Doug Webster, former chief financial officer at the Department of Education, discusses enterprise risk management in the federal government, and why implementing it requires big cultural changes.
Both the Office of Management and Budget and the Government Accountability Office have released risk management guidance for government agencies. Doug Webster, former chief financial officer at the Department of Education, says that one of the most important things to think about when implementing ERM is culture. “The biggest challenge of enterprise risk management, whether it’s public sector or private sector, is getting a culture willing to be transparent on what the risks are. Too often folks think of risk as something bad. ‘I don’t want to acknowledge my risk because it says I am not doing my job.’ Quite to the contrary,” Webster said. “Risks are a matter of life, and if you don’t recognize those risks, then you can’t manage them. It’s very, very important that we develop this culture where risk is not viewed as a bad thing and ‘I am doing my job’ and we’re willing to communicate risk to higher ups.”