Thought Leadership Thursday
Advocating & Collaborating
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
2020 has brought challenges none of us could have ever expected. My admiration for those who serve the public has only grown during this crisis. In addition to those on the front line providing health care and emergency response services, the work of State Treasurers and their staffs has been truly extraordinary. From supporting the emergency procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) to planning budgets that will be impacted by the unprecedented loss in tax revenues, the tireless work of these dedicated public servants has been inspiring.
It has also been encouraging to see State Treasurers come together with one voice in a non-partisan way to advocate for the interests of state and local governments. NAST has been an active and visible advocate for the public interest throughout the crisis, including the following issues.
Fraud awareness: Unfortunately, the crisis has not brought out the best of everyone. During the initial stages of response to the coronavirus, governments have gone into high gear and used emergency procurement processes to source necessary PPE at record levels. While demand for the equipment and urgency for which it is needed is understandably high, those conditions have created an opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to exploit the situation.
While most staffs are well-versed on the basics of fraud prevention, the circumstances we now face bring reasons for all of us to be ever more vigilant. This is because many employees are working remotely, there is enormous pressure to deliver vital equipment, sourcing companies are frequently not familiar to the procurement staff, there are often brokers introduced into the process and payments are often very large. All of those factors require that the process be followed carefully and deliberately. To the greatest extent possible, extra due diligence should be done on the recipients of payments, especially if they are with new providers of goods or services.
Technology: As many of us moved to a work-from-home environment, it has brought many interesting challenges and some clear benefits. It was extraordinary how fast both governments and those of us in the financial services industry shifted to remote working. Doing so during a crisis, with many additional demands on all parties, made it imperative that communications be quickly established to keep critical functions in operation. In some ways, we feel more closely connected to our government clients today than ever before. The demands of the crisis have certainly caused the frequency and pace of communications to increase, but the technology has given us an opportunity to function effectively.
We have all quickly become accustomed to meetings via Zoom (and other similar platforms) and in some ways, they have brought us closer together. The crisis has also presented governments with an opportunity to examine their business continuity plans in real time and look for ways to efficiently and effectively conduct business. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in delivering services. For example, we will see technology-enabled learning environments increasingly used for trainings and other functions. While it is disappointing to not be able to get together in person for this year’s Treasury Management Training Symposium, we will use the technology together to create compelling and relevant content for Treasurers and their staffs. I hope you will join me virtually and register soon.
On behalf of the Corporate Affiliates of NAST, please accept our gratitude for all that you do for us every day. All of us are as committed as ever to support you and our communities. We look forward to seeing you, even if only virtually, in the coming weeks and months.
Michael J. Nevins