AFERM Newsletter, Issue 28, February 2019

This is the 28th issue of the quarterly AFERM Newsletter! It includes thought leadership articles from ERM practitioners with Grant Thornton, the IBM Center for the Business of Government, and Morgan Franklin.

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President’s Corner

ERM and Recovering from the Partial Government Shutdown

By Tom Brandt

As I write this message, a quarter of the federal government is recovering from the partial shutdown, with another deadline looming on the horizon for Congress and the President to reach a resolution for keeping government operations running through the rest of the fiscal year. While the prospect of a lapse in appropriations is a risk most agencies have identified and are required to plan for, the chance one would occur lasting more than 30 days was not considered to be of high likelihood. Yet this low-likelihood event did occur, and, as we all saw, the impacts were widespread, worsened over time, and are still now being identified and assessed.

I hope that the risk community was called upon to help agencies respond to and recover from the shutdown, although, in discussions with colleagues and peers, it seems there was a high degree of variability in the extent to which that has occurred. That means there may be an opportunity for risk professionals across the federal government to offer assistance in identifying and assessing shutdown related risks that may have or could still manifest and threaten the delivery of mission objectives. We can work with business lines to determine response strategies, and, as importantly, explore ways to partner with our business continuity and lapse planning teams to determine how to enable greater resiliency in the event of future disruptions to our operations.

It’s also possible, given several bills that have been introduced in Congress, that the threat of future shutdowns or lapses may be eliminated via legislation that would, for example, keep agencies open and operating at prior year funding levels. While such laws would eliminate one type of risk, they could create new ones, especially alternative bills that would impose escalating reductions to agency budgets the longer operations continued without the adoption of new appropriations. AFERM will stay attuned to developments in this area and provide forums for discussion at future events as appropriate.

Due to the shutdown, we were unable to host Don Kettl for a discussion of his research and report on “Lessons for Improving Government Management from GAO’s High Risk List”, but thanks to Paul Marshall, we have a Risk Chat with Professor Kettl available on the AFERM web site. Take a listen to hear about actions agencies can take to get off (or stay off) the High Risk List, but also to hear how being on the List can help agencies manage and mitigate significant, long-standing risks.

If you weren’t a member of the inaugural class that earned the RIMS-CRMP-FED credential in 2018, we hope you’ll consider pursuing the credential this year. Through our continued partnership with RIMS, AFERM members can complete the prep course and take the test at a reduced rate. See our web page for further details and dates.

Planning is already underway for the 2019 AFERM Summit. As all-volunteer organization, we actively encourage your continued support and ideas for programs and events, and we welcome additional volunteers to help with the Summit — contact to learn how you can help.

Thank you,

Tom Brandt, AFERM President, may be contacted at