A chief compliance officer, also known as a CCO, is the executive responsible for ensuring that an organization is compliant with both internal and external policies and regulations. He oversees the development and implementation of procedures that facilitate compliance and works with other executives to ensure compliance throughout all departments within an organization. He may also be responsible for ensuring that the organization has the necessary resources to research and track external laws, regulations, and industry standards.
In many businesses and not-for-profit organizations, there is a necessity to ensure that they are doing business in accordance with laws governing businesses, including financial responsibility laws, consumer protection laws, and employment law. In a particularly large organization, it is easy for accountability processes to break down and for a company to fall out of compliance with these laws. The chief compliance officer may serve as a point person to whom questions about compliance processes can be addressed and who can ensure that processes in one area of the company coordinate with the processes of other areas of the company. A chief compliance officer may actually set company-wide policies that conform to external requirements established by industry organizations and government bodies.
A significant component of good compliance management is research and monitoring of regulatory and industry changes. A research director or corporate librarian may report directly to the chief finance officer and oversee a team of compliance administrators or researchers who regularly track laws and administrative regulations. Changes in organizational processes in response to regulatory and industry changes may be directly developed by the CCO or his staff, or individual departments may be informed of these changes and asked to develop policies that meet their needs while also complying with the new rules.
Chief compliance officers may also take responsibility for conducting regular compliance audits throughout an organization. These audits will ideally turn up any areas where compliance is soft before a significant problem occurs. These internal audits also demonstrate good faith to government regulators in case an organization comes under scrutiny.
The chief compliance officer may also take a role in ensuring organizational compliance with company-wide or corporate policies. Employee benefits, harassment policies, and other internal matters must often be compliant with both external government policy as well as internal policy. The chief compliance officer may not set these internal policies, but will likely review them for compliance and set the processes by which they are implemented and enforced within an organization.