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Mike Scher’s favorite resource: RAND Reports

In September 2012, I published a post about corruption by senior management which stated, somewhat cautiously, “The problem of ‘overseas corruption’ is not  ‘overseas.’ It’s in the corner office.” 

A year later in November 2013, I published a post headlined more bluntly: “The C Suite: A Crucible for Misconduct.” 

Looking back, I see that my thinking (and my language) changed because I was influenced by the release of the 2013 RAND Center’s 100-page report of a symposium on C-Suite misconduct.

It clarified the facts, provided a new vocabulary and inspired confidence to discuss hard realities. Later that year, when I wrote an open letter to the DOJ and SEC about Walmart, I referred to the “series of recommendations in the RAND study,” adding weight and credibility to a personal perspective.

The “RAND-Brand” is powerful. COs and advocates for the field need power to do the work, and RAND is a good friend to have.

For discussion of questions like these, try the RAND reports linked below for the years 2009-2014:

  • In Enron and all of the follow-on scandals, where were the compliance officers? (2009, See p. 27)
  • Why a tax credit (and a dozen other steps) could work now to protect COs? (2009, See p. 41)
  • Is compliance only ‘semi-tough’? A short history of how compliance programs came to be. (2012, See p. 33)
  • What’s the difference between a ‘whistleblower’ and an employee who reports misconduct to his manager? (2011, See pp. 10-12)
  • Since the board by law must adopt a Code of Ethics, can a board fire the CEO and other officers who violate it by ‘lawful but awful’ conduct? (2010, See pp. 10-11)

The RAND Corporation at the top of all research institutions or ‘think tanks’ in the world.

Fortunately for COs, among RAND’s research centers, there is a center specifically supporting this field: RAND Center for Corporate Ethics and Governance. At its annual, invitation-only symposium, over 20 senior level thought leaders from private industry, nonprofit, board, compliance, ethics, government and academic communities focus on a major problem framed by research papers from experts in the field.

To date, five annual reports have been published and a sixth is on the way this summer. I was fortunate to be a participant in the recent 2014 conference. Each report includes important consensus recommendations,  a take-away summary of the proceeding and remarkably penetrating observations or suggested actions for the field by individual participants.

It is uplifting to read the last five years of reports because they track so many consequential issues. They are also a bit discouraging because you see how those issues still persist. Nonetheless, a CO who wants to understand a major compliance-related issue today can start with one of the RAND reports and have the advantage of knowing how the thinking started and how it changed over the years.

The reports are free online or as downloadable ebooks. Titles by year include:

  • Perspectives of CECOs on the Detection and Prevention of Corporate Misdeeds, 2009. (See here.) 
  • Directors as Guardians of Compliance and Ethics Within the Corporate Citadel – What the Policy Community Should Know, 2010. (See here.)
  • For Whom the Whistle Blows – Advancing Corporate Compliance and Integrity Efforts in the Era of Dodd-Frank, 2011. (See here.)
  • Corporate Culture and Ethical Leadership Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines – What should Boards, Management and Policymakers Do Now?, 2012 (See here.) 
  • Corporate Compliance and the C-Suite – How Executives, Boards, and Policymakers Can Better Safeguard Against Misconduct at the Top, 2013 (See here.)
  • Transforming Compliance: An Emerging Paradigm for Boards, Management, Compliance Officers and Government (Due September 2014). The “white paper” research reports are now available here.

For information about RAND or the RAND Center reports, contact Michael Greenberg, Director, RAND Center for Corporate Ethics and Governance, [email protected]


Michael Scher is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog. He has over three decades of experience as a senior compliance officer and attorney for international transactions. He is affiliated with ethiXbase, the owner of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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