INSIGHTS: We Asked Our Readers..

How Does Your Community Minimize Risk to the Organization and Its Employees? [PM Magazine, May 2019]

May 3, 2019 | ARTICLE
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Deborah Sargent

City Manager, Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada (

At the city of Campbell River, we recognize risk on a number of fronts. We minimize potential problems and work to protect our employees, community members, our organization’s reputation, and the investment of public funds by following comprehensive procedures, policies, and practices, and through a culture of continuous improvement. We employ a safety advisor and a purchasing and risk management officer. We call upon legal counsel for timely advice as required.

Specifically, the city focuses on:

  • Asset management, by protecting public investment and community services.
  • Health and safety, by protecting people and the environment.
  • Operations and service continuity, by conducting scheduled risk management inspections and providing reports on risk exposure.
  • Procurement and project management, by prequalifying bidders and basing contracts on provincial master municipal construction documents.
  • Professional development and employee retention, with a corporate culture that maintains a positive workplace.
  • Property damage, by reducing the risk of damage to public and private property.
  • Public safety, by instituting an extensive risk policy.
  • Reputation management, through a commitment to progressive community development and proactive communications and issues management.

Amanda Mack, EMPA

City Manager, Spencer City, Iowa (

The city of Spencer takes the time to regularly review both our internal and external processes and procedures. We especially take time to review risk mitigation after major events occur. This past summer, our community was struck with several incidents of flooding. During and after each event we reviewed our plans, procedures, and processes and were able to adapt “on the fly” when necessary. We asked ourselves, “what worked well, what didn’t, where can we improve for the next event” and then worked to implement those changes.

Additionally, Spencer spends a great deal of time working through long-range infrastructure planning. This, in and of itself, is a risk mitigation process that is helpful to the city staff, council, and community.

The final piece we put into place regarding risk mitigation is clear communications. We have built a strong communication structure that allows us to share information both internally and externally in an efficient and appropriate manner. We have built a culture that allows employees to provide feedback on that communication structure and offer improvements. By leaning into clear communications, employees are able to meet challenges head on and not find themselves in a situation where they are uninformed or unprepared to deal with that challenge.