Staff Member

Why compliance matters to me

Compliance is a willingness to follow a prescribed course of action, such as laws and regulations. At U-M, compliance is not primarily about policing people’s behavior; it is about striving to understand our many and varied obligations, and follow them.

Compliance specialists and legal advisors can support and assist you in interpreting laws and understanding what requirements apply to your work. But ultimately, you understand your work best; and are best placed to determine whether you are in fact complying with the law. The University’s reputation, funding, support, and ongoing success are dependent on every member of the U-M community taking responsibility for their own activities, and for the compliance of those activities with legal and ethical standards.

To strengthen U-M’s compliance culture and to support you in managing your obligations, the Office of the General Counsel has developed this website, as part of a University wide initiative that takes a big picture view of compliance by U-M.  This Compliance Resource Center is designed to guide you through the various compliance topics relevant to your work.

Read more about the goals of this initiative…

How compliance intersects with staff roles

Every staff member has different compliance obligations that impact on their role, depending on the precise nature of their work. Particularly for staff working in schools and colleges, one of the biggest challenges is the fact that your day-to-day work intersects with many different compliance topics.

Example: consider just some of the things that an administrative assistant working within a school or college may need to do on a daily basis, each of which raises compliance concerns:

  • Support teaching activity – booking classrooms, handling student records, compiling course materials and other tasks raise many compliance issues (see classroom teaching overview).
  • Arrange travel – raises many compliance issues, e.g. safety, immigration, export controls.
  • Procure goods or services or process payments – transactions must comply with financial requirements, appropriate delegations and conflict of interest obligations.
  • Perform HR functions, like processing leave forms or time sheets – raises employment and equity compliance issues, and privacy obligations.
  • Keep track of licenses or permits (e.g. radiation permits, professional registration, driver information) – these relate to compliance, and must be maintained and renewed vigilantly.
  • Maintain web content or marketing material – raises copyright and consumer protection compliance issues.
  • Handle freedom of information applications action must be taken as soon as received.
  • Arrange for contractors to do work in the department (e.g. maintenance jobs) – raises safety, licensing and other issues.
  • Learn of incidents within the department (e.g. a theft, unauthorized access to a secure area, theft, or an assault by one student against another) – which must be reported to the Department of Public Safety, to meet U-M’s crime reporting obligations.

Given the diversity of U-M’s activities, and of the roles that different staff members perform, no-one expects every staff member to understand or know how to solve every compliance issue.  But with improved awareness, you can arm yourself to better spot issues – then enlist help to follow it up.

How will this website help?

A major long term goal of the U-M Comprehensive Compliance Initiative is to raise general awareness about compliance. Greater awareness can ultimately empower you to understand better how and when compliance intersects with your day-to-day work in the University.

Another goal is to provide an additional point of contact for people to bring compliance questions or concerns. If you feel unsure about a situation, or think a compliance problem needs to be reported but are uncomfortable raising it inside your department, read about the various support mechanisms available on our Report a Concern page.

The first step in raising compliance awareness is the development of this Compliance Resource Center, which can guide you through the compliance topics relevant to your work. We suggest you spend a few minutes browsing the compliance topic areas, or the operations and activities library.  Both of these will be built upon gradually over time, to house practical resources, contacts, links and information.  We hope that these pages will be of benefit not only as an orientation for newcomers to the University, but also as a quick and constant reference for those with more knowledge and experience in handling compliance at U-M.

Read about the general awareness training sessions we are offering to U-M units…

How can I help U-M’s compliance initiatives?

Managing compliance comes as second nature to staff with a background or knowledge in fields like finance, business or occupational safety. For U-M to operate transparently and in compliance with the law, we need you to bring such experience and expertise to the fore – both to manage your own compliance, and to support and set an example for others in your work team and department.

Established 3/4/11, last updated 3/7/17 – Contact us if you believe any information is incorrect or outdated