AFERM Newsletter, Issue 31, January 2020

This 31st issue of the quarterly AFERM Newsletter includes thought leadership articles from ERM practitioners with The MIL Corp, MorganFranklin, Navigator Solutions, and Workiva. Also, be sure to note the many ERM events upcoming. You may register for any of them from the ERM Events list.
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President’s Corner

Ken FletcherFocus for 2020

By Ken Fletcher

I want to begin my first President’s Corner message by welcoming our new board members and committee chairs: Nicole Puri as President Elect; Alice Miller and Sean Vineyard as Vice Presidents; Thomas Holland as Secretary; and Doug Webster as Treasurer Elect. The new committee chairs are Cynthia Vitters, Corporate Advisory Group (CAG); Varun Malhotra, Programs; Meredith Stein, 2020 Summit Planning; Ed Hau, Infrastructure and Operations; Irene Marchand and Janice Ho, Volunteers; and Alex Ng, Audit. Thank you to all the previous board members and committee chairs for your support and dedication to AFERM during your service as leaders of the Association.

A frequent question I’ve been asked during the past few months is what I want to focus on and accomplish during my tenure as AFERM President. I’ve had the opportunity to discuss this topic individually with board members, our CAG, and more broadly with several committee chairs at the December board meeting. In short, my focus this year will be to strengthen the foundation of AFERM to help ensure it is sustainable over the long-term. Let me explain what this means and start by providing some of the rationale for why I believe this focus is important.

Since the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the revision to Circular A-123, incorporating enterprise risk management (ERM), including renaming this guidance to “Management’s Responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Control,” AFERM has grown significantly. At present, the Association has around 600 members, and is supported by seven (7) Platinum and 15 Silver level sponsors. Our growth has been accompanied by an increase in activities and offerings to our members, including webinars, podcasts, workshops, a blog, and the RIMS-CRMP Federal ERM micro-certification developed in partnership with AFERM. In addition to RIMS, we now have collaborative relationships with other leading professional associations, including the Association of Governmental Accountants (AGA) and the Senior Executives Association (SEA). AFERM’s Board approved expanding its partnerships to other associations and universities with an eye on creating original co-branded ERM research of interest to our members. Membership feedback solicited via focus groups and surveys conducted last summer tells us that our members value these offerings and they want to see them continue and expand.

This array of initiatives moves us beyond providing a forum for networking, collaboration and promoting ERM in the Federal government, and it is difficult to evaluate which initiatives to pursue without a defined strategy. I am concerned that AFERM may find it challenging to sustain and guide these efforts considering our all-volunteer business model, our constrained infrastructure, and our limited annual revenue. What I have presented to the CAG and the Board is a sustainability project on which to focus this year.

This project consists of several interconnected efforts that will guide AFERM over the coming years, and it begins with developing a sustainability strategy. Once the strategy is approved, we will use it as the guide for revising AFERM’s strategic goals and objectives. We have also started identifying and assessing the pros and cons of several business model options so that have the information needed to determine which operating model bests support the approved strategy. With a clear strategy, revised strategic goals and objectives, and an understanding of the best operating model, we will then begin identifying the revenue requirements and revenue streams needed to support AFERM going forward.

We presented a high-level sustainability project plan and milestones to the Board for approval at the December meeting. At a high level, key milestones and activities planned over the next four (4) months include: December 2019 – Board approval of project plan and milestones and Board approval of a past-president advisory council; January 2020 – Board begins review and modifying strawman AFERM Strategy; February 2020 – Board approval of draft AFERM Strategy; February/March 2020 – present AFERM Strategy to membership for ratification; April 2020 – complete strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, begin developing a five-year strategic plan, and complete a detailed analysis of business operating model options.

Please note that these milestones include an ad hoc membership meeting on March 11th from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm at Grant Thorton’s office. Historically, we have only held membership meetings in conjunction with the annual AFERM Summit, but as we work to define our “north star” that will guide AFERM over the next five+ years, I believe it is important for members to have the opportunity to ratify the proposed strategy. Stay tuned for additional information on this meeting as we work on finding a venue in DC and determine how members can participate remotely if they are unable to attend in person. We are considering tying this membership meeting with a social event.

Finally, I hope each of you and your families had a wonderful time over the recent holiday period. On behalf of the Board, best wishes to all of you for a very prosperous and happy 2020.

Thank you for the honor of serving as President of this wonderful Association.

All the best,

Ken Fletcher, AFERM President, may be contacted at