In its May 2008 Revised Policy Statement on Enforcement, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) restated its commitment to an aggressive enforcement policy. One item FERC said it would take into consideration in any future enforcement proceedings would be a party's "commitment to compliance," including the implementation of a compliance program, as a critical factor to be considered when assessing civil penalties. To provide a forum for regulated companies to share compliance strategies, and ultimately provide further guidance on what a compliance program should look like, FERC hosted a compliance workshop on July 8, 2008, in Washington, D.C. At the well-attended workshop, compliance executives from such companies as BP North America, Deloitte & Touche, Progress Energy, and J.P. Morgan served as panelists to present the elements of an effective compliance program, and to respond to questions from FERC staff and Commissioner Philip D. Moeller. The panelists discussed many facets of a compliance program that had been successful in their experience. Common elements discussed include:

  • The importance of garnering support from senior management as a first step 
  • Staffing of at least one independent, full-time, executive-level compliance officer
  • Identification of regulatory risks and compliance requirements based on a careful review of current regulations pertinent to active areas of business
  • Assignment of responsibility for compliance with those identified requirements
  • Development of a record-keeping/retention policy
  • Visibility of compliance personnel; i.e., stationing a compliance officer on the trading floor or in the transmission control room
  • Integration of compliance personnel with commercial operations
  • Development of a culture of compliance among employees by making sure they know that they are not doing their job properly if they are not complying; this concept should start with senior management
  • Internal auditing and enforcement, including periodic review of trader phone calls, etc.
  • Docking of an employee's pay for compliance failures

Three elements for an effective compliance program were universally agreed to by the panelists:

  1. Support of senior management
  2. Effective training of employees
  3. Visibility of the compliance program within the company

Comment Date. The Commission is accepting written comments on compliance in Docket No. AD08 5 000 until July 22, 2008.