Rebecca Walker and Jeff Kaplan of Kaplan & Walker LLP are pleased to announce the launch of the Compliance Program Assessment Blog (www.complianceprogramassessmentblog.com).
“We have each been conducting compliance and ethics [“C&E”] program assessments since the 1990s and are very happy to have this opportunity to share publicly assessment-related best practices and other practical ideas and information,” Kaplan said. “Although program assessments have long been recognized by both enforcement officials and C&E professionals as essential to promoting and maintaining program efficacy, many companies are just now taking their first steps in this area. We hope that the Blog will be of assistance to them in this rewarding but challenging facet of ensuring good corporate citizenship,” Walker added.
The Blog will address, among other topics:
- Assessment mandates and benefits. We will survey and analyze the growing body of legal standards and other official expectations for conducting C&E program assessments, as well as business-related reasons to do so.
- Assessment methods. The Blog will review the various tools used in conducting assessments – interviews, documents reviews, surveys, focus groups, benchmarking, etc. – and provide guidance on the when, where, who and how of each. We will also address:
- The issue of when and how to conduct an assessment under the attorney-client privilege and related matters of confidentiality.
- Questions concerning the size and scope of assessments.
- What to know and to look out for in formulating findings and recommendations, and in drafting and disseminating an assessment report.
- How frequently companies should assess their programs.
- The interplay between program and risk assessments.
- The role of the board of directors and of senior management in assessments.
- The use of maturity models and other frameworks in assessments.
- Program elements. For each of the major elements and sub-elements of a C&E program – program management and oversight, policies, procedures, training, auditing, helplines, incentives, etc. – we will consider what to look for both in terms of efficacy and opportunities for improvement.
- Program attributes. We will explore criteria for use in assessing key characteristics of an effective C&E program that “cut across” individual program elements, such as independence and sufficiency of resources.
- Culture. The Blog will discuss the various hallmarks of an ethical organizational culture, and how they can be effectively measured – perhaps the most challenging of all aspects of conducting a program assessment.
- Social science research findings and survey data. Increasingly, assessments are expected to have scientific or quantitative dimensions, and the Blog will discuss approaches to meeting those expectations, such as through the use of publicly available survey data and by adapting “behavioral ethics” ideas and information to the compliance program setting.
Our plan is to spend the next few months building the site out with foundational posts. After that, we will encourage other practitioners to submit guest posts (although we will not accept advertising). We may also conduct interviews for the Blog.
We hope that you find the Compliance Program Assessment Blog useful and – in the spirit of its subject matter – that you will let us know how we can continuously improve.