News Release

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
Washington, DC 20002-8002

For Immediate Release:
Thursday February 21, 2002

Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Affairs Officer
(202) 502-4597


WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 21, 2002) — The United States Sentencing Commission announced today the formation of an ad hoc advisory group to review the general effectiveness of the federal sentencing guidelines for organizations. The Commission has asked the group to place particular emphasis on examining the criteria for an effective program to ensure an organization’s compliance with the law.

"The organizational guidelines have had a startling impact on the implementation of compliance and business ethics programs over the last ten years," said Commission chair, Judge Diana E. Murphy. "These guidelines provide incentives for voluntary reporting and cooperation but punish an organization’s failure to self-police. There is more interest than ever in these guidelines and we have received some suggestions for strengthening them. In order to foster dialogue about possible refinements to the organizational guidelines, we formed this ad hoc advisory group. In light of the current focus on preventing large-scale corporate wrongdoing, we believe the group’s work will be very timely."

The organizational sentencing guidelines first became effective November 1, 1991. The guidelines provide incentives for organizations to report violations, cooperate in criminal investigations, discipline responsible employees, and take the steps needed to prevent and detect criminal conduct by their agents. The guidelines mandate high fines for organizations that have no meaningful programs to prevent and detect criminal violations or in which management was involved in the crime. The guidelines take into account the potential range of organizational criminal culpability, from an inadvertent record keeping violation to an organization created solely for criminal purposes.

With the arrival of the tenth anniversary of the organizational guidelines, the Commission decided to form the ad hoc advisory group after soliciting public comment on the need, scope of work, and membership of the group. The advisory group – composed of industry representatives, scholars, and experts in compliance and business ethics – will serve for 18 months and will make at least one interim report to the Commission in the course of its work. Todd Jones, former United States Attorney for Minnesota and now a partner at the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, will chair the group.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines, which went into effect November 1, 1987, structure the courts’ sentencing discretion to ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive a similar sentence. The Commission has ongoing responsibility to monitor and amend the guidelines.

The following are the members of the ad hoc advisory group:

Richard Bednar, Defense Industry Initiative on Business and Ethics Conduct
Mary Beth Buchanan, U.S. Attorney, Western District of Pennsylvania
Richard Gruner, Whittier Law School
Eric H. Holder, Jr., Covington & Burling
Michael Horowitz, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division
Charles Howard, Shipman & Goodwin
Ron James, Center for Ethical Business Cultures
B. Todd Jones, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi
Lisa A. Kuca, H & K Investigative Solutions
Jane Adams Nangle, St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System
Julie O’Sullivan, Georgetown University Law Center
Edward S. Petry, Ethics Officer Association
Gary R. Spratling, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Winthrop M. Swenson, Compliance Systems Legal Group
Gregory J. Wallance, Kaye Scholer

United States Sentencing Commission: