The Houston Astros were swept by the St. Louis Cards and are now on a 7-43 run, the worst in the majors since 1943. On the upside, the entire starting nine fielded by the Astros' on Thursday had only one player, outfielder Ben Francisco, making more than the league minimum (approximately $483,000) and their combined salary was about $4 million less than the one-year deal of $9.75 million that Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook has just signed. So our new Astros owner should have plenty of money for those new American League uniforms he has been secretly working on.
One of the things that my colleague Stephen Martin talks about is the need for strategic planning for your Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance program. He suggests a 1, 3 and 5 year strategic plan which you should utilize as a road map for your compliance program in these time frames. Equally important, as a former state and federal prosecutor, he believes that such a document would be an important item to produce to a prosecutor, who might be reviewing your compliance program in the event of a voluntary self-disclosure, a Dodd-Frank or other whistleblower event, which has led your company to receive a subpoena or letter of inquiry or an industry sweep. He believes that such a strategic plan could well lead to the development of credibility for your company and your compliance program in the event of one of the aforementioned eventualities.
I pondered over Stephen's thought on the subject of a strategic plan recently when I heard the Houston Astros General Manager say that he was not sure what plan he has to make the Astros a winning if not relevant, team again. Basically he said it was a 1, 3 or 5 year plan, or perhaps something else, he just wasn't sure. With those words of encouragement in mind it would appear that the Astros plan is the following: (1) Year One: Lose to a new set of teams as the Astros will move from the National League to the America League; (2) Year 3: Continue to lose; (3) Year 5: Be all you can be. How is that for a strategic plan?
With the above in mind I was interested to read an article in the Houston Business Journal, entitled "Strategic planning needs constant follow-up to be successful" by Bruce Rector. As with Martin he recognizes that while a strategic plan can serve as guide for your company going forward, it must actually be utilized to garner any use out of it. Rector notes that "if your company and management team have expended the time and resources to pull together a strategic plan, the next logical step is to follow up and keep things on track." While Rector's article is not aimed at the compliance arena, I believe that the steps he lays out, translate without difficulty, into steps a compliance officer can take to meet the suggestion laid out by Martin above.
Martin's guidance that a FCPA strategic plan can be a key part of your overall compliance program is sound advice. However, simply developing a strategic plan is not enough. Rector concludes by stating that "Part of management's responsibility is to continually reinforce the vision and goals of the company, as set forth in this plan." This is particularly true in the compliance arena, where assessment and updating are critical to an ongoing best practices compliance program. If you follow the process laid out by Rector, you will put a mechanism in place to demonstrate your company's commitment to compliance by following through on intentions as set forth in your strategic plan.
Visit the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog, hosted by Thomas Fox, for more commentary on FCPA compliance, indemnities and other forms of risk management for a worldwide energy practice, tax issues faced by multi-national US companies, insurance coverage issues and protection of trade secrets.
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© Thomas R. Fox, 2012
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