One of the most basic things that an effective compliance program must have is a compliance department that can answer all your questions. There must be the requisite number of resources dedicated to the compliance function, which means that a compliance department must be staffed with an appropriate number of compliance professionals to do the day-to-day basic work of compliance. Head count is always important in any corporation but there must be some minimum number of people in the compliance department to answer the phone or respond to e-mail.
But equally important to this resource issue is providing centralized assistance and what the 2012 FCPA Guidance says is “to provide guidance and advice on complying with a company’s ethics and compliance program.” It is up to the corporation to have someone present to answer the phone, but once they put someone in that compliance department seat, that person has to actually pick up the phone and respond. It is the responsibility of a compliance practitioner to provide the guidance to company personnel who call in or e-mail with questions. Following compliance policies and procedures is always important but to have a live person to answer questions or walk a non-compliance person through the process is a must.
In other words, if someone calls, not only does a compliance person have to be there, someone has to pick up the phone. How many times has a compliance department been called on a Friday afternoon to find that no one is there to answer the phone? But if someone is there, they have to actually pick up the phone and provide an answer. Someone must be around the pick-up and answer the phone when it rings on Friday afternoon and provide some answers to the question posed.