It is apparent that CFOs have been inducted into an era of persistent disruption. The 2018-2019 government shutdown was just one proof of the need to adapt to a constantly changing environment and respond to increasing demands for more efficient operations and more sophisticated analytics.
In its annual survey of government CFOs, the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) focused on the evolution of roles and CFOs’ view about proper skill sets and tools needed to innovate to meet impending challenges. The AGA, with the support of Grant Thornton, published the 2018 survey findings in the report, Beyond Disruption: Maximizing CFO Tools in the New Reality
Among the key findings:
- CFOs ranked evidence-based decision-making at the top of their list of positive impacts that changes would have on their agency’s culture.
- Agency leaders are becoming more reliant on CFOs to leverage the vast amounts of financial data and analytical tools to provide input to critical decisions made at the highest levels of the organization.
- While their relationships with other CXOs is important, CFOs noted the more acute need to work closely with agency CIOs, given the increasingly critical role CIOs play in supporting agency missions, and shaping agency budgets and technology implementation priorities.
- CFOs said their greatest current challenges are finan¬cial systems/IT, human capital and budget uncertainty.
Survey respondents consistently referred to the need for themselves and staff to adapt to changing requirements and the critical lack of necessary skills to meet future needs. They expressed concern that they can’t transform their offices fast enough to meet those needs. They agree that they must know how to combine financial and performance data to determine program status and results achieved, support strategic decision-making, and direct resources to analysis vs. transaction processing.
But 60% of respondents said at least half of the current CFO workforce is still focused on processing transactions. Only 16% said current staff is largely focused on analytical work. To address the resource challenge, CFOs are relying more than before on shared services and further exploring robotic process automation. Though still in the early stages of acceptance, robotics have been deployed across defense and civilian agencies — most often for redundant, well-documented activities such as invoice and claims processing, freeing up resources for higher order activities such as analytics.
the report to see what is concerning government CFOs and the approaches they’re taking to address their major challenges.