February 2, 2018 8:00am – 4:30pm Map & Directions 602-252-1234

Governmental Accounting Conference

Online registrations are currently closed, please call (602) 324-6847 for additional registration options


This conference is designed for CPAs, auditors and accountants in federal, state, local and Tribal governments, to provide insights and understanding on new developments in government accounting and auditing.


Hyatt Regency Phoenix at Civic Plaza
122 N 2nd St
Phoenix, AZ 85004-2379

Registration Time





Non-CPA Staff


Non-CPA Staff (100% club)


Non-CPA Staff (sole proprietor)




Specialized Knowledge



7:15 – 8:00 On-Site Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 8:10 Opening Remarks - Welcome from the Conference Chair – Brian Hemmerle, Henry+Horne

8:10 – 9:00 Update on State Budget
Richard Stavneak, Joint Legislative Budget Committee
The presentation will highlight issues associated with the FY 2019 state budget and focus on the challenges the Legislature will face in developing a spending plan.

9:00 – 9:20 Networking Break

9:20 – 10:35 GASB Update – What Lies Behind and Beyond the Blue Covers
David R. Bean, Governmental Accounting Standards Board
The year of the new retiree healthcare reporting has come. This statement certainly deserves the attention of those governments that offer these benefits, and this session will highlight implementation guidance that can aid in tackling the new financial reporting requirements. Also, upcoming new standards, including debt disclosures and conduit debt, will be spotlighted. In addition, key projects of the GASB, including the financial reporting model and revenue and expense recognition, will be addressed.

10:35 – 10:55 Networking Break

10:55 – 12:10 Resolving Ethical Dilemmas – You Make the Call
David L. Cotton, Cotton & Company, LLP
If you said to a group of accountability professionals, “raise your hand if you are ethical,” every hand would go up. Why, then, do we have ethical failures? One answer is that not everyone can agree on the “right” course of action to take in every situation. This session will explore several potential ethical dilemmas to determine how and why trained accountability professionals sometimes (often?) run afoul of our ethics principles.

12:10 – 1:20 Luncheon – Current State of the American Municipalities (session will start at 12:30)
Scott Smith, Valley Metro
What if mayors ruled the world? Local governments – cities and towns – are changing the world by being innovative and bold. What if all levels of government approached issues and solved problems the same way mayors and local government staff do? Imagine the possibilities!

1:20 – 1:35 Break


A. Reporting Fiduciary Activities and Leases – A Closer Look
David R. Bean, Governmental Accounting Standards Board
In 2017, the GASB issued two new statements that will have a profound effect on financial reporting. The first focuses on the reporting of fiduciary activities and the second tackles the age-old issue of lease accounting and financial reporting. These standards are not ones that are read today and implemented tomorrow. As a result, this session will highlight planning and implementation issues, including how to identify a financing lease and how to determine whether an activity should be reported as a fiduciary fund.

B. Municipal Bankruptcy 101: What the CFO and Auditor Need to Know
Kenneth Pun and Vanessa Burke, The Pun Group, LLP
Municipalities are facing fiscal challenges. Reduced budgets and increased pension costs mean that state, local, and special-purpose governments need to find innovative ways to reduce costs while maintaining the service levels constituents expect, gaining operational efficiency and reducing risk. The purpose of Chapter 9 is to provide a financially-distressed municipality protection from its creditors while it develops and negotiates a plan for adjusting its debts. Several municipalities in the United States are struggling to meet their short- and long-term financial obligations such that Chapter 9 is increasingly a subject for discussion. The objectives of this session:

1. What is Chapter 9 and how would this petition help a financially distressed municipality?
2. Discussion on the most recent municipal bankruptcies
3. Perspective from the CFO
4. Perspective from the Auditor

C. Don’t Be the Next OPM – Prepare for a Cyberattack
Michael Cocanower, itSynergy
Any governmental agency is a high value target for a hacker. Not only are they targets because of the information that might be available, but simply because of the “bragging rights” they will gain among peers. In this session, we’ll take you inside the hacker’s mind. We’ll talk about how they think, what they look for when selecting a target, and most importantly the steps you need to take to prepare and properly protect yourself and your agency. We’ll also talk about how to prioritize cybersecurity efforts and budgets to ensure maximum effectiveness.

2:50 – 3:15 Networking Break


D. Déjà vu: GASB’s Revised OPEB Standards – Haven’t We Done This Before?
Donna Miller & Michael Stelpstra, State Auditor General’s Office, and Erin Higbee, Arizona State Retirement System
GASB’s revised employer fiscal year 2018 reporting standards for OPEB (postemployment benefits other than pensions) are very similar to its revised pension standards that employers implemented in fiscal year 2015. However, unlike pensions, employers’ net OPEB liability is much smaller than their net pension liability—some employers may even have net OPEB assets. Also, unlike pensions, many employers have single employer OPEB plans. This session will review the revised OPEB standards, discuss what information the state retirement systems will provide for cost-sharing and agent OPEB plans, and address issues related to single employer OPEB plans.

E. Managing vs. Leading
David L. Cotton, Cotton & Company, LLP
Most of us studied accounting, finance, business administration, or some other specific discipline in college. We were successful in our jobs and got promoted to a management position. Did anyone ever actually teach us how to manage? Most of us aspire to be leaders. If you are a successful manager, does that mean you have good leadership abilities? This session explores the differences between managing and leading from both a theoretical and practical perspective and looks at some great and some terrible leaders from history.

F. From Risk Assessment to Analyzing Data – Key Fraud Detection Tools
Karin Smith, Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C.
Learn key strategies for digging deep into conducting an internal risk assessment and examining financial data to detect fraud. This session presents tips and techniques for implementing a risk assessment and using data mining as a strategy to detect and prevent fraud and misuse of public monies. Learn easy-to-implement methods for processing and analyzing data from accounts payable, payroll, and general ledgers to detect errors, fraud, and misuse of funds.




Fester & Chapman, PLLC
Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C.
The Pun Group, LLP
CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Designed For

Manuals will be furnished electronically only. We encourage laptops and readers at the conference.

Event Leaders

Higbee, Erin

Rating: 0.00

Erin Higbee, CPA, CGFM, is the Assistant Director/CFO of the Financial Services Division at the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) and has worked with the ASRS for over 4 years. In her relatively short tenure with the ASRS, she has spent a great deal of time on implementing new GASB pronouncements and developing the internal process for GASBs 68 and 75 reporting to employers. Prior to joining the ASRS, Erin worked in public accounting as an auditor for 10 years. Erin gained a lot of experience through a broad client base that included governments and benefit plans. She earned both a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University. She also earned her Masters of Business Administration Degree with an emphasis in Finance from Grand Canyon University.

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Miller, Donna M.

Rating: 4.61

Donna Miller, CPA, is the Professional Practice Group Director for the Arizona Office of the Auditor General responsible for the Office’s quality assurance and training functions. Her responsibilities include providing technical research and assistance, overseeing accounting and auditing standards implementation, and performing quality assurance reviews of audit reports and other publications. Donna began her career with the Office in 1994 and previously served as a Financial Audit Manager responsible for governmental financial and compliance audits as well as special Legislature-requested audits. She has been actively involved in various accounting and auditing standards committees and work groups, including the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers pension and OPEB standards accounting and auditing work groups, and has lead peer reviews of other state audit organizations.

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Stelpstra, Michael G.

Rating: 0.00

Michael Stelpstra, CPA, has served the Arizona Office of the Auditor General since 1993 and is currently a manager in the Professional Practice Group responsible for the Office’s quality assurance and training functions. His responsibilities include providing technical research and assistance, assisting with accounting and auditing standards implementation, and performing quality assurance reviews of audit reports and other publications.

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Smith, Scott W.

