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Reduce risk, run programs more efficiently

Innovative Washington program gains national attention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — December 2, 2008

OLYMPIA — With plummeting revenues and rising costs, state governments are trying to find ways to stretch taxpayer dollars. Many are now looking at an innovative risk management program in Washington state that helps state agencies reduce risk so they can better use scarce resources to deliver critical services.

Washington’s approach was recently highlighted at an enterprise risk management forum hosted by North Carolina State University and attended by 200 business leaders, certified public accountants and risk managers from other state governments.

Enterprise risk management requires an organization to define its goals, identify risks to reaching those goals and decide how to address these risks for better results. While ERM is practiced by many organizations, Washington was singled out for its success in training state agencies on its use — and for publicly tracking how well it works.

Drew Zavatsky, who oversees the loss prevention group for the Office of Financial Management’s Risk Management Division, was the keynote speaker. Zavatsky was the first state-level official asked to speak to forum attendees, following in the footsteps of risk management executives from Fortune 500 companies and the Internal Revenue Service.

More than 40 agencies and 500 agency staff have participated in the sessions designed and led by Zavatsky.

ERM maturity model scores are reported and tracked at Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Government Management, Accountability and Performance forums to measure progress in using ERM on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 the best score. In 2006, before the training sessions were started, only four of the 32 agencies reporting on ERM had a score of 5. By 2008, all had achieved scores of 5 or 6.

“ERM is an evolving field, especially in the public sector,” Zavatsky said. “The innovative work done by Washington state agencies is leading the way for other states.”

ERM can be especially helpful during tough times, Zavatsky said. “It is inexpensive and easy for agencies to learn and provides a clear way to set priorities so that resources can be deployed to reduce risk and save money.”

To learn more about ERM, visit http://www.ofm.wa.gov/rmd/publications/default.asp.

Note to Editor: Zavatsky’s expenses were covered by North Carolina State University.

Contact: Kate Lykins Brown, Office of Financial Management, 360-902-0619