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Certified Government Financial Manager, CGFM Certification: Details on Examination and Certification for Certified Government Financial Managers

Written by AnonymousSeptember 17, 2011
Certified Government Financial Manager

If you’re looking to improve your career in accounting, obtaining an accounting certificate is an excellent first step. Accounting certifications can expand your accounting knowledge and increase your proficiency in a specific area of the accounting field.

Introduction to Certified Government Financial Manager Certification

Financial managers, who are also known as chief financial officers (CFOs) or finance directors, are responsible for managing the financial risks of the agency or business they work for. In particular, their duties usually include:

  • Creating and overseeing budgeting for a company or organization
  • Financial planning
  • Ensuring accuracy and controls in record-keeping
  • Cash flow management
  • Communication of financial performance and forecasts to interested parties

There are financial managers who specialize particularly in the government sector; these professionals are known as government financial managers.  Working exclusively in the public sector, government financial managers are very important because they provide citizens, taxpayers, and voters with unbiased information about the use of public funds, which leads to a more transparent government. They’re also responsible for providing budgeting advice and financial policy guidelines to governing city councils, boards of directors, and other public entities.

A government financial manager may want to earn his or her Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) credential. This professional credential distinguishes a financial manager as an expert in the field of managing the financial interests and budgets of a federal, state, or local government entity. Issued by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), a CGFM certificate can benefit your career in the following ways:

  • Demonstrates that you’re highly trained in managing and directing the financial interests of a government organization  
  • Enhances your job prospects in the government sector  
  • Increases your earning potential within the government sector
  • Can be reassuring of one’s ethical professional conduct

Steps to Certified Government Financial Manager Certification

  1. In order to become certified, you must follow three key steps.
  2. Read the AGA’s Code of Ethics which can be found on their website
  3. Submit your completed CGFM Application Form, including the application fee which is $85 as of 2011
  4. Fax or mail the required educational documentation

To be eligible for certification, you must hold a bachelor’s degree, verified by a copy of your official college or university transcript. At least 24 semester credit hours (36 quarter credit hours) of study must have been completed in any of the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Budgeting
  • Economics
  • Electronic data processing
  • Finance
  • Information resources management
  • Public administration
  • Other topics related to financial management

If you haven’t finished your bachelor’s degree but have more than two years of government financial management work experience, you can submit a request to waive the education requirement.

In addition to the education requirement, you’re required to have at least two years of professional-level experience in government financial management. Your work experience can be derived from employment at any level of government as long as it is in one of the following areas:

  • Financial systems design, implementation, or operation
  • Budget formation or analysis
  • Accounting or auditing policy and procedure development, implementation, or interpretation
  • Accounting or auditing standards-setting
  • Auditing financial operations, financial statements, internal controls, or legal compliance
  • Auditing contract compliance or costs
  • Financial reporting
  • Financial planning or analysis
  • Cost or program accounting systems
  • Asset management systems, development, or operation
  • Information resources management or electronic data processing
  • Government financial management training course design or instruction
  • Investigating financial crimes or fraud
  • Other relevant experience accepted by the Professional Certification Board

Although you don’t have to submit the required CGFM Work Verification Form when you submit your application, you will eventually have to submit it in order to become certified. If you already meet the work experience requirement at the time you submit your application, send the Verification Form along with the rest of your forms to speed up processing time.

Details of the Certified Government Financial Manager Exam

After your application has been processed and approved, you have three years to pass the three exams required for CGFM certification. Each computerized exam, which you take at a local testing site in your area, contains 115 multiple-choice questions and lasts a total of two hours and 15 minutes. The three exams cover the following content areas:

- Governmental environment

Organization, structure and authority of government (15 percent of the exam)
Legal and other aspects of the government environment (25 percent of the exam)
Government management system (15 percent of the exam)
Governmental financing process (25 percent of the exam)
Public accountability (5 percent of the exam)
Ethical practice as a government financial manager (5 percent of the exam)
Financial management responsibilities and skills (10 percent of the exam)

- Governmental accounting, financial reporting, and budgeting

Governmental financial accounting, reporting and budgeting general knowledge (40 percent of the exam)
State and local financial accounting and reporting (30 percent of the exam)
Federal financial accounting and reporting (30 percent of the exam)

- Governmental financial management and control

Internal controls (25 percent of the exam)
Internal and external auditing (25 percent of the exam)
Performance measurement reporting (13 percent of the exam)
Financial and managerial analysis techniques (7 percent of the exam)
Financial and managerial concepts, controls and techniques (30 percent of the exam)

You can register for the exams online or by phone. To register, you will need to present your candidate ID, found on your letter of eligibility, and pay a registration fee, which is $109 as of 2011.

Preparing for the Certified Government Financial Manager Exam

If you want to be well prepared for the three exams, you have several study options. The AGA recommends that you do any combination of the following:

  • Attend an instructor-led training course, information about which is included on the AGA website.
  • Purchase study guides from the AGA website.
  • Review AGA’s numerous study references found on their website.
  • Call your local AGA chapter to locate a study group or other support network in your area.

Maintaining the Certified Government Financial Manager Designation

Maintaining your CGFM certification requires paying an annual renewal fee, which is $30 for AGA members and $65 for non-members as of 2011.

In addition, the AGA requires that you complete at least 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) in topics related to government financial management every two years.

To qualify, CPE activities must be programs designed to enhance your professional competency, specifically in government financial management. Some examples of approved CPE activities are:

  • Internal training programs offered by your government employer
  • Structured courses offered by a professional organization within the government sector
  • Select university and college courses
  • Conferences, conventions, meetings, seminars, and workshops held by professional organizations within your industry
  • Web, computer, or multimedia-based courses offered online
  • Serving as a speaker, instructor, or discussion leader on relevant topics
  • Developing courses or course materials for relevant group programs
  • Publishing articles or books on relevant subjects
  • Participating in AGA’s question-writing workshop which you can sign up for on their website

Though you aren’t required to submit supporting documentation when you report your CPE hours, hold onto all documents related to your CPE activities for a minimum of three years, in case AGA requests to see proof of your compliance.

If you fail to meet the requirements for continuing education in a timely manner, your CGFM certification will become inactive.

Governing Board Information

CGFM certification is issued by:

The Association of Government Accountants
2208 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301