Rating: 0.00

Scott Smith, Valley Metro CEO

Scott Smith is the CEO of Valley Metro responsible for the operation, design and construction of an expanding regional transit network in metro Phoenix, Arizona. The Valley Metro system is a partnership of 16 cities, towns and Maricopa County, offering bus, light rail, paratransit and vanpool services to more than 73 million riders annually.

Smith’s leadership is a continuation of his public service as the former Mayor of Mesa and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the only Arizona mayor to have served in this position. As Mayor, he strategically guided the 38th largest city in the U.S. to economic rebound between 2008 and 2014. He also has a wealth of experience in the private sector as a certified public accountant, lawyer and CEO of a regional homebuilding and development company. In 2015, Smith served as a Resident Fellow in the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Smith’s passion for public transportation stems from his belief that transportation infrastructure is critically important to the regional, state and national economy and to improving the quality of life for those who need and choose transit as their mobility option. His strong customer service approach keeps the organization focused on serving the interests of several customer groups, including riders, voters, the business community and city leadership.

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Bean, David R.

Rating: 4.82

David R. Bean is the director of research and technical activities for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. He assigns and provides oversight to the GASB’s research, technical, and administrative activities.

Prior to joining the GASB in 1990, David worked in public accounting and government. He also has served as Deputy Chairman of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB). He was the lead author on the 1988 Governmental Accounting, Auditing and Financial Reporting and was the founder of the GAAFR Review. He was the last director of the National Council on Governmental Accounting before the formation of the GASB in 1984.

David is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association, the Connecticut and Illinois Government Finance Officers Associations, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Illinois CPA Society, the Association of Government Accountants, the National Federation of Municipal Analysts, and the Municipal Analysts Group of New York.

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Cotton, David L.

Rating: 4.83

David L. Cotton, CPA, CFE, CGFM, is chairman of Cotton & Company LLP, Certified Public Accountants. Cotton & Company is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. The firm was founded in 1981 and has a practice concentration in assisting Federal and State government agencies, inspectors general, and government grantees and contractors with a variety of government program-related assurance and advisory services. Cotton & Company has performed grant and contract, indirect cost rate, financial statement, financial related, and performance audits for more than two dozen Federal inspectors general as well as numerous other Federal and State agencies and programs.

Cotton & Company’s Federal agency audit clients have included the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Capitol Police, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Cotton & Company also assists numerous Federal agencies in preparing financial statements and improving financial management, accounting, and internal control systems.

Cotton received a BS in mechanical engineering (1971) and an MBA in management science and labor relations (1972) from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. He also pursued graduate studies in accounting and auditing at the University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business (1977 to 1978). Cotton is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM).

Cotton served on the Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards (the Council advises the United States Comptroller General on promulgation of Government Auditing Standards—GAO’s yellow book) from 2006 to 2009. He served on the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Anti-Fraud Programs and Controls Task Force and co-authored Managing the Business Risk of Fraud: A Practical Guide. Cotton served on the American Institute of CPAs Anti-Fraud Task Force and co-authored Management Override: The Achilles Heel of Fraud Prevention. He is the past-chairman of the AICPA Federal Accounting and Auditing Subcommittee and has served on the AICPA Governmental Accounting and Auditing Committee and the Government Technical Standards Subcommittee of the AICPA Professional Ethics Executive Committee. Cotton authored the AICPA’s 8-hour continuing professional education course, Joint and Indirect Cost Allocations—How to Prepare and Audit Them.

Cotton served on the board of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) and on the VSCPA Litigation Services Committee, Professional Ethics Committee, Quality Review Committee, and Governmental Accounting and Auditing Committee. He is member of the Greater Washington Society of CPAs (GWSCPA) and serves on the GWSCPA Professional Ethics Committee. Cotton is a member of the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) and past-advisory board chairman and past-president of the AGA Northern Virginia Chapter. He is also a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Cotton has testified as an expert in governmental accounting, auditing, and fraud issues before the United States Court of Federal Claims and other administrative and judicial bodies.

