Writer: Roger Nielsen
Over 80 finance and budget employees were recognized recently as the first group of Georgia Department of Transportation personnel to successfully complete the Institute of Government’s Budget and Financial Management Certification Program.
The eight-course certification program offers government finance managers the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how the state’s financial management cycle works and also helps prepare participants to move into leadership positions.
Eighty-six GDOT employees were awarded certificates at a graduation ceremony with Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry and Institute faculty. Another 20 or so finance officers are finishing up coursework and are expected to receive certificates in 2018.
Almost all of GDOT’s budget and finance-related employees were enrolled in the program through a contract the department arranged to enhance employees’ professional skills, according to Institute faculty member Dave Lakly, who organized the eight-course program for GDOT.
“Commissioner McMurry spoke at the graduation about how he really wanted to invest in his employees. A lot of agencies will enroll people in our Budget and Financial Management program, but very few will send so many employees from all levels,” Lakly said.
More than 130 of the department’s finance officers enrolled in at least some of the courses at the urging of GDOT Finance Director Connie Steele, a member of the Institute’s Financial Management Program Training Advisory Committee. The committee, comprised of finance officials with state agencies, provides advice and feedback on Institute training programs.
“I gained a wealth of knowledge on many topics covered in the program that I had not learned over my 33-year career,” Steele said. “I often find myself referring back to the training materials to revisit topics that come up in day-to-day work duties.”
Dawn Maddox, quality assurance compliance officer with GDOT’s procurement office, found the program challenging but very helpful in providing a better understanding of the state’s budget and financial structure. “I have worked in practically all phases in the fiscal accounting areas of the Georgia Department of Transportation, and this has enabled me to tie them all together. It is an awesome program with excellent instructors,” she said.
Institute faculty developed the certification program in collaboration with subject matter experts with several state finance agencies and began offering courses in 2015.