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Elevating Compliance: A Holistic Approach to Program Enhancement and Adaptation

As professionals dedicated to compliance, the imperative of continuous improvement in ethics and compliance programs remains steadfast. Yet, there is a tendency to narrow the focus solely on the central elements, neglecting ancillary factors that wield substantial influence over program success. In this context, I advocate for a comprehensive review that transcends the customary pillars, examining three often overlooked components: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), job descriptions, and organizational structure.

Elevating Compliance

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, serve as indispensable measures of progress towards program goals. Nevertheless, when was the last occasion we critically evaluated the pertinence of the KPIs established years ago? It is essential to assess their alignment with modern compliance programs and leverage advancements such as data analytics. In light of the U.S. government's heightened emphasis on data in compliance, have we contemplated integrating data analytics-related KPIs? Is there room for behavioral science to contribute to the refinement of our KPIs?

Job descriptions, constituting a fundamental aspect, often undergo superficial revisions without comprehensive scrutiny. Many compliance roles persist in unnecessarily mandating a U.S. juris doctor and bar admission—a practice that may run counter to recent guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG advocates for the independence of compliance officers and cautions against reporting into legal. Job descriptions must align with these expectations, avoiding misleading titles and responsibilities that imply legal practice.


Organizational structure and reporting lines, intricately connected with job descriptions, demand evaluation. Does the prevailing setup foster an independent and empowered compliance function? While the OIG's guidance is specific to life sciences and healthcare, it prompts a universal need for reflection. Should legal and compliance departments persist as distinct entities? Is it time to reassess subject matter expertise allocation, potentially establishing roles such as Chief Information Officer for data privacy or Sustainability Lead for ESG matters?

The overarching theme underscores the necessity for ongoing review and adaptation in the dynamic landscape of ethics and compliance. The compliance function should evolve in response to government expectations, organizational dynamics, and the changing field of ethics. The objective is not to prescribe a specific structure but to encourage practitioners to think expansively beyond traditional boundaries.

In conclusion, the efforts toward continuous improvement should extend beyond the central elements of compliance programs. A rigorous evaluation of KPIs, job descriptions, and organizational structures is imperative to ensure program effectiveness in today's ever-evolving landscape. Let us embrace a holistic approach to compliance that encompasses these ancillary elements, recognizing their potential to significantly impact program execution.



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