GFOA Programs

Certification Program (CPFO)

The Certified Public Finance Officers Program (Certification Program) of GFOA is a broad educational self-study program designed to verify knowledge in the disciplines of government finance. The Certification Program is governed by the Council on Certification. Technical and administrative support for the program is provided by Radford University's Governmental and Nonprofit Assistance Center.

To earn the designation of Certified Public Finance Officer (CPFO), candidates must pass a series of five examinations covering the major disciplines of public finance. A candidate has seven years in which to successfully complete the program. Once earned, the CPFO designation is maintained by participating in 30 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each year or 60 hours of CPE credit if the CPFO files over a two year period.

While GFOA certifies that an individual who passes one or more of GFOA’s certification examinations demonstrates certain competencies, GFOA withholds an opinion as to the capabilities of any individual to successfully perform in a given position. GFOA encourages prospective employers and employees to share information regarding the requirements of the position and the capabilities of the candidate in a forthright manner to promote sound employment and professional decisions.

Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program)

The GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program) in 1945 to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. The goal of the program is not to assess the financial health of participating governments, but rather to ensure that users of their financial statements have the information they need to do so themselves.

Reports submitted to the CAFR program are reviewed by selected members of the GFOA professional staff and the GFOA Special Review Committee (SRC), which comprises individuals with expertise in public sector financial reporting and includes financial statement preparers, independent auditors, academics, and other finance professionals.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award Program (Budget Awards Program)

The GFOA established the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program (Budget Awards Program) in 1984 to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal.

Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award Program (PAFR Program)

The GFOA established the Popular Annual Financial Reporting Awards Program (PAFR Program) in 1991 to encourage and assist state and local governments to extract information from their comprehensive annual financial report to produce high quality popular annual financial reports specifically designed to be readily accessible and easily understandable to the general public and other interested parties without a background in public finance and then to recognize individual governments that are successful in achieving that goal.

Awards for Excellence in Government Finance

The GFOA's Awards for Excellence in Government Finance recognize innovative programs – contributions to the practice of government finance that exemplify outstanding financial management. The awards stress practical, documented work that offers leadership to the profession and promotes improved public finance. Entries may be submitted for consideration in any of the following Award for Excellence categories:

  • AFE Award Accounting, auditing, and financial reporting
  • Budgeting and financial planning
  • Capital finance and debt administration
  • Economic development and capital planning
  • E-Government and technology
  • Management and service delivery
  • Pensions and benefits
  • Treasury and investment management

Award Program for Small Government Cash Basis Reports

The Award Program for Small Government Cash Basis Reports is designed for the thousands of small governments for which financial reporting in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) is not a viable option. Read more.

Award for Best Practices in School Budgeting

GFOA is a leader in developing, communicating, and encouraging best practice implementation in budgeting and financial planning. GFOA’'s most recent project is to enhance the existing Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for school districts and community colleges. Through this project and with the help of some of the best minds in the field, GFOA developed best practices for resource alignment to student outcomes, as well as criteria by which districts and colleges can demonstrate budget process excellence. GFOA continues to observe the outputs in practice through a number of pilot projects in order to test the best practices and award criteria and most recently formed the Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting for school districts.