department of the Interior it has been a privilege to join the Island Government Finance Officers' Association meetings.”
- Acting Assistant Secretary Nikolao Pula
“Throughout my years with the Department of the Interior it has been a privilege to join the Island Government Finance Association meetings, and I know one of the themes of your work is accountability,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Pula in his welcoming remarks to participants. “The impact of your work is felt by all governments and communities, especially during this pandemic, and I am grateful for the opportunity to look towards the future together.”
Delivering welcoming remarks on behalf of IGFOA participants, Guam Director of Administration Edward Birn praised each of the insular area governments for adapting to the world of virtual meetings and for taking advantage of the resources provided by the Department of the Interior to stay connected. He remarked that there is no other organization like IGFOA, with its focus on emerging issues relevant to insular finance offices. He encouraged participants to take full advantage of our time together.
The agenda for the virtual IGFOA meeting focused on the release of FY2019 audits, which a majority of jurisdictions delivered within the extended 15 month deadline for 2020. The Graduate School USA presented a regional analysis of audit findings, highlighting recent trends. The insular governments have achieved improvements to the quality of their audits. Over the last 10 years the number of financial statement and federal compliance modifications (previously called ‘qualifications’) have declined by half, from a total of 60 to 31. While the overall number of audit opinion modifications has declined, an analysis of the types of audit findings occurring across the insular areas reveals that basic financial statement reconciliations and procurement violations continue to be significant issues. The amount of questioned costs were relatively low in FY2019 for most of the insular governments, with larger questioned cost amounts relating to subgrantee monitoring and procurement.
FY19 Performeter scores, which highlight each insular government’s overall financial position, financial performance, and financial capability, were also presented to participants. The Performeter is utilized across all of the insular governments to improve public awareness of each government’s fiscal health. It now provides over fifteen years of trend data for each insular area.
IGFOA participants will reconvene to attend the virtual conference of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), along with finance officers representing various federal, state, and local governments of the United States and Canada, from July 12 to July 23, 2021. The IGFOA is scheduled to meet virtually in July—both before and after the GFOA conference—to discuss session content and follow-up activities in the insular governments.
Funded through the Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program, the IGFOA is comprised of government finance officials from the U.S. territories and the Freely Associated States and works to build the local capacity of their respective government finance offices through biannual meetings that provide technical training and strategic support in public finance.