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216 Conference Update
By Dan Smith, ABFM Chair-Elect & Conference Chair

It’s that time again! We look forward to receiving your paper or panel proposal long before you file your taxes on April 15th. In the meantime, we are working on plenary sessions we believe you will find interesting and useful to your own research and practice.

We are lucky to call the energetic city of Seattle our conference home in 2016, and we are doubly lucky to be working with an outstanding host committee in the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at The University of Washington. We look forward to sharing more details on the conference with you in the spring.
JUST ANNOUNCED! Pre-Conference Symposium on Public Budgeting & Financial Management in Asia, October 5th; Proposal Deadline March 31st

The Journal Chinese Public Administration Review (CPAR), China-America Association for Public Affairs (CAAPA) and The Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM) invite you to submit a panel or paper proposal for the 2016 pre-ABFM Symposium on Public Budgeting and Financial Management in Asia.

Over the past decade, the field of public budgeting and finance has witnessed a growing number of scholars who are interested in comparative studies between US and various countries in Asia.  With the rise of globalization, American and Asian scholars would both benefit for exchanging research ideas and practical experience on a platform. This year, three partners, CPAR—the official Journal of the Section on Chinese Public Administration of American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), CAAPA – an association established to foster research collaboration and academic exchanges between China and the U.S, and ABFM---the leading US association on budgeting and financial management, are joining forces to provide this platform for international dialogue on theories and practices on public budgeting and finance. The symposium will be hosted at the campus of the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington, ranked by the U.S. News & World Report as the most innovative public school among the top public affairs schools in 2015. Practitioners as well as academics are encouraged to submit proposals. Topics include but are not limited to the list below.
  • National and Subnational Fiscal Challenges
  • Budget Balancing Strategies
  • Tax Policy & Administration
  • Executive & Legislative Budget Politics
  • Budget Reform, Innovation & Process
  • Intergovernmental Finance
  • Performance Budgeting
  • Debt Financing & Management
  • Capital Budgeting
  • Pension Management
  • Accounting & Financial Reporting
  • Nonprofit Financial Issues
  • Managing Financial Risk
  • Budgetary Theory
  • Comparative Budgeting
  • Citizen Participation in Budgeting
  • Current Trends in Public Finance
  • Budgeting in Specific Policy Areas (such as transportation, housing, education and etc.)
Submission Details:  The deadline for paper or panel proposal submissions is March 31, 2016. Proposals should be submitted directly to Professor Lu of City University of New York (cparsubmission@gmail.com) and Professor Zhao of University of Minnesota (zhaozhirong@gmail.com). Please include in the subject line: SYMPOSIUM ON PUBLIC BUDGETING AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT IN ASIA. Both CPAR and CAAPA will review and competitively select proposals. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by April 30, 2016. Authors whose proposals have been selected will then be required to submit full-length manuscripts by August 1, 2016 to CPAR. Please send all manuscripts via email to the CPAR Editorial Team at: cparsubmission@gmail.com.  The manuscripts shall be original, unpublished work, and not under review elsewhere. Manuscripts will then be sent out for blind peer review under the journal’s normal rigorous standards. Manuscripts should follow the style guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 6th edition.
Chair's Column
By Carolyn Bourdeaux, ABFM Chair

Friends,I hope your 2016 has gotten off to a good start. We have a few quick ABFM business items to report:

First, the intensive planning for ABFM 2016 in Seattle has begun. You should have received the Call for Proposals. The deadline is April 15th.

Next, many thanks to those of you who filled out the ABFM 2015 conference follow-up survey.  Key takeaways were that most of our processes worked well: panels and plenaries were well received, registration and payment worked well for most people, and our existing submission requirements reflect member priorities (abstract prior to conference, paper for conference). Items where feedback was somewhat more negative: the food could stand some improvement and there was definitely no support for late Saturday afternoon panels… duly noted.

Some new ideas that garnered strong support included:

  • A best paper award in the conference
  • Facilitating publication of selected papers in a journal

Overall, the survey results have provided us with insight on what to keep and how to improve future conferences.

Our main non-conference initiative this year is to once again assess ABFM membership. The ABFM conference is quite strong – we had some of the highest attendance on record in 2015, and financially, we are in excellent shape. However, membership in ASPA continues to decline, and ABFM’s overall membership appears to be following ASPAs trajectory.

We have convened a membership committee, chaired by Mark Robbins (University of Connecticut) with Wei Yusuf (Old Dominion University) and Jerry Zhao (University of Minnesota). They just completed the conference survey and are now working on a more in-depth analysis of who is leaving and why. Given that the conference is strong and growing but overall membership is declining, one hypothesis is that we are largely losing members who are ASPA-oriented but who also sign up for various section memberships as a secondary priority. Thoughts or comments about this issue are welcome!

