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Todd Grams on His Enterprise Risk, Financial Mgmt Focus at Deloitte and Public-Private Collaboration

Todd Grams on His Enterprise Risk, Financial Mgmt Focus at Deloitte and Public-Private Collaboration - top government contractors - best government contracting event


Todd Grams made the jump from a nearly two-decade career in the Senior Executive Service to the private sector earlier this year when he joined Deloitte to help federal agencies with initiatives in enterprise risk and financial management.

His career in federal government service includes time as chief financial officer and chief information officer at the Internal Revenue Service, CFO at the Department of Veterans Affairs and CFO for the VA’s Veterans Health Administration.

In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Grams discusses his experience in enterprise risk and financial management in government and how he aims to leverage that background in his new role. He also overviews the role of the private sector in helping agencies in those areas.


ExecutiveBiz: When did you officially join Deloitte and what led you to join the firm after such a long career in government service?

Todd Grams: I joined Deloitte in April 2014. During my career in government I had many great opportunities, including serving over 20 years as a senior executive. While there are always more opportunities to do important and meaningful work within the government, I wanted to try something new and different while staying engaged with my true passion: helping the federal government operate more effectively and efficiently. My new position at Deloitte gives me that opportunity.


ExecutiveBiz: In connection to the two particular areas of your experience, enterprise risk and financial management, which areas will you focus on at Deloitte?

Todd Grams: I’ll be concentrating principally on enterprise risk management and also working with agencies on performance and financial management. I strongly believe that Federal agencies can increase performance by implementing standard and sound risk management practices. Discussions of risk, however, frequently center only on how to prevent something negative from occurring.

It’s just as important to focus on how taking risk can also help make something good happen—that is, be a positive driver of performance and outcomes. When you think about risk management in those terms, it can be viewed as a two-sided coin and an important part of an agency’s overall management program.


ExecutiveBiz: What barriers does the government face when implementing new financial and risk management processes at agencies?

Todd Grams: The barriers are greater for efforts in enterprise risk management than in financial management or performance management simply because enterprise risk management is a newer concept for federal agencies.

An example of a specific barrier is not having a common risk framework. Such a framework is needed to manage risk at an enterprise-wide level. This includes governance, roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures, and systems – to mention a few of the framework components. This takes time and resources, but you can no more manage risk without these components than you can manage finances or information technology, where these same components have been long recognized as essential and are used every day in Federal agencies.

Another is resources. Starting up a new program or enhancing an existing one takes an investment in resources and can easily become a barrier because many agencies in today’s fiscal environment have to make tough resource decisions. All new programs must compete with other activities across the agency for funding.


ExecutiveBiz: Where does industry provide the best help to agencies in terms of performance management and financial management?

Todd Grams: Industry can provide help in enterprise risk management in addition to financial management and performance management. Generally speaking, agencies have more mature systems developed in financial and performance management. By adding risk management, you help the agency identify the potential for loss or harm, or the diminished opportunity for gain, that can adversely affect the achievement of an organization’s mission.

Generally speaking, the private sector is ahead of the Federal sector when it comes to risk management. The experience from years of work in commercial risk management can be brought to bear to help Federal agencies.


ExecutiveBiz: What other areas in the business aspect can public and private sectors work closer with the government?

Todd Grams: A true collaboration or public/private partnership can work well for the federal government in some cases. When I was chief information officer at the IRS, the agency benefitted when we brought in people from the private sector to work on certain projects. This kind of partnership can help the government operate more effectively and efficiently especially in areas such as IT and enterprise risk management.


ExecutiveBiz: Are there any areas that you’d like to go more in‑depth on or any final thoughts that you’d like to offer?

Todd Grams: Accepting, mitigating or leveraging risk should be viewed as an integral part of an organization’s strategic decision-making processes. Enterprise Risk Management is a program that helps agencies make informed decisions about how to manage their risks.  ERM helps agencies decide which opportunities to pursue and which hazards to avoid based on their own unique goals, the levels of risk they can accept among programs, and organizational structure. It’s my pleasure to be working with agencies to strengthen ERM across the federal government and, thereby, improve the effectiveness of federal programs.

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Written by Ross Wilkers

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