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What Makes a GFOA Award-Winning Budget?

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Practical Advice for Earning the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award

For over three decades, state and local public sector agencies have been striving to win the annual Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Award. GFOA’s budget award program not only provides a best practices framework for governments to publish high quality budget documents. It also serves as meaningful recognition for governments that approach budgeting, communications, and stakeholder engagement strategically. In this video, experienced budget officers share their perspectives on GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Award Program, its significance, and strategies for producing an award-winning budget document based on their proven track records producing and reviewing budget documents for the program.


In this video, you will learn:

  • Strategies for planning and developing an award-winning budget document.
  • How GFOA’s Budget Award Program review process works.
  • What it takes to achieve the program’s “Outstanding” distinction.
  • Why producing a high quality, award-winning budget document matters.

Presented By:



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Kim McCleskey
Budget Administrator, NOVA Parks, VA


Kim McCleskey has served as the Budget Administrator for NOVA Parks for the past 11 years. With over 30 years of local government experience in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, she has served jurisdictions in a variety of roles, including Budget Officer, City Administrator, and Local Government Consultant. While at NOVA Parks, she transitioned the annual operating budget into a financial plan that links to strategic information and serves as an operational guide that has earned the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Award for Distinguished Budget Presentation for the past 9 years. She has also served as a Budget Reviewer for the GFOA Distinguished Budget Awards Program for the past 27 years.


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Christen Sullivan
Senior Budget Analyst, Harford County, MD


Christen Sullivan is a Senior Budget Analyst for Harford County, Maryland. She has worked in the County’s Office of Budget and Management Research for thirteen years. Christen focuses heavily on capital projects and the County’s budget document, which has won the Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Budget Award for 28 years. She is also an MDGFOA member. Prior to joining the County, Christen worked as a Development Specialist for Towson University. She studied art history at the University of Manchester and Notre Dame of MD University, is an instructor for the County’s Craft the Code workshops for teen girls, is a certified 4-H volunteer and serves on the Development board for the Friends School of Harford.

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What Makes a GFOA Award-Winning Budget?