Hope you have a lovely spring semester!

GASB Accepting Proposals for 2016 Crain Research Grant, Deadline May 31st
By Kenneth Hunter

This summer, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) will award two, $5,000 grants for academic research efforts aiding their efforts to set the best standards for state and local financial management.

The 2016 Gil Grain Memorial Research Grants will fund projects providing benefit to GASB as it investigates developing standards on the important, emerging topics of present value and indicators of severe financial stress.

"Present value-related issues have been raised as part of nearly every GASB Statement that contains measurement guidance," stated in a recent GASB relesase. "This topic is important as long as elements of financial statements are required to be reported at fair value or settlement value."

"The primary objective of this research would be to provide the GASB with a foundation on which to conduct additional research or to consider the establishment of concepts or standards for the use of present value."

Investigations on present value include consideration of instances where it should be required or discussed, the objective of measuring present value for financial reporting, and when its application and disclosure are appropriate.

Funded research on present value would need to match a proposed timetable, with preliminary findings presented to GASB staff in April 2017.

Additional interest and welcoming of proposals involving research on severe fiscal stress tied to recent GASB efforts to better adapt standards for going concern disclosures first developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and implemented by GASB in Statement Number 56. Subsequent research, including study funded by an earlier Crain Grant, recognizes concern regarding application of these standards to the public finance field.

"The GASB is seeking proposals for the next phase of this research, the purpose of which is to conduct a statistical evaluation of the effectiveness of potential financial, economic, and demographic indicators in predicting severe financial stress. This part of the research would build on the findings of the earlier research by the GASB and others regarding (1) the indicators currently in use by financial monitoring programs and financial statement users and (2) the usefulness of those indicators for identifying governments that are in or on a path toward severe financial stress."

The plan for Crain-funded project on severe fiscal stress is an eight-month collaboration. GASB staff, for example, might collect financial reports and perform financial data entry. A preliminary timeline proposes presentation of a final research report by the end of February 2017.

Click here for the complete request for proposals. Requests for research funding are due to David Bean, GASB Director of Research and Technical Activities, by May 31, 2016. Requests should follow the guidelines established in the request for proposals, attached as a Microsoft Word document in an email to drbean@gasb.org.

Researchers should direct any questions regarding the Gil Crain Memorial Research Grant to Dean Mead, GASB Research Manager, at (203) 956-5294 or dmmead@gasb.org. Recipients of Crain Grants will be notified by the end of June 2016.
Statement establishes Principles for p-Value Use
By Kenneth Hunter

On March 7th, the American Statistical Association (ASA) announced its release of six principles intended to provide common framework for the use and interpretation of the p-value, and establishing the means for consistency in determining the statistical significance of quantitative research.

The ASA's "Statement on Statistical Significance and p-Values" includes six principles for application of p-values in scientific research as a response to the increased utilization of large data sets and wider panels of variables, emphasizing the importance for utilizing appropriate techniques and applying responsible interpretation.

The statement identifies how appropriate application of statistical significance "emphasizes principles of good study design and conduct" in all manner of research, as well as underscores its specific role within scientific research as a whole.

"The p-value was never intended to be a substitute for scientific reasoning," said ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein. "Well-reasoned statistical arguments contain much more than the value of a single number and whether that number exceeds an arbitrary threshold."

The impetus for the statement, according to a preface drafted by Wasserstein and Nicole A. Lazar, is tied to growing concern within the scientific research community over the inappropriate use of the p-value measure as applied to the interpretation of research results. Recent commentaries in research journals across multiple disciplines, including the well-known and popularly-read journal Nature, questioned the utilization of statistical significance by researchers, especially those with a limited understanding of empirical analysis.

For academics working on work for publication, today's environment creates additional challenges.

"Over time it appears the p-value has become a gatekeeper for whether work is publishable, at least in some fields," said ASA President Jessica Utts. "This apparent editorial bias leads to the 'file-drawer effect,' in which research with statistically significant outcomes are much more likely to get published, while other work that might well be just as important scientifically is never seen in print."

The six principles identified in the statement emphasize the limits of applying statistical significance with respect to a given work of research. The first principle specifies what a p-value can measure "how incompatible the data (within the study) are with a specified statistical model." Typically, this is a test of confidence the results are not the result of chance, as compared to the potential for no statistical effect (null hypothesis).

