September 17, 2015
On Thursday, September 17, the National Academy of Public Administration and Grant Thornton hosted the initial Working Capital Fund Symposium.
The quarterly WCF Symposium aims to develop discussions to adopt a more streamlined WCF approach. Through this collaborative effort, government executives and managers can discuss WCF issues, share lessons learned, and gather best practices. Agency leaders share their insights to implement and sustain Working Capital Funds.
The meeting was introduced by Jim Taylor and Jennifer Ayers. Mr. Taylor is a Managing Director with Grant Thornton LLP's Global Public Sector. He has more than 30 years of experience in government finance, systems implementation, and grants management. Before joining Grant Thornton, Mr. Taylor served as the Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Jennifer Ayers acts as the WCF working group Chair and WCF Manager in the Department of Commerce (DOC). As Chairperson, she will act as the voice of the WCF Interagency Working Group, representing the group as its figurehead.
During his time in government, Mr. Taylor created a WCF in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and had to overhaul the WCF at the Department of Labor. As a major benefit of WCFs, he named that agencies prefer a way to have capital investment and at the same time being able to respond to the demands of mission support more quickly. They want to be able to move resources around in a transparent way. At DOL he saw WCF issues and thought to set up a more structured process to bring WCF leaders together and have discussions regularly. Maybe this can be a forum to make some real changes to WCFs. The target members are federal agencies, human capital professionals, IT, budget, and performance professionals. The objective is not to isolate WCFs but bring together people who have solutions for them.
Ms. Ayers called this forum a place to share ideas. WCFs are growing and hence to become more important, and as they do solutions need to be found. There is no reason why a government-wide WCF council does not exist yet. The working group is going to go out between each meeting and figure out what issues people want to address. Many of the issues of WCF are very common and must therefore be shared to address them jointly. For example, she created a group for representatives from the DOC WCFs to share practices through a Commerce WCF Group, which has been very helpful. DOC’s WCF resides in the office of the Secretary. It is now the third year of having everyone come and report to one group. It made a huge difference in how to manage the WCF.
In a Q&A session further issues, benefits, and opportunities of WCFs were discussed.