MTAS Specialist Publishes Study on CMFO Program

Chris Shults, a grants and training specialist with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) and David Folz, professor and director of the master of public administration and public policy program at UT Knoxville, recently published a paper in the State and Local Government Review. The paper examines a study the pair conducted on the MTAS Certified Municipal Finance Officer program.


Many academics and practitioners value professional training and certification programs as important ways to improve management practice and organizational performance. However, these programs often are among the first cutback targets in times of fiscal stress. Evidence that documents the actual impacts of specialized training and certification on public organizational performance is sparse. This longitudinal panel study examines the effects of a state-mandated Certified Municipal Finance Officer program on cities’ financial management performance and finds that the program had a statistically significant independent impact on the observed reduction in the number of annual outside audit findings. The program’s impact on improved financial management performance underscores the need for scholars to evaluate similar programs, the results from which may help to alter public officials’ cutback calculus and restore public confidence in the public service.

To read the paper in its entirety, visit (