But the biggest issue for CFMA attendees was the nation's continuing economic uncertainty.

Anirban Basu, a CFMA adviser and an economist at the Sage Policy Group, Baltimore, told the crowd of financial officers that Europe's ongoing struggles, combined with continued congressional inaction on pending changes to tax rates and regulations, will result in extending the U.S. economic slowdown into 2013.

Without some resolution on those two matters, Basu said, "We can't conclude that next year will be a year of growth. Neither can investors, and neither can anyone trying to push a project forward."

CFMA Chairwoman Urbani took Basu's comments to mean contractor backlogs, which lately have increased some, could decrease again. "We need to proceed cautiously," she said.