Winter 2013
Issue Map
The Public Manager

Effective Programs by the Numbers

It's no coincidence that accounting and accountability are related. In government, it's all about the numbers—and the story they tell.


The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) recently selected accountants at the local, state, and federal levels to receive its Outstanding CPA in Government Impact Award. The award recognizes contributions to significantly increase efficiency and effectiveness of government organizations. "They are among the most influential leaders practicing government accounting and auditing," commented Richard Caturano, chairman of the AICPA's board of directors.

The Public Manager asked two of those winners about the role of accounting in promoting efficiency and effectiveness in public management, and how they have pushed for accountability.

Alfredo Riverol
Chief Financial Officer
Finance Department, City of South Miami

Like many government managers, I believe my department's role is the most critical. Government is multi-faceted, with layers of infrastructure. Accounting is what brings it all together. You can't do a public safety program, for example, if you don't have the funds.

Without proper budgeting and reallocation of limited resources—especially in these days of scarce funds—government programs don't happen. We juggle different city services to get a good balance in government.

Each of our department directors is passionate about their programs. When I meet with them, they say, "I need…" It's not a wish list; it's a need list. I work closely with our city manger, the link to legislators, to go over the budget. What can we move to another fiscal year? How can this program be handled differently? It's a balancing act, and without mutual respect it would be a fiasco.


Jennifer Coleman
Lead Accountant/CPA
U.S. Department of Energy, New Orleans

Accounting helps ensure that government financial data is reported accurately to internal management and external users of government information. To make viable decisions, one has to have valid data. It has to be timely and accurate to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall accounting and reporting process.

I have pushed for accountability by educating the users of our financial data. It's not enough to just look at a report and numbers. I help users of financial data understand what the numbers mean and how the numbers in a report relate to each other and to the financial performance of an organization.

The numbers should tell the story of the financial events that took place during the fiscal year. And the numbers should align with the goals and objectives that managers set for a particular fiscal year.

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