The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced significant changes to its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (ECCP) on March 2, 2023, at the American Bar Association’s National Institute on White Collar Crime. By investigating deeper into companies’ compliance programs, DOJ now provides new stricter guidelines and emphasizes its vigilance and the level of commitment expected from companies. The latest announcement illustrates DOJ’s continued emphasis on company policies regarding compliance incentives and disincentives in executive compensation and the preservation of company communications made via personal devices and instant messaging applications.
In the graphic novel and film “The Watchmen,” there is a reoccurring phrase: “Who watches the watchmen?” In context, it’s an indictment of the comic book world’s broken justice system. However, in a compliance context, the concept can be just as important. In a recent discussion with a hospital system’s compliance officer, he raised the point that a company’s compliance department is seen as the ultimate authority and expertise in laws and regulations, monitoring compliance and noncompliance, and implementing corrective and disciplinary actions. Yet while many compliance professionals may assume that their actions are always compliant, who oversees those who are overseeing systems and organizations? Who ensures that compliance is compliant?