What is a Certified Government Financial Manager?

The Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) is a professional accreditation that is offered by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). It is the national standard of financial ethics and expertise by which financial managers who work in the government are measured. Government financial managers earn the CGFM designation in order to have greater confidence on the job, better understanding of government accounting processes and enhanced job marketability through advanced experience and knowledge.

The CGFM Exam

In order to pass the CGFM exam, candidates must submit an online application and meet following requirements. First, they must agree to abide by AGA’s Code of Ethics. Second, they must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Third, they must have at least two years of independent experience related to government financial management. The candidate’s experience must involve a professional level of management at the local, state or federal level.

This experience must be in one of the following areas: financial statements, systems operation, budget analysis, system auditing, accounting policies or compliance regulations. Government managers may have experience with strategic financial planning or analysis, cost accounting systems or information resources management. Fourth, candidates must pass the CGFM’s three rigorous exams. Candidates who are approved by the AGA will receive an eligibility letter that includes instructions on how to schedule the exam. Candidates have up to three years to take the exam from the date of the letter.

The CGFM Exam’s Content

The CGFM exam starts out with a section regarding governmental environments. Students will be asked about government levels, structures, authorities and organizations. Questions about legality will ask about sovereignty implications and centralized budgeting processes. There are questions that examine the interrelationship between planning, operations, accounting and reporting. Exam candidates must be familiar with the accounting management cycle and how to use of performance measures to evaluate financial effectiveness.

The departmental financing section will ask about grants, revenue, taxation, licenses, debt and user fees. Public accountability topics will cover who oversees government financial actions and how accountability is demonstrated and assessed. Questions about ethics will ensure that exam candidates know how to act in the public interest’s best interest by applying objectivity, observing due care and maintaining professional integrity. There is even a section on management skills and responsibilities that covers the functions and responsibilities of financial leaders.

Related Resource: What are Some Professional Certifications for Accountants?

Career Options

Government financial managers serve in a variety of roles within different government agencies. For example, federal financial managers serve as the financial interface between contractors and the government. They usually have a strong background in facility, property and equipment management. They work with contractor teams and target government departments by leading projects and serving as the primary managerial interface between all parties. Federal financial managers prepare audit packages, manage project milestones and create detailed process flows and narratives.

Alternatively, government financial analysts support the analysis of assigned operations, business processes and organizational structures. They strive to lead best practices and to identify opportunities for better efficiency. They have a variety of responsibilities that includes data analysis, status reporting, financial tracking, project scheduling, risk management and communication planning. They collect and assess financial estimates and performance data by applying analytical tools and techniques.

Certified Government Financial Manager’s should note that in order to maintain the CGFM credential, they must continue to abide by Code of Ethics and earn 80 continuing education credit hours every two years.