Background to the guide

The scale and variety of the risks which government have to deal with makes risk management in the public sector challenging. Significant events over the last few years have included a pandemic, cost-of-living crisis, inflation and interest rate rises, and geopolitical conflicts.

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Government must carefully balance short-term demands with long term preparedness, making tough choices and trade-offs with finite resources and capacity.

Robust and effective risk management is essential to achieving government’s ambitions and objectives and securing long-term value for money.

Scope of the guide

This guide is for senior leaders and risk practitioners across government with ways to help overcome the challenges to managing risks.

The guide outlines 10 approaches to overcome these challenges and each approach is supported by:

  • An outline of why this is a priority for government
  • Case studies and quotes
  • Practical tips

We have drawn our insights from our reports, the experiences of our insight teams, and the thoughts of a range of leaders and practitioners from our audited bodies and external organisations across industry and academia.

How to use this guide

We’ve used quotes, case studies, examples from our body of work and actions to take to illustrate the 10 different approaches. You can read the guide in one go or just dip into individual sections.

Our insights are not mandatory guidance but complement existing government guidance on risk.

Please note: the PDF has some interactivity that will not work in full-screen mode on your browser. To view it in full-screen mode, download the PDF to your computer and open it in Adobe Acrobat.

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Assessment template

Our assessment template is a way of measuring an organisation’s risk management performance against the approaches set out in our good practice guide. It can be used alongside the guide as a way to drive discussions between leaders and practitioners or as part of an occasional check.

The template includes the ten approaches to overcoming the challenges of managing risks in government. Each section contains a number of measures which you can assess against. There is also space for you to add further points for discussion and actions to take forward.

Every organisation is different – whether in terms of size, complexity, or resources dedicated to risk management. We recommend that the assessment template is used proportionately and revisited at appropriate time intervals.

Please note: When using the PDF and the assessment template please download and save your own versions using Acrobat/ Reader rather than a third-party PDF viewer. Adobe Reader users must have Reader 8 or a later version.