School of Government Promotes Fiscal Responsibility From the Classroom

The UNC School of Government furthers its commitment to serving North Carolina’s local governments through a course taught by William Rivenbark and Rebecca Badgett. The one-day training helps local officials bring their governments off the Unit Assistance List (UAL).  In a first for its program, the Lead for North Carolina (LFNC) public service fellowship has brought a Fellow to the School, with LaShonda Sousa providing support to the course and serving as its project manager. 

The UAL is developed by the Local Government Commission (LGC) to assist in prioritizing resource allocation, developing guidance and resources for units, and fiscal monitoring. Local government units on the list are identified as having concerns related to their budgetary procedures and submission of their audited financial statements in a timely manner. According to faculty member Rebecca Badgett, between 20 and 25 percent of all local governments in North Carolina fall under the list. 

Placement on the list has numerous impacts on how local governments can operate and utilize financial resources. Managers must attend additional financial management training and their units must obtain approval from the LGC to finance projects with terms exceeding three years and $50,000. The UAL Training Course is designed to help officials bring their units off the list.

“During the course, we focus on the budgeting process, how to design strong internal controls that will help ensure compliance with the Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act, and the laws related to annual audit requirements,” said Badgett. The goal of the course is to prepare local governments to address what got them on the UAL, by answering the LGC’s concerns with progress towards better fiscal practices. 

In addition to Rivenbark and Badgett’s work, LFNC fellow LaShonda Sousa took on the role of project manager for the course as the first Fellow serving directly with the School of Government. Sousa coordinated invitations and set-up, helped design training materials, and conducted follow-up to identify further needs post-training. In the coming year, she will be tracking the UAL to see how many units come off the list following the next LGC audit.

The UAL Training Course has been received positively by participating governments and provides an opportunity to serve units that may not typically utilize the School’s resources.

“We’re really excited to work with clients we’ve never reached before,” said Badgett. “It was rewarding to have the chance to travel across the state to teach many of the smaller units of government that may not traditionally attend School courses.”

As the team behind the course looks ahead, the hope is that they will see the 70 groups who attended utilize the resources from the training and at the School to finally come off of the UAL list.