Why Local Governments Turn To ClearGov Digital Budget Book To Earn The GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award

Why Digital Budget Book To Win GFOA Award

If your local government has earned a GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, you know how it helps support your commitment to transparency and fosters civic engagement within your community. If you’ve never applied for the GFOA award, you’ll be pleased to learn it’s actually a simple process!

The process is even more straightforward when you use ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book solution. The GFOA criteria is built-in with an easy-to-follow checklist and auto-generated pages, charts and tables, making it quicker than ever to create an award-winning budget book.   

About The GFOA Budget Award

Established in 1984, GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program encourages local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality. Winners of the award reflect the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting, and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting. Every year, thousands of state and local governments earn the award, distinguishing themselves as leaders amongst their peers for transparency in budgeting. To earn recognition, budget documents must meet program criteria and act as an outstanding policy document, financial plan, operations guide, and communication tool.

How ClearGov Helps You Meet GFOA Criteria 

More than 500 governments nationwide use ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book solution to budget better. Previous award winners, and those looking to apply for the award for the first time, turn to ClearGov because we have a built-in checklist based on the GFOA’s Detailed Criteria Location guide for the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program. Local governments use this checklist to meet and exceed GFOA award  criteria as they build their budget book. 

Features of the GFOA criteria checklist include:

  • Mandatory Criteria – Certain sections of the budget book are required by the GFOA, while others are strongly encouraged. The goal is to help you create a clear, consistent, and accurate budget document. Required sections  say ‘mandatory’ next to them, so that you know these are must-have elements in your budget book. 
  • Criteria Explanations – A dropdown arrow under each section allows you to expand it and see GFOA’s explanation for the award criteria. 
  • Auto-Generated Content and Pages – ClearGov instantly auto generates some charts, graphs, content, and pages based on the budget data provided. Tables of contents, a glossary, fund summaries, debt pages, and more can be created automatically. 
  • Content Detected – Sections with a green circle will say ‘content detected,’ which means the data for that criteria is existing, and you simply need to review and add any additional narrative.
  • Content Not Detected – Sections with a red circle will say ‘content not detected,’ which means you need to complete that section. 

Some of the criteria are automatically checked based on ClearGov’s Budget Book Analyzer, while other sections are manually checked off by the user upon completion. 

“Thanks in great part to ClearGov and its Digital Budget Book solution, we earned our first GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award this year. We’re looking forward to becoming a repeat winner!” Charlie Funderburk, City Manager for the city of Tega Cay, SC

Other Ways ClearGov Streamlines Budget Book Creation

In addition to helping you automatically meet GFOA criteria, ClearGov Digital Budget Book streamlines the entire process from start to finish. 

Web-Based – A web-based budget book is easy to navigate, understand, and update. Unlike a static, stale PDF document, an online budget book delivers dynamic and engaging information to internal and external stakeholders. 

Collaborative – It’s easy to invite department heads to contribute to their sections and dedicated department pages. Instead of back-and-forth email, all communication takes place in one central location in real-time. 

Template-Based – Instead of creating pages from scratch, template-based pages make it easy to add narrative, charts, images, videos, and more. 

Auto-Generated Charts – Based on the budget data you provide, Digital Budget Book automatically generates certain charts, such as those for Fund Summary pages.

Easier Year After Year – Easily copy budget book content from one year to the next. By not having to start from scratch every year, ClearGov customers save hundreds of hours during the budgeting process. Additionally, because ClearGov automatically updates the figures with your current year budget data, you eliminate the risk of error during data entry and minimize time spent on reconciliation. 

Applying For A GFOA Award Using Digital Budget Book

When it comes time to apply for a GFOA award, ClearGov once again makes the process even easier. 

Submitting Website-Based Budget Books – GFOA recently changed the language on the award application to accommodate website-based budget books. The instructions now direct submitters of website-based budget books to include a URL in addition to uploading a PDF. 

This is a WIN for ClearGov customers, as it gives reviewers the opportunity to explore your government’s Digital Budget Book with all of its engaging and interactive graphical elements, in addition to your PDF version! Our clients that have submitted their Digital Budget Book have received great feedback on their digital version from their reviewers. We’re excited that the GFOA took the initiative to embrace digital budget documents, and we look forward to streamlining the review process for reviewers in the future as they see the ease-of-use of ClearGov’s website-based budget book navigation

Generate A PDF With One Click – Simply ‘print’ your Digital Budget Book to automatically generate a beautiful PDF version of your budget document. You will upload the PDF during the application process, and you will need it to complete the next item. If any changes are made, the PDF can be downloaded again instantly and will always mirror the website-based version. 

Completing The Criteria Location Guide – The GFOA requires submitters to complete this form with the page numbers that correlate to each criteria. You will use your PDF to easily complete this step. 

“The City of Ypsilanti received the GFOA Distinguished Budget Award for the last 6 years, and this year was our first time using ClearGov. One big change was ClearGov made the budget preparation easier. We used less time building the budget and more time focusing on its content.” Rheagan Basabica, Finance Director/Treasurer for the city of Ypsilanti, MI

Create An Award-Winning Budget Book With ClearGov

In the past year, more than 30 ClearGov customers earned the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. You can see our top 10 list here along with links to many of their award-winning budget books!  

We’re excited to see the application process changing to better accommodate local governments applying with website-based budget books! As always, ClearGov will continue to monitor this closely as more changes are made by the GFOA to streamline the process for applicants and reviewers alike using website-based budget books.

If you want to add another – or your first – GFOA budget award to your list of achievements, ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book solution makes creating an award-winning budget document easier than ever. Contact us to learn more and get started. 

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March 16, 2022

Matt Benati

Matt Benati is Vice President of Marketing for ClearGov®, the leading provider of Budget Cycle Management software for local governments. Matt is passionate about helping organizations modernize their annual budgeting process by automating workflow, increasing collaboration, and improving transparency between governments and citizens.

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