ERM: Tactics, Trends for Public Entities

To get the attention of elected officials at public entities, it is important to discuss what matters to them – cost of risk.

The public sector faces a set of unique risks and challenges. In this session at the RIMS 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibition, members of the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) discussed trending topics related to public entity risk management. Speakers included:
  • David Demchak, president & CEO, Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency
  • Raymond Sibley, director of risk management, City and County of Denver
  • Gary Langsdale, university risk officer, Pennsylvania State University
  • Jane Waters, insurance program administrator, DC Office of Risk Management
  • Mark Walls, vice president, communications and strategic analysis, Safety National (moderator)
How do you educate elected officials on the value of risk management?
  • To get their attention, it is important to discuss what matters to them – cost. We developed a total cost of risk model and showed them their losses relevant to them. For instance, showing cost per student for a school district is easier to understand than a straight dollar amount.
  • It’s best to educate them as soon as possible when they get appointed. Get to them first. Show them how risk management supports all of the agencies. When you help them, or get them out of trouble, they tend to come back to you as a resource.
  • Equating cost to an item – the cost of a fire truck, staff hours, the cost of a teacher’s salary – helps tremendously.
See also: The Globalization of Risk Management   Law enforcement liability is a hot topic. What challenges are you facing?
  • Officer-involved shootings, the use of force and the use of deadly force are trending up. We started looking by the selection process. There is a dwindling supply of job candidates, and our vetting process was outdated. We spent a tremendous amount of time updating how we recruit. In fact, we found that recruiting from within the community is very effective. Psychological screening and proper onboarding is also very important on the front end, so we overhauled those processes.
  • Profiling accusations are high. The advent of body cams can help to calm communities that certain actions were legitimate, but not every police force has them. Those that have implemented body cams have experienced very positive results. A picture is worth a thousand words.
If you are in a state without court liability caps, how do you deal with that?
  • This has a huge impact in how we react. In many cases, we have a strong bias to push a reasonable settlement rather than risk a rogue jury verdict. Many times, juries are motivated by emotion and award accordingly.
See also: Cognitive Biases and Risk Management   PTSD is creeping its way into workers’ comp benefits. What is your experience with PTSD claims?
  • It’s brand new. Anyone can file a PTSD claim; it’s not just public safety employees. So far, from what we have seen, none of the claims quite fit the definition, but I expect we will see many in the future.
  • We have three layers of help – early reporting, peer counseling and individual psychological help. You cannot report a PTSD claim until over 30 days, so we are hoping these resources will alleviate these situations before they become a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can be a very helpful resource in this situation. They may have solutions to help you handle this.

Mark Walls

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Mark Walls

Mark Walls is the vice president, client engagement, at Safety National.

He is also the founder of the Work Comp Analysis Group on LinkedIn, which is the largest discussion community dedicated to workers' compensation issues.


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