Giving the Institute of Risk Management's annual lecture in June, Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said that his office was working with government departments to improve their risk management and assist them in well thought-through risk taking. He suggested that civil service culture was risk ignorant, in that people were not aware of the risks they were taking and therefore unable to assess and manage them. Too often, there were no pilot tests, or adequate training within programmes, nor were there contingency plans in place But progress was now being made.
The NAO's report Supporting Innovation: Managing Risk in Government Departments, makes recommendations that closely align with existing practices in the private sector. They include linking risks to objectives; supporting and promoting from the top; communicating benefits; embedding good practice and harnessing opportunities for innovation.
The NAO report is available at www.nao.gov.uk