Cotton has spoken frequently on cost accounting, professional ethics, and auditors’ fraud detection responsibilities under SAS 99, Consideration of Fraud in a Financial Statement Audit. He has been an instructor for the George Washington University masters of accountancy program (Fraud Examination and Forensic Accounting), and instructs for the George Mason University Small Business Development Center (Fundamentals of Accounting for Government Contracts).

Cotton was the recipient of the AGA’s 2006 Barr Award (“to recognize the cumulative achievements of private sector individuals who throughout their careers have served as a role model for others and who have consistently exhibited the highest personal and professional standards”) as well as AGA’s 2012 Educator Award (“to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the education and training of government financial managers”).

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Cocanower, Michael

Rating: 4.78

Michael is the founder and president of itSynergy based in Phoenix, Arizona. itSynergy was founded in 1997 and started as a custom software development company focused on the residential construction industry. Today itSynergy has grown well beyond its original focus and now focuses exclusively on providing strategic technology management for small and midsized organizations on a fixed monthly fee.

Michael has received numerous awards and widespread industry recognition throughout his career. Most recently he was recognized by Arizona State University in the inaugural class of Sun Devil Select to recognize successful alumni entrepreneurs. He was named by the Arizona Republic as one of Arizona’s Top 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35. He was recognized by Microsoft as one of only approximately 50 Most Valuable Professionals in the world on the Small Business Server Platform for some 8 years in a row. Michael’s services have been retained by both Microsoft and Cisco as a subject matter expert in the use and implementation of Microsoft technologies in small and medium businesses. Michael has also served on numerous boards and advisory councils including both the United States and International Board of Directors of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners.

Michael is a Phoenix native and has lived in Arizona his entire life. He graduated from Arizona State University with bachelor’s degrees in both Finance and Computer Information Systems.

Michael lives in Phoenix with his wife Melissa. Both are black belts in the Kung Sul division of Hwa Rang Do, a Korean martial art, and both actively continue their graduate studies in the art of Hwa Rang Do. Michael is also an avid runner and enjoys an extremely active lifestyle which includes his favorite activity of spending time in Mexico with his wife.

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Smith, Karin

Rating: 4.62

Karin Smith received her Master in Business Administration from the University of Arizona. Her other college degrees include a Master of Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University. Karin is also a Certified Administrator in School Finance and Operations (SFO) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

Karin is a member of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO), Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and ASBO International. She also serves on the GFOA's review committee for Popular Annual Financial Reports (PAFRs) and ASBOI's School Finance Professional Committee and Meritorious Budget Awards Advisory Committee.

Karin has spoken professionally at conferences and trainings sponsored by AASBO, ASBOI, Arizona School Board Association, NMASBO, Arizona School Computer Users' Support Group, and the Native American Grant School Association (NAGSA). She has also served as the Chair for AASBO's 2014 Winter Conference, and a committee member for AASBO's 2014 Spring Conference and 2014 Annual Conference. Karin also assisted with revisions to ASBO International's examination for the SFO certification.

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Pun, Ken

Rating: 0.00

Kenneth H. Pun is Managing Partner and Director of the Assurance practice at The Pun Group, LLP, which he founded in 2012 after serving in senior-level positions for large, well-established firms . Under his leadership, The Pun Group has become one of the fastest growing in the region, currently ranking among the top 40, according to the Orange County Business Journal.

The firm’s success stems from its founder’s passion for growing and empowering people to overcome challenges and seize opportunities. Much of that spirit can be traced back to Ken’s vision and personal experience as a young man, when he emigrated to the United States from Hong Kong and overcame the barriers of a new language and culture in his pursuit of the American Dream.

Prior to founding The Pun Group, Ken served on the executive management team at Caporicci & Larson, a specialty CPA firm recognized as one of California’s foremost experts in governmental and not-for-profit accounting, auditing, and advisory services. He joined the firm in 2001 and was promoted to Partner in 2008. He has performed numerous audits for cities, counties, transportation agencies, community college districts, other special districts, and not-for-profit healthcare entities of various sizes.

