Using the findings from ACCA’s survey of over 400 people working in the public sector across the globe, this guide explores what risk means for public sector organisations and how, in the light of those risks, they prepare for the challenges ahead.

Effective public sector organisations need clear objectives, a strong understanding of the threats and opportunities they face, and an effective risk management process. 

Finance professionals in the public sector can take a lead in supporting their organisations recognising and addressing different types of risk. 

By building on their core skills and being open to new approaches, finance professionals can help to build a more resilient public sector. 

Focus on risk

This guide emphasises the importance of public sector finance professionals understanding risk management and having clarity about their role in the process. It is clear from the survey that there is considerable work to be done in some public sector organisations to fulfil the potential of finance professionals in the risk management process. 

The reports looks at:

  • What risk is – the first step in managing risk is defining it.
  • What risks the public sector faces – identifying and categorising risk.
  • Deciding what to prioritise – assessing risks in the public sector.
  • How the public sector can address risks – responding to, reporting and monitoring risk. 
  • Building resilience in a volatile world.

The public sector has been at the forefront of responding to a series of shocks and crises that have disrupted the global economy and society in the first part of the 21st century.

The new norm

This will become the new norm. The survey found that three-quarters of respondents believe risks to their organisation will increase in the future.

Public sector bodies need to be better prepared and they need to be resilient. Just as the finance function is well-placed to recognise organisation-wide risks, so finance professionals must be at the heart of managing risk and building resilience.

Illustrating the work that is happening in the public sector on risk management and resilience building, the report includes examples from a wide range of organisations, including:

  • Office of the Accountant General’s Risk Management Support Unit, South Africa
  • HM Revenue & Customs, UK 
  • Government of Jamaica
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand
  • British Columbia Government, Canada