FMI is old enough to have a
distinguished history, but young enough to still remember its
roots. What started out as a small group of senior federal
government financial officers, meeting around a lunch table to
discuss issues of financial management and the role of financial
advisors within government, has grown to thousands of members
across Canada, all working to promote excellence in financial
management at all levels of the public sector. How did we get to
where we are today?
FMI began its life as the Federal
Financial Officer's Institute in 1962. It began under the auspices
of the Federal Institute of Management and was a forum for senior
financial officers. Under the leadership of Guy Cousineau, they met
in the Gloucester Mess over lunch, often with a speaker followed by
a question and answer period. This was in the aftermath of the
Glassco Commission which made a number of recommendations on the
management of the federal Public Service, including the infamous
"let the managers manage". It quickly became clear to this small
group of visionaries that financial management had to be given more
prominence and recognition within the Government of Canada:
something that could only be achieved by enhancing the skills and
professionalism of financial officers.
In the early 1970s, membership
criteria broadened to include senior members of the FI group.
Meetings shifted to the RA Centre, and the growing organization
felt a need for a set of more formal rules upon which to guide
themselves. The first set of by-laws was agreed upon.
In 1975, then Auditor James J.
Macdonell had deep criticism of the financial management of the
federal government. Part of the response by financial officers
working in the public service was a hope to revitalize and use FMI
as a vehicle to strengthen the financial management community. As a
result, membership criteria broadened again to include the entire
financial management community within government. In 1975, the
first Bulletin was published, which quickly became the lifeline of
communication within the fmi*igf. Most importantly, FMI's first
Professional Development Week (which at the time was called PD
Days) was held in cooperation with the Society of Management
Accountants. The theme for the first PD Week was "Accountability" -
a word that was new at the time, but which would resonate for many
years to come.
It was, and still is, a great source
of pride to FMI members that, as government employees, FMI was the
first to address the issue of accountability within financial
management. Shortly after PD Week, the Lambert Commission on
Financial Management and Accountability was established to which
FMI presented its own brief, which was well received and respected.
That government financial officers themselves were taking a leading
role in the improvement of processes within government was a source
of pride for both public service employees and FMI.
In the late 70s it became apparent
that FMI could benefit greatly by including provincial government
financial management within the mandate of its operations. A
proposal to accept regional chapters was accepted, but it was not
until 1982 that the first chapter started in Victoria, followed
shortly thereafter by chapters in Manitoba, Montreal and Vancouver.
In 1982, FMI took another step in asserting its professionalism by
becoming an official corporation.
The 1980s were a decade of
revitalization for the FMI. In April 1980, FMI passes the 1,000-
member mark. In 1982, a Past Presidents' committee was established
to advise on strategies and programs, and in 1983 an awards program
was established to honour some of our outstanding members. In 1985,
the Capital Chapter became officially distinct from the national
In 1987, the PD Week co-sponsorship
agreement with the Society of Management Accountants (now the
Certified Management Accountants) was re-negotiated with FMI taking
the leading role. The FMI at that time also approached both the CGA
and CA associations and expanded the program to make PD Week even
larger and more relevant than ever.
FMI celebrated its 25th Anniversary in
1987-88. With that celebration came the FMI journal, which replaced
the much-loved Bulletin. In Vol. 1 No 1 - the very first edition of
the FMI journal issued in January of 1988, the then national
President, Pat Nephin, talked about expanding FMI coverage of the
issues faced in government through the introduction of this brand
new periodical. Today, we know only too well how accurate Pat's
prediction would be, as the quarterly, glossy-style magazine
quickly became as indispensable to FMI members as the Bulletin had
been - a timely, relevant, and professional publication for anyone
involved in public sector financial management.
In May 1988, FMI held the first
"Government Directors of Finance Workshop" in Montreal. This
workshop would turn out to be an intrinsic and invaluable part of
the fmi*igf program presenting a particular focus on issues of
regional and local interest. 1988 also saw a new strategic
five-year plan conceived to carry the fmi*igf into the 90's.
The late 80's and early1990s, saw the
creation of new chapters in Alberta, Halifax, Prince Edward Island,
Fredericton and Regina.
In 1991, FMI hired an Executive
Director and opened up its own office. The Capsule newsletter was
established at that time as a quarterly publication intended to
inform members of news from the National Office. In 1992, the
Government Directors of Finance Workshop became the Public Sector
Financial Management Workshop, to reflect the growing diversity of
our membership and the regional quality of the workshop. In the
late 1990's, a new chapter was launched in Toronto, unfortunately
after just a few years of operation this new chapter stopped its
activities due to a lack of volunteers.
In 2000, with the turn of the
millennium, the spring workshop was renamed Public Sector
Management Workshop and its program was expanded to cover a broader
range of management topics. In 2002, a new chapter was created in
St. John's and the fmi*igf launched its first web site.
In 2005, FMI realigned its structure
and its priorities to better support its regional chapters. A new
chapter investment fund was created. The first FMI Annual Report
was published. In 2006, the Ontario Chapter was created with the
support of the Ontario provincial controller. This new chapter
innovated by being the first to broadcast live webcasts of its
chapter PD events to multiple regional locations across
In 2007, PD Week expands its reach to
the entire financial community with the introduction of two new
streams targeted specifically to community leaders and to
administrative support personnel. A new partnership is also forged
with the Office of the Comptroller General to incorporate the
FORD/IARD graduation ceremony into the PD Week program. A new
alliance is also formed with the US Association of Government
Accountants. In 2009, FMI launched its webinar series and in 2010 a
new chapter was created in South-East New Brunswick.
In 2012-13, FMI celebrates its 50th
anniversary through a series of events across the country and the
publication of a commemorative issue of the fmi*igf journal.
Today, FMI has 14 chapters from coast
to coast, thousands of members, and an even greater number of
participants at its various events throughout the year. FMI enjoys
an exceptional reputation as a leading source in Canada for
professional development and the sharing of best practices in
public sector financial management. However, FMI is much more than
an organization providing PD and networking events. It is a group
of people committed to sharing and collaborating with their peers
for the greater benefit of the public service and the Canadians
they serve. Its success is based upon the hundreds of volunteers
who plan, organize and host events across the country.