Risk management in the inspection of social services: Guidelines for best practice


The OECD has included risk management as one of the 11 guidelines for optimal practice in the regulation and enforcement of services and of social services in particular. Risk management is one of the work methodologies that supports the process of decision making under uncertainty, and it is at the foundation of regulatory policy. According to this methodology, the resources invested in inspection should be in line with the level of risk, and the enforcement activity should be directed toward reducing the risk resulting from non-compliance with the requirements and standards of service provision.

The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute was asked by the Quality and Regulation Division within the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services to review the literature on risk management and best practices in the inspection of social services, as part of the process of formulating the Ministry’s inspection policy.


The goal of the review is to gain insight into the management of risk within the inspection of social services. The review is meant to answer the following questions: (1) What is risk management policy in the inspection of social services and what are its goals? (2) How is this methodology used in the inspection tasks? (3) What are the guidelines for best practice in risk management on a day-to-day basis and in an emergency?


The review is based on a variety of information sources: academic articles from the professional literature, both in Israel and other countries; information from public sources (Internet sites, official documents and articles in the media); and information from inspection organizations in the following countries: England, Scotland, Australia, Sweden and Croatia.

Findings and insights

The review indicates that risk management policy is interwoven within the broader policy of inspection organizations responsible for social services. This is not a one-time or random risk-focused activity but rather a “way of life” in an inspection organization and in the cyclical and systematic process of planning, execution, assessment and drawing of conclusions.

Best practice implementation of risk management calls for the inspection organizations to first thoughtfully map the risks to the achievement of their goals – ensuring the safety and welfare of service recipients. In some cases, it is also necessary to map the risks to the stability of service providers.

Following that, they need to develop monitoring mechanisms and to make correct use of them, in order to expose the information relevant to the identification of risk from a variety of sources. This should be accomplished in parallel to the mapping of resources available to the inspection organization and their prioritization according to the inspection objectives. Finally, it is important to train inspectors in risk-oriented monitoring and enforcement.