Event Report: Budgeting World in Government
- Overview and Purpose of this Webpage
- Origin of the Idea
- Project Initiation
- Main Project Roles – Organizing Committee
- Operational Project Members
- Communications and the Media
- The Venue
- The Panels
Overview and Purpose
This page is for the benefit of the sponsoring and contributing organizations. They may choose to use it to remember how this event was organized, note what worked and what they would change now that it is over. The page is available in a public space although some details have been modified to protect the privacy of individuals. If you make use of or are inspired by any of this material, it is available free of charge assuming you provide the following acknowledgement:
The organizers wish to thank the following Canadian organizations www.fmi.ca, www.ipac.ca and www.ipe.ualberta.ca for making these materials available. Originals are available from www.myorgbio.org/articles.
Origin of the Idea
The initial idea was conceived by the Alberta Chapter of FMI*IGF Canada in the Spring of 2012. Through personal contacts, IPE and IPAC were invited to participate. The organizing committee was composed of the following:
- Project Manager: Frank Potter
- FMI Lead: Shawn Melnychuk, President of the Alberta Chapter
- IPAC Lead: Mike Coverhill, Program Coordinator, Edmonton Region
- IPE Lead: Bob Ascah, Director
From the start, the organizing committee choose to have a generally ‘meeting free environment’. As a result, the group made significant use of teleconference technologies and email.
- Next-Time: Establish a collaboration site to share project artifacts and reduce the issue of having multiple versions of documents and access to the documents.
Main Project Roles – Organizing Committee
Roles for the project were assigned based on past experience. Bob Ascah used his contacts to recruit all but one of the panelists. Shawn Melynchuk used his experience with the Shaw to manage the venue, book the space and be the primary liaison with the conference centre. Mike provided a critical overview to the project. Frank’s experience as project manager allowed the conference to be staged with minimal duplication of effort or missed activities.
The organizing committee met twice in-person at the initiation of project and both times were in a local pub. The latter is mentioned as it was important that the committee had a level of trust and the ability to communicate honestly to resolve most issues before bringing other individuals.
The organizing committee had largely completed the overall planning for the conference by November, 2012 including the following:
- Recruitment of panelists and moderators
- Recruitment of a master of ceremonies
- Establishing the overall agenda
- Selecting and booking the venue
- Determining the look and feel of the conference
Operational Project Members
Completing the overall planning work was important so that the next stage of detailed execution could be completed. The detailed work involved recruiting individuals to work on specific operational tasks and responsibilities. Within the project work plan there were the following two tabs:
- Volunteer-Roles: a list of the roles and bulleted expectations.
- Contacts: a map of the person to the role along with the email address and other contact information.
- Next-Time: Not all of the roles identified were filled and other functions were completed which were not specifically documented in the plan.
- This was still successful because both FMI and IPAC had seasoned volunteers who were comfortable in their roles.
- The Volunteer-Roles would be more important for organizations with less experienced volunteers.
- The Project Plan worked well to keep the team on track. It contained the following key documents:
- – Detailed Agenda for the event
- -Contact List of those involved in the conference
- -Volunteer roles and responsibilities
- -Venue requirements
- -Over all Project
- -Risk and Issue Logs
Communications and the Media
Communication for the event primarily used existing channels namely FMI and IPAC distribution lists, their and IPE’s websites and some secondary communication channels. The secondary channels included broadcasting via the Government of Alberta’s Senior Financial Officer’s Council as well as the CMA and CGA societies.
IPE issued one press release which produced moderate interest amongst a number of media outlets. Most of the interest, however, was for the political panel. The Edmonton Journal’s produced two articles on conference. Taxing dilemma for Alberta’s Finances and Thomson: A taxing time to read Alberta politics.
Given that the event was over-subscribed with a waiting list, the above communication and media activities were sufficient. A media liaison position was considered but not formally assigned although Bob Ascah took on some functions of this role.
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The initial thought was to have 3 registration methods. One each for FMI and IPAC members and a third method for the public via a 3rd party venue. The 3rd party withdrew in October as they were not certain that they could collected paid registration. As a result, registration was done via two websites, FMI and IPAC.
At the conference itself, a greeter asked individuals walking in whether they registered via FMI, IPAC or were a panelists. Based on the response, the individual was steered towards one of three tables. A common name tag was prepared for all participants, which included the FMI, IPAC and IPE logos, was produced by an IPAC volunteer.
IPE scanned the registration list for dignitaries (e.g. had registered privately). The resulting list of names was provided to the Master of Ceremonies so she could acknowledge their presence in her opening remarks. IPE maintained the list of panelists, moderators and interested members of the media. The organizing committee add all of the various lists together (e.g. FMI + IPAC + Panelists + Media) to come to a final breakfast tally.
Overall, registration was considered to be efficient and effective. In addition, approximately $111 was collected for the FMI initiative to raise funds for local food banks. This amount was matched and increased to $xxx by the organizing committees.
- Next-Time: The proposed use of a third-party registration method was an unnecessary distraction given that FMI and IPAC had long established registration processes.
- The organizing committee should have better planned and anticipated the need for a combined list of registrants and the creation of a common name tags.
The Shaw Conference Centre is a familiar venue to both IPAC and IPE. Its staff were very helpful in the planning and the cost of venue, excluding media, was very reasonable (about $25/plate). The layout of the salon was satisfactory for a breakfast buffet. A coat rack in the back proved satisfactory. Unfortunately it made it more difficult for back tables to see the panelists. A video feed with projectors would have been ideal albeit beyond the initial budget of the organizing committee. During the earlier portion of the conference, sound to the stage-left was poor but was later remedied by the contract technician.
The committee opted for a single projection screen which turned out to be sub-optimal as half of the room had trouble seeing the slides. In addition the power intensity of the projector meant that some of the slides were washed out.
- Next-Time: Locate a sponsor to cover the cost of suitable audio visual including having closed circuit-projected feeds of the panels.
- Estimated cost circa $10,000.
The first panel, Budget Setting from the Political View, Panelist Discussion, was acknowledged as the best received and most interesting to the attendees. It was also the panel with the strictest application of time constraints. More time could have been set aside for questions although there was a reluctance from the audience to ask questions.
Panels were kept on time through the use of a time-keeper and the use of time cards.
- Next-Time: Allow for audience members to post questions via smart-phone before and during the panel. Have panelists respond to their preferred questions.
- Have two panels with more time for breaks, networking and questions.
The following solicited comments where received in regards to the conference:
Really enjoyed the political panel, and hearing from Robert and the others. So nice to hear from our-ex premier. His public speaking has improved tremendously since he’s retired! I’ve always enjoyed his great sense of humour, I just didn’t have time to stay for the municipal discussion.