Each year at GFOAs annual conference, the association president asks the international delegations in attendance to stand and be recognized. Delegations from many countries have attended, including China, Thailand, Germany, and Brazil. The GFOA has formal affiliation agreements with associations from Sweden, South Africa, Israel, and Georgia. Traditionally, GFOA reciprocates with its affiliated associations by sending a representative to their annual conferences, thus helping build and maintain these relationships.
The participation of international delegates broadens GFOA's reach and stature, while recognizing that developing effective government finance practices isn't limited to the United States and Canada. Despite significant legal, institutional, and language differences among countries, we share a common bond when it comes to public service, financial management, and transparency. And with a movement toward International Financial Reporting Standards and implementation of asset management strategies developed in countries like Australia and New Zealand serving as the international standard, we may find that we have more in common than ever before.
Most of GFOA's long-standing affiliation agreements are with international associations that are mature with respect to their organizations and the mission and role they play in serving their members. This was not the case, however, with the most recent affiliation agreement with the country of Georgia. In this case, the association was more in the form of a blank canvas with the potential to evolve if presented with opportunities to learn and exchange ideas with more developed associations, including GFOA. The Georgia association also benefited from some unique relationships that exposed key members to GFOA at a critical time in its development. Consequently, GFOA has served both as a model and a mentor in the growth and development of the Georgia association. This expands on the traditional relationship GFOA has with its international partners, underscoring the value that can be provided to countries that are looking to establish a professional association that can grow and develop the financial management capacity of its members.
The remainder of this article discusses the unique role GFOA has played with its counterpart organization in Georgia, and the successes it now enjoys as a result.
GEORGIA ON OUR MINDS
When Tim Grewe retired from the City of Portland as its Chief Administrative Officer and Director of the Office of Management and Finance in 2006, he decided to pursue a long-standing professional interest in working internationally on projects focusing on building financial capacity within developing countries. That interest was met with an opportunity to work internationally as an advisor to the Republic of Georgia Ministry of Finance Tbilisi, Georgia, commencing in October 2006 with a focus on assisting in improving...