Chapter President: 'Message Should be Just as Important as the Messenger'




Robert A. Goehring, CFE, CPA
President, ACFE Pacific Northwest Chapter

After attending a fraud prevention seminar more than 30 years ago, Robert Goehring, CFE, knew he wanted to serve and protect his local community. He has been a board member of the Pacific Northwest ACFE Chapter since 2001. He has served on the board in several capacities, including president, where he has been since 2012. Goehring is working hard to grow chapter membership, motivate students to apply for the chapter scholarship and encourage members to speak at local events. When he has time, Robert enjoys taking Alaskan cruises with his wife. 

Why did you decide to enter the anti-fraud field?
Shortly after joining the Washington State Auditor’s Office in August of 1987, I attended a fraud prevention training class provided by Joseph R. Dervaes, CFE, CIA, former ACFE Regent, and the founding President of the Pacific Northwest ACFE Chapter. Joe brought his profound expertise and passion for the prevention of fraud in the public sector, something that really inspired me and validated my decision to serve the taxpayers of the state of Washington. This experience ultimately drove my desire to focus on fraud prevention, detection and investigation. As City Auditor, I always emphasize to management and staff that strong internal controls protect staff, as well as safeguard assets from waste, theft and abuse.

How has the CFE benefited your career?
I have often believed that the message should be just as important as the messenger. However, I strongly believe that the CFE professional credential adds credibility and, therefore, value to any organization, especially when it comes to messaging the importance of internal controls as a tool to deter and detect fraud.

Why did you become active with the chapter and the Board?
While with the Washington State Auditor’s Office, I joined the Special Investigations Division where I had the opportunity to grow and learn from the best, including Joe Dervaes. Joe encouraged me to obtain the CFE credential and become involved with the chapter, including seeking leadership opportunities in service to the chapter and others who share our common fight against fraud.

What has been a highlight during your time on the Board?
After many years of co-hosting an annual fraud conference with the Washington State Society of CPA’s, in May 2015 the chapter hosted its own first annual fraud conference. The training and networking opportunities were outstanding for the 61 conference attendees. It was an honor and privilege to serve with such an outstanding Board of Officers in making this event possible for chapter members and other interested parties.

What are the benefits of serving as a chapter leader?
The primary benefit is being in a position to fight fraud through providing training, college outreach and scholarships. On a secondary note, the financial benefits include, but are not limited to, the waiver of registration fees for the chapter’s annual fraud conference.

What goals would you like to help the chapter accomplish?
The chapter conducts four fraud seminars annually and hosts an annual one-day fraud conference. The Chapter Student Scholarship program provides one $1,000 scholarship to a full-time university student seeking a major or minor in accounting, business administration, finance or criminal justice program in the State of Washington.

As president, I share the Board’s goal of encouraging more chapter members and others to serve as speakers at these training events, and encouraging more students to apply for the Chapter Student Scholarship Program.

Do you have any advice for other chapter leaders? 
The Pacific Northwest ACFE Chapter’s Board of Officers is comprised of an outstanding group of eight individuals who all share the load in service to the chapter. I believe that is the most important piece I could offer for any chapter: share the workload because of the personal and communal achievements that result.

What is your personal motto? Does it have any special meaning?
My parents, Lee and Margie Goehring, raised me to have a strong work ethic with a special emphasis on character and ethics. So, I guess my two mottos would be:  “Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet” (Seneca), and “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do” (Potter Stewart).

Also, to quote former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify” is a phrase that I often use with respect to the safeguarding of public funds from loss.

What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
After 30 years in this field, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve in two great organizations: the Washington State Auditor’s Office and the City of Kent. On a personal note, the completion of my tenth marathon was pretty special too. However, after three knee operations, I question the wisdom of the quest.

What are your favorite activities and hobbies outside of work?
I really enjoy gardening, making homemade greeting cards and baking pies (the latter of which has seemingly become part of my job description at the City of Kent). Growing up in the Tri-Cities, Washington, I am a big proponent of nuclear power. As a hobby, I created a “Hanford” corner in my office complete with a Geiger counter, maps of the B Reactor site and various other items.

My wife Kim and I really enjoy going on Alaska cruises, and spending time together. Sadly, we lost our son Duane last year, at age 28, which really brought into focus the importance of family and cherishing the time we have together.

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