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Interior supports fiscal accountability training and capacity building for insular area officials

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WASHINGTON (Press Release) — U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech today applauded the Island Government Finance Officers Association or IGFOA on the conclusion of the first virtual summer conference, which took place from May 26 to May 27, 2020.

The IGFOA summer conference convened over 60 finance ministers and government finance officials from the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the Freely Associated States, which include the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. This program is funded through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs.

“I am inspired to see that the finance officers from the insular areas have adapted to the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic in order to maintain valuable training and networking opportunities for strong fiscal management across the island governments,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and I are pleased to support this program that promotes financial accountability and best practices for the island governments.”

Participants of the virtual Island Government Finance Officers Association view a presentation from Roxalyn Kaminaga, representing Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. Contributed photo

Delivering remarks during the conference, USVI Commissioner of Finance Kirk Callwood congratulated each of the insular area governments for their hard work addressing the challenges created by Covid-19, praising continued work on improving single audits and compliance metrics. The commissioner noted that insular area governments are facing shrinking revenues and myriad challenges but expressed confidence that the islands will emerge from the crisis stronger than ever.

The IGFOA participants will now attend virtual conference sessions of the Government Finance Officers Association or GFOA along with finance officers representing various federal, state, and local governments of the United States and Canada. The virtual GFOA will be delivering sessions over the next four weeks on topics of significant interest, including accounting, budgeting, treasury management, public debt, employment benefits management, leadership, and other areas of public finance. The IGFOA is scheduled to reconvene virtually in mid-July to discuss GFOA session content and follow-up activities in the insular governments.

While GFOA conference sessions inform the insular government finance officials of emerging standards and trends in public finance, the smaller IGFOA focuses on practical implementation within the insular government finance offices. The administration and accounting responsibilities of the insular area governments include all services typically handled by a U.S. state, county, or city government, such as schools, public safety, roads, airports, seaports, hospitals, utilities, retirement plans, development authorities, tourism boards, embassies, and immigration.

Funded through the Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program, the IGFOA is comprised of government finance officials from the U.S. territories and the Freely Associated States and works to build the local capacity of their respective government finance offices through biannual meetings that provide technical training and strategic support in public finance.

Additional information on the IGFOA and the Pacific & Virgin Islands Training Initiatives can be found online at: http://www.pitiviti.org

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