#43 – Shayne Kavanagh

Shayne Kavanagh

Shayne Kavanagh

Government Finance Officers Association

Senior Manager of Research


Insightful, Prolific, Transformative

Shayne has dedicated his career to improving local government finance. He realizes that local government finance and the role of a finance officer is not just to balance the books or mind the piggy bank. He encourages finance officers to challenge their organizations and themselves to plan better, make smarter decisions, reduce waste, and improve the communities they serve. As the pandemic unleashed unprecedented uncertainty and fear over government budgets, Shayne led GFOA’s efforts to produce resources that finance officers all across North America could rely on to apply “Fiscal First Aid” to the situation. Over the past two years, Shayne has authored or co-authored more than 17 research reports for GFOA on topics including diagnosing the financial condition of your government, balancing the budget, leadership under financial distress, cash flow, and COVID. Each paper was converted to training seminars and information was relied on by thousands to help steer their governments through the fiscal crisis.

Throughout his career, Shayne has worked to improve government by elevating leading practices and providing relevant research, advocacy, and leadership to help finance officers create more sustainable organizations. Shayne led efforts to re-write GFOA’s code of ethics creating doctrine that code focuses on how the finance officer can build and maintain public trust. Rather than a list of “dos and don’ts,” the new code is built on five key values: 1) integrity and honesty, 2) producing results for the community, 3) treating people fairly, 4) diversity and inclusion, and 5) reliability and consistency.

Shayne has also authored leading publications on technology transformation, long-term financial planning, financial policies, forecasting, and IT budgeting. More recently, Shayne authored “Financial Foundations for Thriving Communities,” GFOA’s featured publications that converts leading economic theory on common pool resource theory and applies the situation to the public sector budget process. Using proven principles for sustainable asset management the publication provides a new way to think about local government budgeting as a collaborative process that relies on stakeholders from across the organization. Since the original publication, these principles have been used to provide context to innovative research on use of imposed fees and fines, police budgeting, capital planning, pension reform, building trust and transparency, and more.

Currently, Shayne is leading two significant research initiatives for GFOA, Rethinking Budgeting and Rethinking Revenue. As governments now focus extra attention on the budget amid the global recession and COVID19 pandemic, improving the quality of budgeting is important to not only long-term financial sustainability, but also trust in government.

Shayne regularly consults directly with local governments as part of GFOA’s Research and Consulting Center. Over his 20+ year career with GFOA, Shayne has been active in helping local governments with ERP transformation, long-term financial planning, financial policy development, and recently leads GFOA’s efforts to infuse probability management with government decision making related to risk and uncertainty. Shayne has worked to develop several probabilistic models that provide for more informed decisions making that can be applied to reserve levels, debt capacity, pricing strategies and more.

The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.

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