4 GFOA Best Practices for Your Budget: Operations Guide

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The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)’s new criteria for government budgeting was created keeping in mind the ongoing digital transformation. Since most of the budget communications are now taking place outside of the budget document and shifting towards digital platforms, it is imperative that governments adapt sooner than later.

This change in budgeting processes will not only provide a seamless experience when it comes to public sector budgeting but also help improve accuracy in the long run. Additionally, digitizing the budgeting process will allow governments to ensure utmost transparency and accuracy.

We will break these criteria down in detail, with particular focus on the mandatory components of each:

  1. Policy Document
  2. Financial Plan
  3. Operations Guide
  4. Communications Tool

For this blog, we’ll focus on compiling your operations guide. Your operations guide must include these four components:




Organization Chart

 What’s it all about?

This criterion requires that a legible organization chart be presented for the overall agency. Organization charts for individual units are not required.

How to put it into practice?

  • Provide an organization chart for your entire entity.
  • When organization charts are provided for individual units within your agency, those charts should be presented in a way that underscores the link between the individual unit and the overall entity.
  • Explain how the organization structure helps in achieving your agency’s goals.

Pro Tip – Questica Budget Book’s GFOA-award compliant layout includes organizational charts that you can use to inform your ultimate organization chart.



Position Summary Schedule

What’s it all about?

Here, it’s required to present position counts or full-time equivalents (FTEs) within your agency. The presentation may be by position and/or by summaries of positions.

How to put it into practice?

  • Provide a schedule or summary table of personnel or position counts for prior, current, and budgeted years.
  • If presented, position counts on the departmental summaries should tie to the consolidated position count schedule for your agency as a whole.

Pro Tip – Questica Budget’s Personnel Planning and Budgeting module can automatically prepare these position summary schedules and reports. You can allocate positions either by FTE, percentage, and/or number of hours.



Departmental/Program Description

What’s it all about?

This criterion requires a clear presentation of your agency’s organizational/departmental programs. A narrative description of the assigned services, functions, programs, and activities of organizational units should be included.

How to put it into practice?

  • Include departmental/program descriptions and address major priorities within each 1 organizational unit.

Pro Tip – Questica Budget provides configurable input fields for unlimited text to be able to capture departmental and program descriptions and hierarchies. These are automatically integrated with Questica’s OpenBook digital portal, which allows for easy communication with constituents.



Performance measures

What’s it all about?

Performance measures should include the outputs of individual departments or programs and provide a meaningful way to assess their effectiveness and efficiency.


How to put it into practice?

  • Provide objective measures of progress toward accomplishing your government’s mission as well as goals and objectives for specific departments and programs.
  • The measures should be related to the mission, goals, and objectives of each department or program.
  • Include information for at least three years (the prior year actual, current year estimate or budget, and budget year).
  • Present anticipated results.

Pro Tip – Did you know that Questica Budget’s Performance system allows you to track an unlimited number of budget and non-budget performance indicators (KPI’s) to measure success?


Want to learn more? Download our free playbook “4 Ways the Pandemic Has Force Governments to Rethink Budgeting.”