CONCEPT. The ORM process:
Is a decision making tool people at all levels use to increase operational effectiveness by anticipating
hazards and reducing the potential for loss, thereby increasing the probability of a successful mission.
Advocates harnessing feedback and input from all organizational levels to make the most informed
Exists on three levels: time-critical, deliberate and strategic. Risk decisions must be made at levels of
responsibility that correspond to the degree of risk, considering the mission significance and the
timeliness of the required decision. Enclosure (1) discusses these three levels of risk management
application in more detail.
PRINCIPLES. Apply these basic decision-making principles before executing any anticipated job, action or
mission. As an operation progresses and evolves, personnel should continuously employ risk management
principles during the decision-making process.
Accept No Unnecessary Risk: All Coast Guard operations and daily routines entail risk. Unnecessary
risk conveys no commensurate benefit to safety of a mission. The most logical courses of action for
accomplishing a mission are those meeting all mission requirements while exposing personnel and
resources to the lowest possible risk. ORM provides tools to determine which risk or what degree of
risk is unnecessary.
Accept Necessary Risk When Benefits Outweigh Costs: Compare all identified benefits to all
identified costs. The process of weighing risks against opportunities and benefits helps to maximize
unit capability. Even high-risk endeavors may be undertaken when decision-makers clearly
acknowledge the sum of the benefits exceeds the sum of the costs. Balancing costs and benefits may be
a subjective process open to interpretation. Ultimately, the appropriate decision authority may have to
determine the balance.
Make Risk Decisions at the Appropriate Level: Depending on the situation, anyone can make a risk
decision. However, the appropriate level to make those decisions is that which most effectively
allocates the resources to reduce the risk, eliminate the hazard, and implement controls. Commanders at
all levels must ensure subordinates are aware of their own limitations and when subordinates must refer
a decision to a higher level.
ORM is Just as Critical in Executing as in Planning All Activities: While ORM is critically
important in an operation's planning stages, risk can change dramatically during an actual mission.
Therefore, supervisors and senior leadership should remain flexible and integrate ORM in executing
tasks as much as in planning for them.
10. PROCESS. Figure 1 illustrates the Coast Guard's seven-step ORM process. Enclosure (1) thoroughly
describes each process step, provides some useful models for risk assessment, and outlines the elements of
launching and recovering small boats as an example of a deliberate application of the ORM process.