Leveraging more than 18 years of public accounting experience, Ken has earned a reputation of being a trusted advisor to governmental and not-for-profit organizations throughout California and neighboring states. Municipalities and public agencies engage him because of his premier level of client service, commitment, and innovative methods of increasing operational efficiencies and reducing costs.

Ken maintains his deep commitment to professional education through his work as an instructor for CalCPAs Education Foundation. There, he teaches courses related to audits and quality control in local and state government. He also advises clients on those topics at influential industry forums, including The Pun Group’s Annual Governmental Conference. Internally, Ken mentors audit teams by providing direction and technical guidance to ensure adherence to the firm’s quality controls.

BS Degree in Business Administration, emphasis in Accounting, from the University of California, Riverside

Professional & Civic Affiliations
Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
Member, California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA)
Member, CalCPA Government Accounting and Auditing Committee
Member, Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)
Member, California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO)
Instructor, CalCPA Education Foundation – State and Local Government Audits
Speaker, CSMFO Conference 2014 – Palm Springs
Speaker, California Education Foundation – Fall Series 2014 – Long Beach and Orange County Chapter

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Stavneak, Richard

Rating: 0.00

Richard Stavneak has worked with the Joint Legislative Budget Committee Staff in various capacities for the last 31 years. He was named director in October 1997.

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Burke, Vanessa

Rating: 4.73

Vanessa Burke is a Partner at The Pun Group, LLP, focusing on governmental accounting and financial management. With over 27 years of experience in auditing and finance, Ms. Burke has worked with a broad spectrum of clients, including government, nonprofit, healthcare, technology, manufacturing and distribution, and insurance.
Prior to joining The Pun Group, LLP, Ms. Burke served as managing director for Grant Thornton’s West Region office. Her resume includes public accounting experience with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Moss Adams, as well as serving as a private sector CFO. Much of her expertise in the public sector stems from her work as chief financial officer for the City of Stockton during its high-profile bankruptcy, and as senior advisor for large accounting and advisory firms, guiding the City of San Bernardino and other municipalities through their fiscal challenges.

The veteran CPA is also a sought-after speaker who has presented on many technical and non-technical topics, and is an active member of several professional CPA organizations. In addition to being recognized for her expertise in California municipal finance circles, she is also one of 650 individuals in the United States accredited as a Certified Public Finance Officer by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

Ms. Burke has earned a reputation as a respected financial advisor and dedicated advocate for her clients. She possesses a deep commitment to her profession, and consistently demonstrates the high quality of work ethics and representation her clients expect and deserve.

BS degree in Business Administration (Concentration in Accounting) from California State University, Sacramento.

Professional & Civic Affiliations
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – California
Certified Public Finance Officer (CPFO) – US
Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
Member, California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA)
Member, Governmental Accounting and Auditing Committee of the CalCPA
Co-Chair, CalCPA Annual Government Accounting and Auditing Conference

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Brian Joseph Hemmerle, CPA – Committee Chair - Henry+Horne
Gary Heinfeld, CPA, CGFM - Heinfeld, Meech & Co., PC
Levi D. Gibson, CPA - Pinal County Finance and Purchasing Adminstration
Elisa K. Gin, CPA - City of Mesa
Marilyn M. Mays, CPA - Henry+Horne
Lisa B. Lumbard, CPA, CGFM - Lumbard & Associates, PLLC (A Division of the Pun Group, LLP)
Keith J. Orr, CPA, CGFM - Retired
Jennifer L. Shields, CPA - Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C.
Gerald E. Snyder, CPA, CGFM - Retired
Jaimie Lynnette Soulvie, CPA, CGFM - Arizona Dept. of Transportation
Cheryl Toone, CPA - AZ Dept. of Risk Management
Hyungju Hur, CPA - Fester & Chapman, PLLC

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