On the cutting edge: Emerging issues and best practices for ensuring effective compliance programs

13 minute read

When establishing and implementing a compliance program, most organizations attempt to follow the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations (FSG) § 8B2.1 Effective Compliance and Ethics Program.[1]

The elements of an FSG compliance program include:

  1. High-level company personnel who exercise effective oversight and have direct reporting authority to the governing body or appropriate subgroup (e.g., audit committee);

  2. Written policies and procedures;

  3. Training and education;

  4. Lines of communication;

  5. Standards enforced through well-publicized disciplinary guidelines;

  6. Internal compliance monitoring;

  7. Response to detected offenses (including remediation of harm caused by criminal conduct) and corrective action plans (including assessment and modification of the compliance and ethics program); and

  8. Periodic risk assessments.

While the FSG set forth basic elements of an effective compliance program, they make clear that no single compliance program design fits every organization, and an organization’s industry, size, structure, and mission all influence program design and operation.

The challenge for compliance professionals trying to implement and monitor an effective FSG compliance program is that nothing happens if you do your job really well and have a little luck. Thus, every compliance officer faces the challenge of how to answer the same existential question: “Is your compliance program effective?”

Compliance professionals can take heart that recently, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Division has provided an updated guidance memo that sets forth additional detail regarding its expectations of effective compliance programs. In this article, we synthesize the recent DOJ guidance and provide suggested best practices. Also, new tools—such as Capability Maturity Models (CMM)—are discussed, which can be adapted for measuring compliance program effectiveness.

This document is only available to members. Please log in or become a member.

Would you like to read this entire article?

If you already subscribe to this publication, just log in. If not, let us send you an email with a link that will allow you to read the entire article for free. Just complete the following form.

* required field