Corporate Compliance & Ethics in Washington, D.C.

How do prosecutors and other enforcement officials determine whether punishment for criminal or civil wrongdoing will be imposed on a company rather than only upon individual bad actors? That determination often turns on whether the misconduct occurred (1) in the absence of a meaningful corporate compliance program, or (2) in spite of the company maintaining an appropriately mature and effective corporate compliance program.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines make clear that fostering an organizational culture that effectively promotes ethical conduct and a commitment to compliance with the law, as well as maintaining standards of conduct and internal controls that reduce the likelihood of criminal conduct, is important for any company and a key factor in making corporate charging decisions.

For many federal contractors, the FAR goes further still and requires the establishment of an internal control system that includes, at a minimum: “standards and procedures to facilitate timely discovery of improper conduct related to government contracts.” FAR 52.203-13(c)(2). Failing to maintain an effective corporate compliance program as a federal contractor can result in the loss of contracts, corporate liability, and even debarment – the corporate ‘death penalty’ for a government contractor.

Why Hire Ward & Berry PLLC

We routinely conduct gap assessments on companies’ existing compliance and ethics programs to assess their general status, structure, maturity and effectiveness – and then identify what modifications, supplements, or actions, may be appropriate to further develop and mature a particular program. By retaining Ward & Berry for a compliance program gap assessment, our clients demonstrate their commitment to compliance with all laws and regulations and to maintaining a reputation as an ethical business partner and contractor.

To best assist our clients, Ryan Berry became a Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional (CCEP) in 2016. He and Ward & Berry’s other corporate compliance attorneys provide periodic training to our clients on critical compliance topics, such as mandatory reporting requirements, code of conduct, responding to government investigations, anti-corruption, combating human trafficking, fraud prevention, and whistleblower protection.  We are here to help you with whatever your pressing compliance needs are.

Some of our representative compliance engagements include:

  • Shepherding various government contractors through government contract risk assessments, compliance audits, and compliance program development efforts.
  • Advising global private security services providers on compliance with United States and host nation laws and regulations in performing services abroad in support of federal contracts.
  • Training employees of various federal contractors on anti-corruption, combating human trafficking, business ethics, and other compliance topics.
  • Designing global anticorruption policy and implementing procedures for a large international freight forwarder with operations throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.
  • Conducting anti-corruption due diligence on an Indian acquisition target of U.S. technology company.
  • Conducting an anti-corruption compliance audit of U.S. defense contractor operating in Afghanistan.
  • Conducting an anti-corruption risk assessment for a gaming conglomerate weighing expansion in Africa.
  • Conducting due diligence on our clients’ potential business partners and agents.
  • Advising a major firearms manufacturer on entertainment expenses and related anti-corruption compliance in connection with factory visits and product demonstrations to foreign government delegations.
  • Serving, on a temporary basis, as the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of a client company while assisting in the corporate search for a suitable replacement candidates.

Why Do You Need a Corporate Compliance and Ethics Attorney?

Failing to implement and maintain an effective corporate compliance program can be disastrous for a company. Working with Ward & Berry’s corporate compliance attorneys now is a sound investment in your company’s future.

Our attorneys help prevent, detect, and correct potential wrongdoings of employees and management by developing programs that match your evolving needs.

We will adopt a tailored approach to supporting your company, taking into account the maturity of your existing programs, culture, economics, and business needs.

What Makes a Corporate Compliance Program Effective? 

Although a one-size-fits-all corporate compliance program does not exist, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines outline seven compliance elements that can be tailored to assist organizations in developing an effective compliance and ethics program:

  • Standards, policies, and procedures
  • Compliance program administration
  • Communication, education, and training
  • Monitoring and auditing
  • Internal reporting systems
  • Discipline for noncompliance
  • Investigation and remediation measures

As the compliance industry has developed, there is wide-spread agreement that an effective corporate compliance program will have at least the following components:

  • A Code of Conduct and relevant compliance policies and procedures
  • Oversight and accountability by the company’s Board of Directors
  • Education, communication, and program
  • Delegation of authority
  • Enforcement, discipline, and incentives
  • Monitoring and auditing
  • Internal investigations that include root cause analysis and corrective action plans
  • Consistent and fair discipline
  • Risk assessments
  • Effective assessments of the compliance and ethics program
  • Ongoing program improvements

While some recoil at the time and cost of compliance, the cost of not having an effective compliance and ethics program could be much, much higher.

Compliance programs also make good business sense. Compliance programs help prevent companies from committing crimes in the first place. Even if they fail to do so, partially successful compliance programs may help companies avoid corporate prosecution altogether or at least result in some leniency. Either outcome easily warrants the expense of developing and maintaining an effective compliance program.

Contact Us Today

Contact our corporate compliance and ethics attorneys in Washington, D.C., or Tysons, Virginia. We’ll break down your situation and provide you with the support you deserve. Call us today at (202) 331-8160 or click here for our contact page.