The Certified Public Finance Officer (CPFO) Program, as designed by the Executive Board of the GFOA, is being implemented by the Council on Certification, the governing body for the Program. The Certification Program contains two components: (1) five examinations to assess the body of knowledge required of a practicing public finance officer, and (2) a continuing professional education requirement. An individual who meets eligibility requirements and successfully completes the five examinations within a five-year period will be awarded the designation Certified Public Finance Officer (CPFO) and will be distinguished by using this designation on official correspondence. Once earned, the CPFO is maintained by participating in 30 hours of continuing professional education each year. An individual need not commit to taking all five examinations to benefit from participating in the program. Each examination will be of such scope and quality that passing any one of the examinations will constitute an achievement that will be recognized.
An applicant must establish eligibility to participate in the Certification Program. Information supplied on an application or as part of documentation provided to establish eligibility is considered confidential and will not be released unless authorized by the applicant. All information provided by or on behalf of an applicant is assumed to be truthful. The GFOA reserves the right to verify information supplied by or on behalf of an applicant. The GFOA does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, handicap or marital status. To participate in the Certification Program, a candidate must meet the following conditions:
- Education. A candidate must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. An official transcript reflecting the candidates degree is accepted as fulfilling this criterion. If the transcript is in a language other than English, a certified translation into English is required. An official transcript must be submitted with any application. A candidate produced photocopy is not acceptable.
- Current Employment. A candidate must have as primary employment a position with a government, or last primarily employed in government and currently unemployed and actively seeking employment in government. A candidates signature following the statement on the application fulfills this requirement.
- Employment History. A candidate must have had at least three (3) years of primary government employment during the previous ten (10) years at the time of application for each examination. A history of employment reflecting the prescribed government experience submitted on an "Employment History" form provided by the GFOA fulfills this requirement. An Employment History must be submitted with any application.
A candidate who is employed with a government must be an active member of or eligible for active membership in the GFOA at the time of application for each examination.
For the purpose of establishing eligibility for the Certification Program, an active member in the GFOA is defined as an individual who meets any of the following conditions.
For the purpose of establishing eligibility for the Certification Program, eligible for active membership in the GFOA is defined as an individual who meets either of the following conditions.
- The individual is employed by a member jurisdiction and holds a membership included in the base membership dues.
- The individual is employed by a member jurisdiction and does not hold a membership included in the base membership dues, but holds membership through payment for an additional member.
- The individual is employed by a state, provincial or federal agency, and holds membership through payment for an individual member.
- The individual is employed by a member jurisdiction, but the individual does not hold a membership included in the base membership dues or a membership through payment for an additional member.
- The individual is employed by a jurisdiction that is not a member, but the jurisdiction is eligible for membership.
- Ethics. A candidate must accept and observe the GFOA Code of Professional Ethics. A candidates signature following the statement on the application fulfills this requirement.
After 2001, each examination will be administered at least annually at the site of the annual conference of the GFOA.
Content of Examinations
A special committee was appointed for each examination to define the body of knowledge to be tested on the examination. Committees were charged with preparing "draft" inventories of the tasks performed by a practicing public finance officer. Once the lists of job responsibilities were prepared, members of the GFOAs standing committees were asked to review inventories for completeness and to rate responsibilities by relative importance. Results of these surveys serve as the basis for specifications for Certification Examinations. Each edition of a Certification Examination is constructed in accordance with examination specifications that list topics to be covered and assign numbers of examination items to topics. Presented in outline form, examination specifications ensure that the character of the examination remains consistent from one edition to the next. Examination specifications for the available examinations appear in the appendices for this Guide. Specifications for other Certification Examinations will be finalized and made available before examinations are introduced. Examination items on financial management, technology and ethics will appear on all five Certification Examinations.
Examination items are based on approved reading lists. Reading lists for available examinations appear in the appendices of this Guide. Each examination is composed of 175 multiple-choice items presented in the English language. A multiple-choice item consists of a stem, which poses a problem, and possible answers. Only one possible answer is correct or best. For GFOA Certification Examinations, each item has four or five possible answers. Sample items for available examinations appear in the appendices of this Guide.
For More Information and Application