U.S. Island Finance Officers Meet,

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GOVERNMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

June 30, 2000

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Government finance officers from U.S.-affiliated nations and territories gathered in Chicago during the week of June 11-16. Representatives were present from American Samoa, Guam, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The meeting was sponsored by the Graduate School, USDA’s Pacific and Virgin Islands Training Initiatives, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs.

The purposes of the meeting were three-fold. The first, which necessitated Chicago as the meeting site, was to attend the 94th Annual Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Conference, with its theme of "e-Volving in a Cyber-World". As delegates, the island finance officers were able to attend many of the nearly 100 professional development seminars held at the conference site, McCormick Place. The wealth of topics ranged from new Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) reporting requirements to developing performance measures to the impact of e-commerce on government operations. The attendees were especially pleased to learn about the new reporting and implementation requirements of GASB 34. The quality of the sessions was excellent and the island finance officers hope to attend next year’s GFOA conference in Philadelphia.

The second purpose was to hold a separate meeting of only the island finance officers. This gave them a forum to discuss how to make issues raised at the GFOA conference applicable to their own island environments. They were able to share common challenges and successful solutions. They also received further professional development from a seminar on team building in the finance environment.

The final reason for the gathering was to allow the island finance officers an opportunity to make this gathering a permanent relationship. Building on a discussion begun at a similar meeting on Maui, Hawai‘i, in November 1999, the group decided to form a permanent association of island finance officers. Although the formulation of the association has not yet been finalized, a decision was made to create an on-going forum to encourage professional development among insular finance officers. By-laws are in the process of being adopted, and temporary officers have been elected. The officers are President: Lucy DLG. Nielsen (CNMI); Vice-President: Bernice Turnbull (USVI); and Secretary/Treasurer: John Ehsa (FSM). Until the association is formalized, questions concerning the Insular Finance Officers Association can be directed to the Graduate School, USDA’s Pacific Training Center in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, at (808) 533-1650.

The feeling was unanimous among the participants that the same gathering be repeated next year in conjunction with the annual GFOA conference.

Lucy DLG. Nielsen Secretary of Finance CNMI Government

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