The remaining principles serve to restrict the utilization and application of statistical significance, explaining how p-values should not be interpreted or used in an effort to enhance or apply given research. Specifically, one principle states "scientific conclusions and business or policy decisions should not be based only on whether a p-value passes a specific threshold."

"Sometimes the lack of significant findings is more telling than reaching the golden ‘p<=.05’ significant level," said Maureen Berner, Professor at the School of Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "This is especially important on the complex, systems problems facing the public sector."

The Statement represents the first time the ASA has taken positions regarding specific statistical practice. Their intent, in light of the growing use and applicable of statistical data, is to provide guidance applicable for a broad audience, including researchers, practitioners and authors, many of whom are new to active use of statistics.

Development of the statement involved collaboration between dozens of statisticians over the past year. The ASA Executive Committee approved the final proposed Statement on January 29th.

Along with the statement, ASA will publish more than a dozen discussion papers authored by statisticians in multiple fields of sciences in their journal, The American Statistician.

"The issues involved in statistical inference are difficult because inference itself is challenging," Wasserstein said. "What we hope will follow is a broad discussion across the scientific community that leads to a more nuanced approach to interpreting, communicating and using the results of statistical methods in research."

When asked further about the importance of these principles for public sector research, Berner believes the statement is a significant step in the right direction.

"The most important aspect of the statement is not around p-values, which for most public administrators is a faint memory from a required statistics class," Berner said. "The underlying message is that data need to be used carefully, in context, and no single analysis replaces informed holistic judgement."

"Governments are on the verge of being swamped with data, promised the moon in terms of what can be done with it, and creating expectations for easy solutions that I fear often may not be met.  Chasing analysis just because we have new tools and lots of numbers can be a waste of time, and backfire when expectations can’t be met.   That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t vigorously pursue better analysis and use of statistics — we should — but not as an end in and of itself. Having lots of random pieces of wood and a gigantic workshop with power tools doesn’t guarantee you build the right box. You might only need an accurate tape measure."

"The ASA statement title includes the words 'context, process and purpose,' and is right on target."

Click Here to Download "Statement on Statistical Significance and p-Values"

 
TEACHING DATABASE UPDATE

ABFM is working on making the contents of our long-established Teaching Database available on our own web server. This process will be complete by the end of March, and our new Teaching Database will be live by March 31st.

The new database will also provide the option for direct submission of new materials. Until then, please submit new items for inclsion with the database to kenneth.hunter@rockymountnc.gov.
CURRENT JOB ANNOUNCEMENTS
 

Click Here for More Announcements

Please email additional faculty and professional announcements to kenneth.hunter@nclgba.org.

NASBO Announces New Executive Director

(PRESS RELEASE) The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) is pleased to announce the appointment of John T. Hicks as the association’s next Executive Director. Hicks is currently a Deputy State Budget Director in Kentucky, where he has held a variety of positions in state budgeting for the past 32 years. In his current position, Hicks oversees the budget development and budget execution process, and manages much of the budget and support staff in the office. Over the years Hicks has been the lead staff person in several areas including post-secondary education, capital projects and debt, criminal justice, workforce development and natural resources and environmental protection.

Hicks succeeds Scott D. Pattison, who was NASBO's Executive Director since 2001, and recently became Executive Director/CEO of the National Governors Association.

“As President of NASBO, I am very pleased to welcome John Hicks as the organization’s next Executive Director,” said Tom Mullaney, NASBO President and Rhode Island State Budget Officer. “Having known John over the past several years, I am confident he has the skills, knowledge and energy needed to continue the great work of NASBO and I look forward to working closely with him as he assumes his new role.”

“It is a great honor to be named the Executive Director of NASBO,” said Hicks. “I look forward to continuing the great service that NASBO provides to the state budget and finance officers of our 50 states and territories, and NASBO’s reputation of providing excellent information on state fiscal issues."

Hicks is well known within the NASBO community, having served on the association’s Executive Committee (board of directors) from 2007 to 2013, and was NASBO's President from 2011 to 2012. Hicks is the recipient of NASBO’s 1987 George A. Bell Service award and the 2013 Gloria Timmer award, which each recognize outstanding contributions and service to public budgeting and management in state government.

Hicks received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Murray State University. He will begin his new position on April 11, 2016.
Articles of Interest From
Why Customer Driven Government is Unrealistic

Practicing the Art

Finance and the Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate-Resilient Projects

Click Here for Article Submission Guidelines
 
ABFM is a research section of the American Society for Public Administration

About ABFM
We aim to promote the professional development of budgeting and financial management in the public and non-profit sectors. Embracing both theorectical and operational concerns, ABFM addresses issues in budgeting processes and practice in financial management.


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