In conjunction with the Sloan Finance and Policy Club, the Center led approximately 20 graduate students on a trek of Washington, D.C. on March 10 to tour a few of the most important agencies at the intersection of government and finance. The objective of the trip was to show students the opportunities in public service for those with a background in finance, whether in the United States or abroad. As a preview of spring days before a late winter storm, the budding cherry blossoms greeted our group to the nation’s capital.
The first stop on the trek was at the iconic Department of the Treasury, located just a block from the White House. After walking through beautiful corridors lined with historical portraits, the group settled in a conference room to meet with Scott Bell, a Senior Staff Accountant at Treasury who leads the preparation of the Financial Report of the U.S. Government and the associated Citizens Guide. Mr. Bell gave a presentation in which he discussed the state of the nation’s finances, how such assessments are constructed, and projections for the future. The discussion shed light on the unique challenges of financial reporting in government.
Next, the group met with a panel from Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), which supports the development of strong financial sectors and sound public financial management in developing countries by providing expertise. After an introduction to OTA by Acting Director Jason Orlando, the group heard from an expert from each of OTA’s core disciplines: revenue policy and administration; budget and financial accountability; government debt and infrastructure finance; banking and financial services; and economic crimes.
The trek wrapped up with a visit to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Here the group was treated to a surprise meeting venue – the Board Room itself. As students discussed the Federal Reserve System with Deputy Director David Sidari, a lucky few were seated in the chairs of Chair Yellen, Vice Chairman Fischer, Governor Brainard, Governor Powell, and Governor Tarullo. Mr. Sidari provided a tremendous overview of the Federal Reserve System, weaving its history, structure, and functions into an enthralling presentation.