The Honorable Theresa M. Grafenstine is the Inspector General of the U.S. House of Representatives (House). Ms. Grafenstine brings a variety of public service and non-profit experience to the House. Over the past twenty years, she has served in the Inspector General community in both the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government. She is also an active volunteer in support of the information technology, governance, internal auditing, and accounting professions.
On July 30, 2010, Theresa M. Grafenstine became the first woman to be named the Inspector General of the U.S. House of Representatives, having been unanimously appointed by the House Speaker, Majority Leader, and Minority Leader. As the Inspector General, she is responsible for planning and leading independent, non-partisan audits, advisories, and investigations of the financial and administrative functions of the House. Ms. Grafenstine has been with the House Office of Inspector General (OIG) since 1998 serving in a variety of roles, including Deputy Inspector General. Prior to joining the House OIG, Ms. Grafenstine served at the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Inspector General where she led acquisition audits of major weapon systems and was selected to respond to high-profile Congressional audit requests.
Ms. Grafenstine is an active volunteer in support of the information technology, governance, internal auditing, and accounting professions. She serves on multiple leadership committees for the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), a large international non-profit dedicated to information security governance and audit professionals, and on the Assurance Services Executive Committee for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the accounting standards setting body for the United States. Ms. Grafenstine also provides financial oversight support as an audit committee member for the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, the third largest credit union in the United States, and to the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, the largest office of Inspector General in the U.S. federal government.
Ms. Grafenstine is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and she holds the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) credentials from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) and the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified in the Governance of Enterprise Information Technology (CGEIT), and Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) credentials from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). Ms. Grafenstine received a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Terry, thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.
“….Thank you. I’m really excited at the opportunity to talk with you and your audience….”
Terry you’ve broken many barriers and you’ve been a pioneer in many ways. Can your profile your history prior to the current role and any lessons you wish to share?
“….The value of critical thinking….Really understanding a problem and not losing sight of the big picture when we make a recommendation….The value of networking and building relationships….”
Terry can your profile your current role and your measurable goals?
“….As Inspector General of the US House of Representatives I’m responsible for planning and leading independent, non-partisan audits, advisories and investigations of the financial and administrative functions of the House….I’ve made significant investments in my staff through technical training and through reduced reliance on contractors, which has resulted in a significant reduction in what it costs to run my organization….It’s these types of things that are helping us in the Inspector General’s office and are the things that I’m measuring my success by….”
What led you to be the first woman to achieve your position and how can you leverage this unique history?
“….I found that if you immerse yourself in what it is that you want to be you eventually become that — you start to begin picking up all the relevant skills you need….I want to be able to get out there as a woman and encourage children to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and really get out there and show that there are role models in the field who are women and minorities, to people who traditionally have not been drawn to this STEM field….”
You’ve broken barriers and you are a pioneer — have you encountered bias or even unconscious bias during your journey or do you feel it is getting a lot better now?
“….Especially here at the House, I’ve never sensed any bias — I felt that being a woman has neither given me an advantage or a disadvantage….”
What are some best practices and useful lessons that can you share from your job as Inspector General?
“….Practice what you preach….Be proactive….Don’t be the king of the small….The importance of incorporating diversity into your organization….You need to be that constructive advisor….”
What kind of hours do you typically put in a week? Is it a typical 40 hour week or a 60 or 80 hour week?
“….It depends on what the issues are going on….”
Terry, what were your five top takeaways from the ISACA World Congress that provide value to governments, industry and academia?
“….It was truly an international conference. We had so many countries represented….A recurring theme was cyber-security….There’s a lot of value and risk with social networking….I think our biggest challenge right now as leaders is making sure that we’re getting adequate skilled professionals in the pipeline….Another area would be globalization. Part of that is a lot of organizations that used to be certain country based are becoming global and there are a lot of rewards to that, but there are certain risks and things that we need to be on the lookout for….”
What value do you deliver in your roles with ISACA and what measurable impact would this value have on the listening audience?
“….The value I think I provide, at least at the local level, was making sure that we had low-cost training opportunities for thousands of members that we had and making sure that we had top-notch speakers on a recurring basis….One of the other things is I’m the chairman of their Communities committee (an online community that you can get at ISACA.org), which is structured into different areas of knowledge and has discussion areas where fellow professionals can ask each other about problems and experiences….I’ve been on the organizing committee for the World Congress for the past two years and that’s been a terrific experience in the sense that we bring professionals from around the world to meet together to discuss problems….Most recently I’ve joined ISACA’s Strategic Advisory Council. What we’re doing there is that we will be able to help set the strategic vision for ISACA as a global organization….”
Where would you like to see yourself in your ISACA roles in 5 years? And in your professional life with the House as Inspector General, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“….I absolutely love my job. I come in here every day and feel like I contribute in a meaningful way and I’m so proud to work where I work. I think as long as I have that feeling, I want to stay here….I’ve been with ISACA now from chapter level all the way through to the international level for about 12 years. It is very important to me and it would be such an honor for it to eventually become more a leadership role so I could help drive the overall direction of the organization that has meant so much to me and has given me so much in my career development….”
How can we grow diversity and women in industry?
“….I think that it’s a pipeline issue. What I mean is that I don’t think there’s a lot of women and diversity minorities in our industry in STEM types of fields. I think you need to get kids interested in technology earlier in their education….”
I know that you are leading initiatives within your own organization to support diversity and you’ve talked about some of that already. Do you have programs outside your organization, in other words, I’m looking at it from a broader perspective — what are you doing to support diversity in many domains?
“….Because I have a public role in a sense, where I have a lot of opportunities to speak at events, whenever I’m at any professional event, whether AICPA, ISACA, Institute of Internal Auditors, a college or alumni event, even at my kid’s school (whenever I’m invited to speak anywhere), I try to get the word out about opportunities in the technology career field….It’s about giving the message out to as diverse an audience as possible….”
What do you see as the top disruptive technologies? What are your tips or your lessons, your forecasts of what our audience should be watching for or how they can manage these issues associated with these technologies?
“….Anything that gives us lots of rewards tends to have its own set of risks that we need to be aware of….Virtualization….Penetration of IT to just about every facet of business….Cloud….Audio and video analytics….Natural language question answering….”
What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and recognized non-licensing based credentials?
[See http://www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council, http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
“…..I don’t think that you or I are advocating that at this point the computing profession should have some form of formal licensing process. I don’t think that we’re mature enough to have that, but I think that additional structure would benefit the profession….I think it would be a worthwhile effort to make computing a recognized profession that has some element of demonstrated professional development and code of ethics. I think that all lends to the credence and credibility of computing as a profession….”
Terry, from your extensive speaking, travels, and work, please share three stories (examples: amusing, surprising, unexpected, amazing).
“….Do you know what you auditors are, you are the ones who come in after the battle and bayonet the wounded?….”
Terry, if you were conducting this interview, what three questions would you ask and then what would be your answers?
“….How do you know that the candidate is the right person for your organization?….What are the key ingredients to your success?….Right now with this environment with such limited resources with all these economic woes across the world, how does a leader continue to provide excellent service when we are being pulled here and there and being asked to do more with less?….”
Music by Sunny Smith Productions and Shaun O’Leary