cutting look at risks across NIH, (3) Identify risks and proactively manage those that present the highest risk to NIH, (4) Develop data and information about NIH risks, and (5) Improve strategic planning with data and information about risks. Figure 6-1 illustrates NIH’s risk management methodology.

Several issues are apparent in implementing this methodology. To begin with, the key subject matter experts need to be involved, particularly in identifying risks. Risks are scored based on the impact that it could have on the organization and the likelihood of that risk occurring. They are then plotted. Those risks that are of high likelihood and high impact are where effort should be focused.

Ms. Servis gave a hypothetical example to illustrate. Suppose an inexperienced researcher removes tissue samples from an organization without patient authorization. Then the researcher’s interest in personal gain could undermine the rights of human subjects, creating a conflict of interest. In the “assess phase” it might be determined whether researchers had received the required training in human subject protection. If the result is a finding that fifteen percent of researchers had not received the training, the business owner would be tasked with formally tracking the completion of training, and to develop a corrective action plan to fix the problem. Developing policies to communicate the importance of training to the research community, or to restrict researchers who have not completed training from participating in protocols, represent other options.

Risks and corrective action plans need to be inventoried and monitored over time, because they change. If significant progress is made, the risk might be rescored. Management should be provided with regular information on what risk assessments are being done, the results, and corrective action plans.


Maria Velez de Berliner, Managing Partner at Intelligent Decision Partners, LLC, discussed the less obvious risks that sometimes can do significant damage to organizations. These risks may arise from external political, economic, or social conditions. Decision-makers need to recognize the global nature of risk, and understand that information will usually find its way to the public arena.

One element is the nature of governments. Democratic governments have a proclivity to interfere in collaborations. Some research—on atomic

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement