Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Financial Management (PA-FIN) 3: Financial Planning

Financial planning is data-driven, agency-wide, and involves key stakeholders.
2020 Edition




The agency's ability to achieve its mission is based on sound financial managment practices that ensure efficient, data-informed use of its resources in accord with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
Examples: Some agencies may develop or utilize a financial planning model to provide a framework for:
  1. clarifying the linkage between strategic planning and resource allocation decisions;
  2. resource allocation that is outcomes-oriented, consumer-centric, and data-driven; and 
  3. supporting and promoting long-term financial sustainability.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed administration and management infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity
  • Documents that demonstrate budget planning for current fiscal year including:
    1. Financial data reports
    2. Finance-related performance improvement data reports 
  • Fiscal summary reviews from the previous fiscal year including budget-to-actual variance analysis 
  • Financial reports to oversight authority for previous fiscal year 
  • Cost analysis reports for previous fiscal year 
State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
  • Documents that demonstrate regional budget planning (reports, planning meeting minutes for the current fiscal year, etc.)
County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity
  • Budget planning meeting minutes 
  • Annual budget
  • Documentation of advocacy efforts including copies of reports, budget proposals, meeting minutes, etc. 
State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
  • No On-Site Evidence
County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Fiscal authority
    2. Agency leadership
    3. CFO or equivalent
State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Regional Director
    2. Financial personnel

Fundamental Practice

PA-FIN 3.01

Budget planning is a collaboration between the agency’s administrative, program, field, and budget personnel and is based on:
  1. performance improvement and outcomes data; 
  2. the agency’s mission, and strategic priorities; 
  3. direct and indirect operating expenditures; and 
  4. anticipated revenue for the fiscal year.
Examples: Performance improvement and outcomes data in this context refers to the use of program and client outcomes data in planning and budgeting decisions. Such data may be used, for example, to direct available resources toward programs or interventions that have the strongest impact on individuals and families served.

Fundamental Practice

PA-FIN 3.02

Financial information is routinely analyzed and includes:
  1. a monthly and annual analysis of financial performance against budget projection with budget-to-actual variance analyses performed on interim financial statements of activities; and
  2. service revenues and actual service delivery costs.
NA State-administered agency regional office


PA-FIN 3.03

The agency conducts cost analyses of contracted services at established intervals and the information is used to analyze operational effectiveness and efficiency and to monitor trends, current experiences, and changes in costs. 
NA The agency is a network management entity.

NA State-administered agency regional office

NA Contracting is managed by an external department.


PA-FIN 3.04

When necessary, agency leadership advocates for increased funding as part of the budget planning process by:
  1. articulating resource needs as they relate to improved outcomes for individuals and families; and
  2. establishing methods to track and report on annual progress towards achieving long-term goals.
NA State-administered agency regional office
Examples: For child and family services agencies, implementation of PA-FIN 3.04 can include tracking and reporting out on the agency’s progress toward achieving the outcomes identified in the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) and the funding that will be required to meet related performance improvement goals.