CGFM® Certification

Examination One—Governmental Environment

115 questions
Two hours and 15 minutes

I: Organization, Structure and Authority of Government (15%)

A. Demonstrate an understanding of the levels of government, including:

  1. The three levels of government: federal, state and local.
  2. The interrelationships among the three levels of government: federal, state and local.

B. Demonstrate an understanding of the branches of government – legislative, executive, judicial – including:

  1. The roles of the three branches.
  2. The interrelationships among the three branches.
  3. The checks and balances through separation of powers among the three branches.

C. Demonstrate an understanding of the components of federal, state and local governments (e.g., central management and accountability agencies, departments, agencies, bureaus, commissions, divisions).

D. Demonstrate an understanding of the authorities and responsibilities of the government (e.g., government-wide and departmental), including:

  1. The federal government, its hierarchy and constraints (e.g., U.S. Constitution, federal laws, executive orders, rules and regulations).
  2. The state governments, their hierarchies and constraints (e.g., U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, state laws, executive orders, rules and regulations).
  3. The local governments, their hierarchies and constraints (e.g., state constitutions, state laws, local charters, local ordinances, executive orders, rules and regulations).
  4. Tribal government sovereignty.

E. Demonstrate an understanding of the authorities and responsibilities of the different types of governments, including:

  1. The differentiation among general-purpose governments, special-purpose governments and quasi-governmental entities (e.g., federal, states, cities, counties, territories, authorities, school districts, government corporations, government-sponsored enterprises).
  2. The interrelationships among general-purpose governments, special-purpose governments and quasi-governmental entities.
  3. The role of jointly-governed organizations (e.g., transit agencies).

II: Legally-Based Implications of the Government Financial Environment (15%)

A. Demonstrate an understanding of the implications of sovereignty in the levels of government, including:

  1. The meaning, application and limitations of sovereign authority.
  2. The power of governments to tax and borrow.
  3. The power of the federal government to establish monetary policy.

B. Demonstrate an understanding of the budget, including:

  1. The role and significance of the budget in government.
  2. The objectives of the budget (e.g., policy document, operations guide, financial plan, communications device).
  3. The objectives of the budget process (e.g., define priorities, debate policy, allocate resources, identify revenue sources).
  4. The legal aspects of the government budget (e.g., control levels, spending limits, fund types, balanced budgeting).
  5. The principles of legislative control over governmental finance (e.g., appropriating funds, establishing spending levels, establishing spending conditions).
  6. How the executive branch controls spending (e.g., monitoring budget execution, planning for allocation of resources over time and among programs).
  7. How judicial decisions affect government spending.
  8. The role of other budget control devices (e.g., apportionments, allotments, encumbrances/obligations, funds, function, department, activity, object).

C. Demonstrate an understanding of how establishing special funds or dedicated revenues helps fulfill legal requirements.

D. Demonstrate an understanding of legislative “earmarking.”

III: Demonstrate an Understanding of the Government Management System (Cycle), Including: (16%)

A. The elements of the government management system, including strategic planning, programming, budgeting, operations, accounting, reporting and auditing. 

B. The interrelationships among the elements of the government management system.

C. The importance of data in the government management system (cycle).

IV: Governmental Financing Process (24%)

A. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of taxation, including:

  1. The elements of tax policy (e.g., what to tax, who to tax, how much to tax, why to tax).
  2. The various types of taxes for each level of government and the roles and advantages of each type (e.g., income, wealth, consumption).
  3. The nature and role of tax expenditures.
  4. Tax limitations and exclusions.

B. Demonstrate an understanding of intergovernmental revenues, including:

  1. The differences among contracts, shared revenues and grants.
  2. The differences among the types of grants (e.g., formula grants, discretionary grants, block grants).
  3. The requirements and expectations of the grantor and grantee throughout the grant lifecycle, including the role of the Uniform Guidance.

C. Demonstrate an understanding of other forms of financing, including:

  1. Other forms of government revenues (e.g., investment income, user fees, licenses, lotteries, donations).
  2. The rationales for establishing user fees (e.g., recover costs, expand service capacity, encourage or limit use of services).
  3. The use of public-private partnerships.

D. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of debt, including:

  1. Purposes of entering into debt.
  2. Factors that should be considered before entering into debt (e.g., ability to pay, purpose, interest rate, tax base).
  3. The types of debt limitations (e.g., statutory, bond covenants).
  4. Factors that should be included in debt policies (e.g., available tax base, debt maturities).
  5. The various types of financing options (e.g., notes, bonds, lease-purchase, certificates of participation).
  6. The sources and methods of repaying debt (e.g., dedicated taxes, user fees, general revenues).
  7. The role of credit rating agencies in the debt issuance process.
  8. The role of insurance and guarantees in the debt issuance process.

V: Identify the Concepts, Definitions and Notions of Public Accountability, Including: (12%)

A. The meaning and purpose of accountability in the government environment (e.g., the Chief Financial Officers (CFO)  Act of 1990).

B. The role and key attributes of accountability (e.g., disclosure, organization structure, reporting),
and their interrelationships.

C. Elements for which a government should be accountable (e.g., performance, financial, compliance, efficiency and effectiveness, stewardship of assets).

D. The primary stakeholders in accountability (e.g., legislators, taxpayers, other governments, investors, creditors, underwriters, future generations).

E. The groups that help to establish and maintain accountability (e.g., legislative bodies, media, management, analysts, employees, taxpayers).

F. The methods used to demonstrate and assess accountability and transparency (e.g., audit reports, performance reports, oversight hearings, program evaluations, service efforts and accomplishment (SEA) reports, electronic reports).

G. The techniques used to assess fiscal sustainability and solvency.

H. Concepts of open government, data transparency and citizen-centric reporting (e.g., Digital
Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act), open checkbooks, open book, sunshine
laws).

VI: Demonstrate an Understanding of Ethics as Applied to the Government Environment, Including: (10%)

A. The key concepts related to ethical responsibility to the public, professional conduct (e.g., actual or perceived conflicts of interest, independence, objectivity, due care) and the sources of guidance (e.g., the AGA Code of Ethics).

B. The steps a government financial manager needs to take to avoid a conflict of interest and to ensure objectivity and independence.

C. The concept of due care in the performance of professional duties.

D. Activities or situations that are inconsistent with the responsibilities of public officials and employees.

E. The appropriate course of action to avoid the reality or the perception of improper use of one's office for personal gain.

F. Personal responsibility as it relates to organizational codes of conduct (e.g., whistle blower,
nepotism).

VII: Demonstrate an Understanding of Providing Government Services and Information Electronically, Including: (8%)

A. Delivery of government services and e-government (e.g., driver’s license renewal, online bill and tax payment).

B. Stakeholder real-time access to information, including electronic financial reporting.

C. The use of various media and devices for communications and providing services (e.g., social
networking, apps, mobile devices).

D. Security and privacy considerations (e.g., the requirements of the National Institute of Standards
and Technology, encryption, cybersecurity).