The Financial Management Institute of Canada (fmi*igf) 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?
The fmi*igf 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 the fmi*igf 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, the fmi*igf’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*igf members that, as government employees, the fmi*igf 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 the fmi*igf 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 the fmi*igf.
In the late 70s it became apparent that fmi*igf 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, the fmi*igf took another step in asserting its professionalism by becoming an official corporation.
The 1980s were a decade of revitalization for the fmi*igf. In April 1980, the fmi*igf 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 organization.
In 1987, the PD Week co-sponsorship agreement with the Society of Management Accountants (now the Certified Management Accountants) was re-negotiated with the fmi*igf taking the leading role. The fmi*igf 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.
The fmi*igf celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1987-88. With that celebration came the fmi*igf journal, which replaced the much-loved Bulletin. In Vol. 1 No 1 – the very first edition of the fmi*igf journal issued in January of 1988, the then national President, Pat Nephin, talked about expanding fmi*igf 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*igf members as the Bulletin had been – a timely, relevant, and professional publication for anyone involved in public sector financial management.
In May 1988, the fmi*igf 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, the fmi*igf 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, the fmi*igf realigned its structure and its priorities to better support its regional chapters. A new chapter investment fund was created. The first fmi*igf 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 Ontario.
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, the fmi*igf launched its webinar series and in 2010 a new chapter was created in South-East New Brunswick.
In 2012-13, the fmi*igf 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, the fmi*igf has 14 chapters from coast to coast, thousands of members, and an even greater number of participants at its various events throughout the year. The fmi*igf 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, the fmi*igf 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.
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