Certified Government Financial Manager Test

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Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)


The CGFM (Certified Government Financial Manager) program is a credentialing process administered by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). The AGA began in 1950 as a professional association for accountants working in the federal government. In 1975, the association expanded to include those working at the state and local government levels, and became the AGA as it is known today.[1] In 1974, the AGA surveyed its constituents to determine their opinion on developing a certification program for government accountants, and an ad hoc committee was formed to study the issue. At the time, accounting certifications were beginning to proliferate and government accounting experience was not yet counted toward the requirements for earning the industry standard CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation. During this era, there was also talk of having the AGA professional membership submit questions specific to government accounting for inclusion in the general CPA exam.[2] Despite the controversies, serious efforts to establish a unique certification for government financial professionals were not renewed until the fall of 1981, when a standing Certification Committee was formed. A new membership study showed great interest in developing a certification program, but efforts were tabled in the mid-1980’s due to lack of interest at the local and state levels. At the same time, however, the AGA began working in concert with the IIA (Internal Auditing Association) to develop the Board Certified Government Auditor (BCGA) program.[3] Despite continued lack of interest on the part of AGA members, the Board of Directors established a “Professional Certification Board” to administer the newly created CGFM program. Initially, experienced financial professionals would be grandfathered in, and awarded the credential based on experience alone. In 1995, the Certification Board began developing credentialing exams which would be required for certification after the end of the grandfathering period in mid-1996. Three separate exams were developed and in 1997 they became the basis for credentialing new CGFMs.[4]

Function of the Test

CGFM Study Guide

The CGFM program is designed to provide public sector financial managers with a pathway to professional recognition and career success. In addition to taking and passing the three exams included in the CGFM program, individuals must meet ethical, educational and professional experience standards in order to be awarded the CGFM designation.[5] Public sector financial managers often seek certification because it enhances their career opportunities.[6] Professionals who hold the CGFM credential also have greater earning power. According to a 2010 salary survey, the average salary of a CGFM was $105,815; this is 34% greater than those who hold other certifications and a full 55% more than the average salary of their peers who held no professional certifications.[7] Exam candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree, or be within one year of successfully completing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, in order to take the CGFM exams. For those that take and pass the exams prior to graduating, the credential will be awarded only after they supply proof of having completed their degree program.[8] To earn the CGFM credential, candidates must also meet a professional experience requirement by completing at least two years of professional level work experience in government finance within 5 years of applying for the CGFM program. While most CGFM candidates work directly for government agencies, some private sector roles may qualify as government financial management; for example, auditing or providing financial services to government agencies as an employee of a private financial accounting firm.[9] In addition to meeting the above requirements, candidates must take and pass all three CGFM exams in order to be awarded the credential:

  • Governmental Environment,
  • Governmental Accounting, Financial Reporting and Budgeting, and
  • Governmental Financial Management and Control.[10]

Test Administration

CGFM Flashcards

Once approved, candidates may schedule and pay for their exams online or via telephone directly with the exam vendor, Pearson VUE. Exams are given throughout the year at testing centers across the United States. The cost to take each of the three exams is $125.[11] Candidates must take all three exams within the three-year eligibility window once their application has been approved. Exams can be taken in any order.[12] Candidates with disabilities as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may request special accommodations at the time of application by completing a “Special Testing Accommodations Request Form” and supplying documentation of their disability along with recommended special accommodations completed by a qualified health care professional.[13] Candidates may retake an exam they did not pass after a 30 day waiting period by re-registering and paying the appropriate fee; subsequent retakes of the same exam require a 90-day period between attempts. Waiting periods apply only to the specific exam a candidate did not pass.[14]

Test Format

Sections of the CGFM Test
CGFM Tests # of Questions
Governmental Environment 115
Governmental Accounting 115
Governmental Financial Management and Control 115
Total 345

Test Structure

The CFGM consists of three different exams: Governmental Environment; Governmental Accounting, Financial Reporting and Budgeting; and Governmental Financial Management and Control. Each of the three exams contain 115 questions. Time allotted to complete all 115 questions is two hours and fifteen minutes.[15]

Test Environment

Candidates are expected to arrive at the testing center at least half an hour before the exam is scheduled to begin. For admission, two forms of identification are required. One of the two must contain a photo, and both must have a signature. Personal items are not allowed into the testing room. This includes foods, drinks, cell phones, etc... A locker will be provided to store all personal belongings in for the duration of the test.[16]

Sample Questions


Each exam form contains questions of varying difficulty and, to accommodate these differences, raw scores are converted to scaled scores for purposes of determining a candidate’s pass/fail status. Scaled scores range from 200 to 700 points. A scaled score of 500 is required to pass each of the three exams. Candidates will be notified of their pass/fail status at the testing center after completing each exam. Detailed scaled score reports are only provided to those who do not pass, so that they may focus on areas that require more study before retaking the exam.[17]


  1. ^ AGA History June 19, 2015
  2. ^ FGAA/AGA 1970-1979 June 19, 2015
  3. ^ AGA 1980-1989 June 19, 2015
  4. ^ AGA 1990-1991 June 19, 2015
  5. ^ The Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) June 19, 2015
  6. ^ What is a Certified Government Financial Manager? June 21, 2015
  7. ^ AGA 2010 Compensation Survey Report: The Value of CGFM Certification June 21, 2015
  8. ^ CGFM Education Requirement June 19, 2015
  9. ^ CGFM Professional Experience Requirement June 19, 2015
  10. ^ CGFM Examination Scheduling and Procedures June 21, 2015
  11. ^ CGFM Examination Scheduling and Procedures June 21, 2015
  12. ^ Frequently Asked Questions June 21, 2015
  13. ^ Special Testing Accommodations Request Form June 21, 2015
  14. ^ CGFM Examination Scheduling and Procedures June 21, 2015
  15. ^ CGFM FAQ 10 June 2015
  16. ^ Exam Procedures 10 June 2015
  17. ^ CGFM Examination Scheduling and Procedures June 21, 2015