If your organization finds itself the target of a government investigation, trying to control what your employees
say to government investigators is a losing
proposition. Attempting to do so not only
will cause your organization to lose all
credibility, but you will be deemed
not to have cooperated with the
government’s investigation; such
cooperation being a crucial factor
considered by the government
when weighing whether to pursue
an enforcement action against
you. If that doesn’t convince you
that trying to control what your
employees may say to investigators is folly,
consider this: it just won’t work anyway.
So erase all thoughts of controlling
what employees may say; you should focus
on knowing, in advance, what they might
say. That not only helps you prepare any
possible defense but hopefully allows you
to take corrective actions to rectify cultural
deficiencies and help shape the image your
employees put forth.
Early in most investigations, the
government will conduct an assessment
of a target organization’s compliance
and ethics program. This is part of their
inquiry into whether the program is
effective, as described in chapter eight of
the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. An
effective compliance and ethics program
is essential to a declined prosecution—or
at least to a reduction in your culpability
score—leading to a reduction in fines
and/or prison time in the event of a
It is essential that you conduct such
an assessment on your own before the
government ever turns its attention to you.
A critical part of your program assessment
is the cultural assessment.
Know what your employees are likely
to say when asked critical questions such
as: Do you have a compliance and ethics
program? Who is your compliance officer?
Do you know how to seek guidance or
report wrongdoing? Are you comfortable
reporting wrongdoing? Does management
act with integrity? Have you ever been
asked to do something you believed
Get the idea? Develop a survey asking
these and other questions that take a
critical look at just what your culture is.
Do it now. ✵
Art Weiss ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer
at TAMKO Building Products in Joplin, MO.
by Art Weiss, JD, CCEP‑F, CCEP‑I
What will they say?
THE ART OF COMPLIANCE
An effective compliance and
ethics program is essential to
a declined prosecution—or
at least to a reduction in your
culpability score—leading to
a reduction in fines and/or
prison time in the event of a