Appendix A. Summary of the 2004 Federal Sentencing Guidelines Amendments and Recommended Action Steps

General Counsel Roundtable Research, 2004

To underscore the importance of compliance programs, the U.S. Sentencing Commission proposed to Congress on April 30, 2004 a number of amendments to its sentencing guidelines that extensively define and expand the standards, structures, and procedures of an "effective" compliance program. The amendments were approved and went into effect beginning November 1, 2004 and require companies to evaluate and modify, if necessary, their existing compliance and ethics programs to meet the specifications of the new criteria.

The following table, prepared by the General Counsel Roundtable, summarizes the actions mandated by the seven amendments to the U.S. Sentencing Commission's sentencing guidelines. The table also includes some, though certainly not all, steps companies may take when assessing strengths and weaknesses of their compliance programs.


Area Under Amendment

Mandated Actions

Recommended Steps

Standards and Procedures

The organization must establish standards and procedures to prevent and detect criminal conduct. This includes standards of conduct and internal controls reasonably capable of reducing the likelihood of criminal conduct.

  • Determine whether the current ethics and compliance program emphasizes critical ethical conduct or just compliant conduct

  • Ensure ...

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