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The chief financial officer (CFO) is a corporate officer primarily responsible for managing the financial risks of the corporation. This officer is also responsible for financial planning and record-keeping, as well as financial reporting to higher management. In some sectors the CFO is also responsible for analysis of data. The title is equivalent to finance director, a common title in the United Kingdom. The CFO typically reports to the chief executive officer and to the board of directors, and may additionally sit on the board.

Qualifications

Many CFOs are professionally qualified accountants, although it has become commonplace for non-accountants to become CFOs in the United States. Many CFOs have a Master of Business Administration but no qualified accountancy qualification such as Certified Public Accountant status.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, enacted in the aftermath of several major U.S. accounting scandals, requires at least one member of a public company's audit committee to hold an accounting or finance qualification.[1]

Federal government of the United States

The federal government of the United States has incorporating more elements of business-sector practices in its management approaches, including the use of the CFO position (alongside, for example, an increased use of the chief information officer post, within public agencies).

The Chief Financial Officers Act, enacted in 1990, created a chief financial officer in each of 23 federal agencies. This was intended to improve the government's financial management and develop standards of financial performance and disclosure. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) holds primary responsibility for financial management standardization and improvement. Within OMB, the Deputy Director for Management, a position was established by the CFO Act, is the chief official responsible for financial management

The Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM) is specifically charged with overseeing financial management matters, establishing financial management policies and requirements, and monitoring the establishment and operation of federal financial management systems. OFFM is led by a controller.

The CFO Act also established the CFO Council, chair by the OMB Deputy Director for Management and including the CFOs and Deputy CFOs of 23 federal agencies, the OFFM controller, and the Fiscal Assisant Sceretary, the head of the Office of Fiscal Service of the Department of the Treasury. Its mandate is to work collaboratively to improve financial management in the U.S. government and "advise and coordinate the activities of the agencies of its members" in the areas of financial management and accountability.

OMB Circular A-123 (issued 21 December 2004) defines the management responsibilities for internal financial controls in federal agencies and addressed to all federal CFOs, CIOs and Program Managers. The circular is a re-examination of the existing internal control requirements for federal agencies and was initiated in light of the new internal control requirements for publicly-traded companies contained in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

While significant progress in improving federal financial management has been made since the federal government began preparing consolidated financial statements, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that "major impediments continue to prevent [GAO] from rendering an opinion."[2] In December 2006, the GAO announced that for the 10th consecutive year, the GAO was prevented from expressing an opinion on the consolidated financial statements of the government due to a number of material weaknesses related to financial systems, fundamental recordkeeping, and financial reporting.

At the same time, in calendar year 2007, the CFOC announced that for the second consecutive year, every major federal agency completed its Performance and Accountability Report just 45 days after the end of the fiscal year (2006)

References

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