A proposed change in U.S. sentencing guidelines would give more importance to compliance programs when an organization is convicted of a crime. The recommendation is part of a report from an ad hoc advisory group made up of defense attorneys and government officials. The group said recent corporate misconduct at the highest levels underscores the need for greater governance oversight and concluded that the effectiveness of organizations' compliance programs should be considered in sentencing. Its recommendations to the U.S. Sentencing Commission include defining compliance standards and procedures, calling on compliance programs to include training, education and anonymous reporting, and establishing the importance of an organizational culture of compliance.
If adopted, the recommendations would be the first revision to organizational sentencing guidelines in 12 years and a clear statement of the role of an organization's board and senior management in compliance oversight, said healthcare lawyer Michael Peregrine of Gardner, Carton & Douglas, Chicago. "These recommendations will be important to organizations across the board, not only because they propose refinements that detail the importance of compliance programs but also because they reiterate the importance of board oversight," Peregrine said. Read the advisory group's report.-- by Mark Taylor