Managing risk before it manages you

Last month I attended the International Disaster Conference & Expo in New Orleans along with former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. It was an extraordinary event with more than 1,400 people from 27 countries represented. The prominent list of speakers, including Secretary Ridge, made it clear that the topic of crisis management, emergency response and post-event remediation are high priorities in the U.S. and across a number of the countries represented.

Looking back on the conference and Secretary Ridge’s keynote, there were several important takeaways for state and local leaders:

  • It is vital that risk assessment and risk remediation be an integral part of any leader’s management plans and program.
  • Continuing to improve our information sharing capabilities should be a high priority across federal, state and local levels of government.
  • Issues of technology interoperability and expanded bandwidth support for communication should also be a high priority.
  • There are significant opportunities to take advantage of available data analytic capabilities to facilitate risk assessment and risk management in various areas of risk.
  • Finally, the importance of well-thought, public-private partnering is also a clear imperative and a number of successes and leading practices were evident at the conference.

I recently spent some time with an outstanding leader, former White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend. In the course of our discussion, we shared our mutual view that risk management and risk assessment should not only be a high priority to the federal, state, and local leaders in the U.S., but to corporate boards as well. I’m pleased that Deloitte is taking a leadership role in developing tools, methods and provocative points of view on improving our public and commercial risk assessment and risk management capabilities.

One additional thought: It was good to be back in New Orleans and to see the level of progress that has been made since Hurricane Katrina. I had the good fortune of spending a considerable amount of time in Louisiana in the early 1990s. Although signs of the devastation are still evident in certain areas, state leadership in partnership with the federal government has made progress in rebuilding the city and rebuilding the economy. It was truly good to see.

As always, I would value your perspective and comments, and hope 2012 is shaping up to be a wonderful year for you.

Mr. Robert N. Campbell III is Vice Chairman, Principal, Deloitte LLP and is the U.S. State Government Leader, based in Austin, TX

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