Redmond is a small City of 55,000 citizens (www.redmond.gov). Located 16 miles East of Seattle, they have a lot of technology companies, like Microsoft and Nintendo, nearby and consider themselves to be a technology focused town. A new CFO (Mike Bailey) had joined the authority and was keen to get a picture of the financial health of the organisation so he could ensure they were in good financial health to deliver value for money to their community and those businesses that they supported.
CIPFA were working to offer CIPFA’s Financial Management Modelling tool to practitioners across North America. This self-assessment tool was tailored to meet the requirements of their standard setters and was able to help the incoming CFO of Redmond to understand how well Public Financial Management (PFM) was embedded across departments. The FM Model proved to be very comprehensive and it allowed Redmond to benchmark internal functions and assesses how well they understood PFM.
Redmond also liked the way the self-assessment tool was laid out to ask questions around; Securing Stewardship, Supporting Performance and Enabling Performance, it meant that it would deliver a comprehensive review of their financial state.
Once the self-assessment tool had been completed by all stakeholders and all the reports were collated, Redmond City Council was able to develop a strategic plan to look at the best ways to improve the operational performance in some departments. Also the organisation wanted to take stock of where they rated, by benchmarking themselves against the tool. They could see where gaps needed to be addressed and where there was evidence of best practice.
Also the FM Model was used, not because there were problems, but because they didn’t want to appear complacent especially as there had been a recent global economic crash and the FM Model exercise was also going to enable them to future proof some of those development areas where gaps had appeared. The City of Redmond is AAA rated by the bonding agencies, so they are already a strong organization, but wanted to demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement by use of the FM Model.
Redmond is a transparent organisation and was keen to share its experiences with other finance professionals in their community. They would have found it useful if more organisation had undertaken the exercise so there could be more of a community approach as the FM Model takes you to a point where there needs to be some interpretation of what those next steps are. Collaborating more would have helped.
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