Budget documents are submitted and reviewed each year by selected members of GFOA professional staff, as well as outside reviewers with experience in public sector budgeting.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said the award reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meet the highest principles of governmental budgeting, according to GFOA.
“These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device,” the mayor said.
A budget document must be rated proficient in all four categories to receive the award. In order to achieve that rating, the city was deemed "proficient" or "outstanding" in 27 criteria by which the effectiveness of the four budget categories were evaluated.
Areas of assessment include presentation of budget policies, goals and objectives, a financial overview, key issues, a budget summary, and presentation of the budget in a clear and easy-to-use format. The chosen set of criteria allows various different types of governments to be assessed on a comparable scale.
“In order to receive the budget award, the city had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation,” the mayor said.
The recent award reflects the high standard of budget preparation for the 2013 fiscal year. As part of the process, budget officers representing each department of the city assisted in the preparation of the budget documents.
The GFOA is a nonprofit association that seeks to enhance and promote the professional management of governments by identifying and developing financial policies and best practices.
The budget award program is open to governments at the state and local levels that make available to the public an operating budget document.
The award program was established in 1984 to encourage and assist local governments to prepare quality budget documents reflecting guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA's best practices on budgeting.