Improving communication, to and from Alarm members, will be my highest priority, says Simon Wills

As I join ALARM it is self-evident that the public sector is undergoing a period of rapid change. In some areas funding is increasing, in others decreasing. In all areas expectations are high and in all areas delivery is the subject of increasing political and public scrutiny.

There is no indication that these pressures will decrease and every indication that they will increase.

This general picture is reflected in the agenda of the public sector risk manager. An agenda that, in common with our private sector colleagues, is already crowded with issues raised in a world of increasing knowledge and perception of risk and feelings of insecurity.

In such a volatile environment the general objective of Alarm is clear; we exist to support our members. This basic goal defines our objectives and our actions. It certainly defines Alarm's plans for the year ahead and informs my work schedule. In practical terms these plans translate into programmes of engagement, training support, professional support and creating influence.

Engagement is fundamental and an area in which Alarm seeks to improve. Our members are our greatest resource and we need to increase the opportunities for individual members to contribute to our work. We also need to ensure that we are better able to respond to our member demands. This means that, over the next year, improving internal communication, to our members and from our members, will be my highest priority.

The objective of providing support is also critical. Public sector risk management is a fast developing discipline and as a consequence the demands placed upon our membership are high and increasing. Alarm has a key role in providing support to individual members in the development of their own careers, and a role in developing standards and tools which take forward practice in the sector as a whole.

Ensuring the organisation is able to develop, resource and sustain such support is also high on my immediate priority list.

Alarm can be, and needs to be, innovative in terms of delivery and product. The best current example would be the work Alarm is undertaking in partnership to establish a recognised professional risk management qualification specific to the public sector. To support this we will develop and deliver a full programme of professional training and support for our members, designed with our members to ensure their ongoing professional development. This will be taken forward as a matter of priority.

Finally, Alarm aims to create an environment in which the contribution of public sector risk managers is enabled and is appreciated. This of course means that council and I will, on our members' behalf, seek to influence the legislative and policy agenda of government.

It also means, and this is a much harder task, that we need to positively influence the culture and mind-set of senior public sector management. I will be developing a clear strategy and programme of work to help achieve this.

Risk management is not an optional extra and neither are risk managers. Risk management is an essential management discipline and is becoming to be recognised as such. The role of Alarm is to support our members in the practice of this discipline and to ensure that the value of good risk management is fully understood and fully appreciated.

I have a busy year ahead in growing Alarm in stature and profile in a managed and sustained way.

  • u Simon Wills is chief executive of Alarm, the national forum for risk management in the public sector
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