WASHINGTON, D.C. (FEBRUARY 8, 2016).  The Washington State Department of Revenue’s Enterprise Risk Management program is winner of the 2016 FTA Award for Management and Organization.  Judges awarded the Wisconsin Department of Revenue an honorable mention in the category for its employee engagement program.
Awards will be presented at the FTA Annual Meeting, June 12-15 in Annapolis, Md. The winning agencies have been invited to present the details of their programs during the Management breakout.
Judges were Harley Duncan, KPMG; Clare Calaby, Internal Revenue Service; and Lila Disque, Multistate Tax Commission.
Washington State’s program is a comprehensive approach to minimizing the risk of mistakes in a government operation. The traditional approach for government to minimize risk is to generate policies and procedures. The Department of Revenue says its new Enterprise Risk Management  approach can better identify and address the unique risks faced by a tax agency.
The program recognizes that, for a tax agency, risk management goes beyond employee safety to include a fiduciary responsibility to the state. Risk management must consider risks at the strategic level of the organization and define areas that could keep the agency from achieving its business plan goals. The program establishes a disciplined approach for employees to identify and tackle all the types of obstacles that would impede success.
The agency has refined the program as it matures, creating tools such as a Risk Radar and a Fundamentals Map (which includes outcome measures and process measures), and developing a “risk appetite.”
Judges said the approach would be complex for other states to adopt but that it is an important program, in part because “it shows that you have risk other than people taking cash. Risk management is important. We’re not just collection agencies. We’re doing more customer services, data services, financial services. This helps you focus and get the big picture.”
Judges named Wisconsin as an honorable mention winner because of the program’s easy-to-adopt approach. Wisconsin’s program is based on a tightly designed employee survey taken in 2014 and again in 2015 that yielded concrete action plans for improvement. Strategies put in place after the 2014 survey included enhanced morning meetings with the Secretary, posting Lean project successes on the agency’s internal blog and publicly acknowledging when an idea by an employee is used in a decision or process.
Judges called the program “a good effort, straightforward, easy and simple. Wisconsin deserves plaudits. Wisconsin definitely did it right. They kept it focused. It’s a good management tool for them.  They had actionable ideas on how to improve. A lot of people could just take this and begin to do it.”
About the organization: The Federation of Tax Administrators is a nonprofit association composed of the taxation and revenue agencies in the 50 states, District of Columbia, New York City and Philadelphia. Its principal programs are rooted in information exchange, training and intergovernmental coordination. Its mission is to improve the standards and methods of tax administration.


Verenda Smith
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