The City of Los Angeles treasury team has been shortlisted by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) for its 2009 Pinnacle Awards, in the Strategy category. The City of Los Angeles is a US$17bn enterprise with 42 lines of business and over 50,000 employees providing services to residents in a 471 square mile footprint. The Office of the Treasurer was able to transform the meaning of ‘business as usual’ by bringing the City 30 years forward by creating an electronic financial processing environment to maximise efficiencies, enhance governance through transparency, and optimise best-in-class technology in the face of a highly politicised environment, the largest budget deficit in LA’s history, and an overwhelming resistance to change.
The successes realised by the treasury team for the City of Los Angeles are evident on many levels that can’t be quantified, but those that can include:
- Reducing unidentified deposits from 1,220 to less than 20 per month.
- The automation of general ledger posting in treasury resulting in the reduction of 107 FTE hours per week.
- Annual float savings from implementation of four controlled disbursements accounts of US$1.1m.
- Decreasing compensating balances with an associated increase in return on investment of over US$4m.
When asked by AFP to identify the one thing about their solution they felt was most important to share with other financial professionals, Crista Binder, assistant treasurer, responded: “We took the time to assess our current state in detail. This started with pointing the finger at ourselves in treasury to see where we fell short. The level of scrutiny we applied to ourselves gave us much needed credibility when it came time to scrutinising the operations of our client departments. Treasury acted as an ambassador of best practices rather than a dictator of rules.”
When asked what it meant to the Office of the Treasurer and the City of Los Angeles to be recognised as the winner of the Strategy Category for the 2009 AFP Pinnacle Awards, Joya De Foor, city treasurer, responded: “It’s an honour to be recognised by one of the largest treasury and finance professional organisations in the country. Traditionally, government doesn’t seek to align itself with the private sector but to establish and maintain its own set of standards limited to other government practitioners. The Office of the City Treasurer strives to be the leader in setting the standard for any organisation including government.”
De Foor continued: “This award also signifies the rise in importance of the treasury function in government. The City of Los Angeles Office of the Treasurer is now recognised as an essential partner and advisor in the financial activities of the city. This was not always the case when many thought of treasury as a clerical function. This award also gives us credibility with our financial partners and advances the reality that the City of Los Angeles’ treasury professionals are just as sophisticated as their corporate counterparts. Our financial partners view us as a financial organisation that just happens to be a government employing the same measures of success as any good private sector company.”
You can learn more about the City of Los Angeles solution, which exemplifies the critical strategic role that treasury can play within any organisation, directly from Crista Binder at the AFP Annual Conference.
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