Kathleen Grilli on 30 Years of the US Federal Sentencing Guidelines [Podcast]


By Adam Turteltaub

The Organizational Sentencing Guidelines have turned thirty, and what began as an experiment is now an established framework for compliance programs in the US and around the globe.

To commemorate the milestone, the United States Sentencing Commission has published The Organizational Sentencing Guidelines: Thirty Years of Innovation and Influence, which takes a look at the impact of the guidelines and what we have learned about their impact on organizational behavior.

In this podcast, the Commission’s General Counsel Kathleen Grilli identifies the three largest innovations of the Guidelines:

  1. Incentivizing self-policing by organizations
  2. Providing guidance on effective ethics and compliance programs
  3. Holding organizations accountable based on specific culpability factors when they commit offenses

The approach has worked more successfully than had been imagined. As she notes, it has expanded beyond the criminal environment to encompass civil settlements with government agencies as well. In addition, the approach to compliance in the Guidelines has been embraced globally, with their outlines clearly visible in the laws of many nations.

Within the US, she shares, a strong difference has emerged between organizations with and without compliance programs. The overwhelming majority of organizations convicted had no compliance program at all. In fact, only 11 out of approximately 5,000 organizations had a program that a court found to be effective.

This points out that there is still room for improvement, particularly among smaller organizations who lack awareness of the need for and benefits of compliance programs.

Listen in to learn more about the remarkable effectiveness of the Organizational Sentencing Guidelines.