University News

School of Government launches budget officer certification course

The three-week program is a partnership between the school and the state budget office.

Students in lecture hall listen to a speaker
Carolina has partnered with the state budget office on a new program in the School of Government. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Through a partnership with the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management, the UNC School of Government is launching a new certification program for state budget professionals in May. With consultation from an advisory board composed of chief financial officers, budget directors and other state budget professionals, the N.C. Certified State Government Budget Professional Program offers a first-of-its-kind in the state certification, awarded by the state budget office, to students upon successful completion of the program and final examination.

Segmented into a three-week curriculum, the program addresses budget officers’ needs as identified and curated by state budget office staff, state agency leadership, school faculty and career-long state budget professionals.

“This innovative partnership between our School of Government and the Office of State Budget and Management offers wonderful opportunity for professionals to gain expert education from leaders in their field. As a former state budget director, I know first-hand the promise of a program like this one and its value to the people of our great state,” said Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts.

In collaborating with the state budget office to design the curriculum, lead school faculty member Whitney Afonso found an equally determined partner.

“This is a really exciting undertaking and I have been extremely fortunate to have a great team,” she said. Among the skillsets she hopes the certification will develop are “data analysis, a better understanding of the law, governmental accounting and much more.”

Kristin Walker talks with Lee Roberts

Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts talks with State Budget Director Kristin Walker on the first day of the new program. Roberts previously served as state budget director. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

State budget office project lead Hallee Haygood, found collaborating with the school similarly enriching.

“Working with the School of Government has been a fantastic experience,” said Haygood, a Carolina Master of Public Administration alumna. “From the start, they have been communicative and ready for all stages of the planning and implementation processes.”

The three-week program provides, she said, “a set of courses packed with skills and knowledge budget professionals across the state will find valuable.”

  • Week 1 (May 20-24) foundational introduction to the state budget process.
  • Week 2 (June 24-28) applied data analysis.
  • Week 3 (Oct. 14-18) systems and language of budgeting. 

When planning the curriculum, Afonso worked with the state budget office to design a training that could meet budget professionals wherever they are on the spectrum of career progression.

“This course is going to provide a critical toolkit for both seasoned budget professionals and those just starting out in their careers,” she said. “The breadth of the course covers everything from how to read and apply the relevant laws to performance management to state and federal grants management. It will be helpful for all in the field.”

While North Carolina will not require completion of the program to determine eligibility for state budget positions, its creators aim for it to serve as a preferred credential and benefit career progression for graduates.

“Certification serves as tangible proof of an employee’s skill and knowledge, positioning them as a beneficial part of any agency. For managers, a Certified State Government Budget Professional becomes a trusted resource in their agency,” said Kristin Walker, state budget director. “Hiring managers gain confidence in certified applicants, knowing they possess requisite skills and knowledge. This program empowers graduates to stand out in their field, which will help advance their careers.”

Afonso wants to see participants improving both their career trajectories as budget professionals and the good of the state’s public sphere.

“These weeks will cover high level concepts and get into how you can actually apply them and use them in your work.  It is really exciting, and I am confident that this program is going to serve our mission and state.”