For the 34th consecutive year, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Accounting Department received the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

The Nation’s annual financial report received the certificate. The GFOA award honors governments who achieve excellence in financial reporting through comprehensive and transparent accounting practices, according to the GFOA.

“We’re the only tribe that I’m aware of to have received this many consecutive awards,” said CPN Chief Financial Officer Mary Chisholm. “It is kind of nice to walk down the hall and see the just the volume” of GFAO awards.

Chisholm believes the achievement says the Nation is thriving under its consistent leadership.

“We’ve been able to maintain that consistency for three plus decades now. That’s a long time,” she said. “I think it also says a lot about the quality of staff that we have to maintain that consistency.”

The GFOA uses a very lengthy checklist on how financial data is to be presented for many different criteria. The report also addresses the relationships between Tribal government entities.

Financial reporting rules and regulations change over time, so the accounting staff must stay on top of the changes. CPN maintains a high level of quality in spite of the complex nature of the financial report, she said.

“They’re the best staff. I’m very proud of every one of them. They all do their part. It takes all of us doing our part to put out a good report every year that can win this certificate. If that quality of staff wasn’t here and present and doing their job, it would be a whole lot more difficult when it came time to put everything together into this,” she said.

As the Nation has grown and continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and the management of the American Rescue Plan Act funds, the process to put together the annual report becomes more complicated.

Chisholm does not expect the focus on ARPA to change anytime soon.

“Even in fiscal year ‘23, we just recently received ARPA funding. Until that wanes and we’re able to put that funding to good use, there is not any ‘return to normal,’” she said. “I think it’s still at the top of our mind whether it be in reporting, in how things can be spent and just the details in the inner workings of those funds. And we still have a number of years to complete that.”

Chisholm and her department will continue to maintain their high standards.

“It’s always exciting to get notice that we’ve received the certificate. Again, I wouldn’t say that it’s expected, but we do everything in our power to make sure that we keep it. If we make excellence the normal day to day, then this is just a normal day to day,” she said.

The GFOA established the award in 1945 to encourage state and local governments to excel beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare annual comprehensive financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal.

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