Approximately 5,375 delegates, guests, and exhibitors participated in GFOAs 109th Annual Conference, Innovation and Resilience, including 363 first-time conference attendee scholarship recipients. The conference was held May 31-June 3,2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At the conference's opening general session, GFOA President Bob Eichem discussed the importance of resiliency in government and the accomplishments of GFOA's taskforce on resilience over the past year. His core takeaway was that "resilient governments accept the uncertainty of change, learn from past experiences, evolve, and come back from misfortunes better than they were before." Eichem concluded his speech by highlighting two common traits he noticed in the public finance professionals he met over the year of his presidency: 1) "We solve problems and relish the opportunity to do so," and 2) "We greatly enjoy what we do for the public, our communities, and our organizations." (You can watch the video of Eichem's speech at www.gfoa.org/gfoa-2015-annualconference-speeches.) For steps on making your own organization more resilient, refer to the April 2015 issue of Government Finance Review--available at www.gfoa.org/GFR--which features a number of articles highlighting the taskforce's work.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS ARE GOOD INVESTMENTS
John C. Bogle, founder and former CEO of The Vanguard Group, president of the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center, and best-selling author, participated in a discussion with moderator Joe Mysak, editor of the daily Bloomberg Brief, during Monday's opening general session. Responding to questions from Mysak and GFOA delegates, Bogle shared his experiences and viewpoints on topics including the outlook for pension funds, whether public pension funds can beat an average rate of return in pension investing, why public pension bonds are a bad idea, and active versus passive investing. Bogle also discussed municipal bankruptcies, noting that he believes in the strength of the municipal market and thinks that, as a whole, local governments are good investments for bond buyers because they are well managed. (A summary of Bogle's speech is available at http://www.gfoa.org/oracle-philadelphia.)
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter addressed GFOA conference delegates at Tuesday morning's general session with a presentation on technology and innovation in a changing Philadelphia. Nutter provided advice for new mayors (and other leaders), emphasizing the "need to make the right decisions, even though they may not be the popular decisions." Philadelphia was able to effect positive change by redefining goals, modernizing technology, and working together, Nutter said, emphasizing the importance of having a plan (articulate the better future you want to create); staying the course (the details of good governance don't take care of themselves; you need to work at it); sticking to the plan (be consistent, but have a backup strategy for when things don't go as expected); and communicating how the plan is working (most citizens aren't very interested in the workings of local government, so communicate what you're doing, often, and in a variety of ways).
ADDRESSING TODAY'S MOST IMPORTANT TOPICS
With 57 concurrent sessions, GFOA's...