“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” -Oprah Winfrey”
Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Essentially it means you can make a difference, if you choose to. We are all responsible for results (good or bad) and we can influence the outcomes in matters of compliance within organizations. We will touch on how compliance begins with you, and why is it important.Compliance means fulfilling official requirements, doing the “right” thing, or taking action to correct what is wrong. Laws and regulations are put in place to protect people’s rights and to hold organizations and professionals responsible for operating in compliance with the requirements, to protect those who receive the organization’s services, and to protect the integrity of a program and the program funds.
Organizations often enter into Conditions for Participation (CoP) agreements with federal, state, and even private entities. When organizations are approved to participate, they are expected to carry out the services that the agreement requires. If the organization does not meet the requirements, they may have to return the program funds they received, often with penalties or fines for not carrying out the services as agreed.
Workforce members also enter into conditional agreements with their employer when they are hired. Those conditions may vary, depending on what type of services the organization provides. Most organizations maintain and communicate codes of conduct and policies and procedures, and they provide education to help their workforce comply with the requirements they must meet. When employees do not meet conditions of employment, it can quickly affect the organization’s compliance, and it could result in harm to those receiving services from the organization. It may also affect the employees’ future employment.
Many organizations have compliance programs to help their workforce comply. Compliance programs exist to identify risks and oversee corrective actions, but anyone can identify a compliance concern. Additionally, compliance programs are designed to keep employees aware of current requirements, to help them identify and know how to report compliance issues, and to provide a “confidential message line” for the workforce to report potential or actual concerns without fear of retaliation. Compliance begins with you, because of the difference your decisions can make. When an issue is identified by anyone, it is important that the organization is able to quickly respond and correct the issue to protect everyone’s interests. Noncompliance comes in many forms—some can be very serious, and we often hear about those in the media.
Compliance issues can range from financial issues (e.g., banking, investments, grants, or billing standards); to health care concerns (e.g., Infection control, quality, and professional practice standards); or environmental matters (e.g., Construction, oil and gas, or utilities) and more. When in doubt, ask. Talk with someone about your concerns, or use the confidential message system in your organization. Your choice to report or not report can make a big difference, and this is just one way that compliance begins with you.