Fans of the Compliance Week annual conference will recall that last month I launched a poll to solicit ideas for our 2014 conference, to be held May 19-21 in Washington, D.C. We received great feedback, and I am happy to announce the first group of sessions that will be on our agenda.

They are:

Integrating enhanced audit expectations into control regime. Audit firms are under strict orders to give more scrutiny to companies' internal control. That's likely to affect everything from the control systems you use, to the audit fees you pay, and even the personnel on your own staff. This session will explore how to integrate that increased scrutiny into your current internal control regime. Attendees can strategize on how to avoid a repeat of the exhaustive internal control audits circa 2005, and combat possible sticker shock to audit fees in 2014.

Third-party risk management at decentralized companies. Third parties pose risks to all companies—but your ability to impose policies and controls is that much harder at the decentralized enterprise. This session will explore ways to rely on local business units to implement compliance, from conducting their own risk assessments, to policy management and enforcement, to reporting back to the chief compliance officer. (And how to confirm that what they report to you is, you know, accurate.)

Starting sustainability reporting. Corporate social responsibility programs have been rising in popularity for years; now, sustainability reporting & disclosure is moving into the mainstream, and into the company annual report as well. This session will consider ways to measure and report sustainability in a meaningful way, with minimal new burden on existing disclosure controls and systems—and at efforts to expand the requirements for sustainability disclosure, which may be coming soon to a Form 10-K near you.

Managing compliance issues in joint ventures. Joint ventures have been described as the perfect storm for compliance executives: just enough business relationship to bring compliance risk to the company, not enough power in the arrangement to do much about it. Hear from three compliance officers in this session telling their approaches to JVs: from risk assessments before the deal, to monitoring and cooperation during the partnership, to practical tips on investigations should misconduct in a JV partner come to light.

Investigations gone global, not haywire. Oh, lovely: your latest allegation of misconduct runs from the United States to the Middle East to China, with a detour through France to boot. How can you run an effective investigation in some of the most difficult spots in the world, where local law may conflict with what you need to do? This session will visit some of the worst trouble spots, explore local stumbling blocks to your investigation, and offer ideas on how to complete the job anyway.

Corporate culture as a top-level control. Any compliance officer will agree that a culture of strong ethics and values is the most important part of any compliance program. So how can you clarify, and amplify, what your company's ethical culture is? This session will review how you can draw connections between corporate culture and its risks and control systems, and how improvements in culture can lead to more effective compliance, yes—but also to better interactions with regulators, third parties, and customers.

Building compliance at the high-growth company. High-growth companies have multiple problems: new employees and new customers, to be sure, but also new business processes, new organizational structures, new markets, and usually new regulations (and the bonus of high expectations from investors and the board). This panel will let compliance officers hear from others who have had to tame that beast, from embedding strong compliance controls in new business processes to assessing risks in fast-growing new markets. No rest for the weary here, but lots of lessons learned.

Scoping, implementing, and evaluating GRC projects. A poorly planned GRC software project can die on the vine, alone and incomplete… or it can grow like a weed, with budgets and project deliverables expanding right along with it. This session will break down the dreaded GRC implementation into its component parts: identifying control weaknesses, defining clear scope for a solution, implementing new software to remediate the weaknesses, and measuring risks and control performance after completion to evaluate return on investment. 

Working with procurement to prevent fraud. Trying to root out shady third parties or to clean up your supply chain? At many companies, that means the procurement department is your new best friend. So how do you work with procurement? How can you win over procurement officers, to drive your anti-corruption policies through their activity? This session will feature procurement officers and compliance officers, talking about how to cooperate effectively for third-party oversight and anti-corruption programs.

These nine sessions are only the first of what ultimately will be dozens of panel discussions, keynote speeches, case-studies, workshops, product demonstrations, and private conversations throughout Compliance Week 2014. We had more than 500 compliance professionals at the last conference (from as far away as Nigeria, Russia, and Australia). We expect another top-notch event next year.

A note for the curious: Yes, we are very much looking for speakers, at these sessions and others still to be announced! If you are an in-house compliance executive working on any of the above topics, and want to strut your stuff on stage, email me at mkelly@complianceweek.com and let's talk.

Any other compliance professionals who want to attend, our early-bird rates are in effect until Dec. 31—register now at http://conference.complianceweek.com/, and I look forward to seeing you there next spring.