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Q&A on compliance and risk management

Jillian Harrington, director of compliance and risk management, recently spoke with Inside BU about herself and her new job.

What does “compliance” mean in this context?

Compliance includes three main areas:

• Environmental health and safety concerns, such as hazardous materials, bio safety and air quality issues.

• Internal control issues such as monetary fraud, abuse of travel requisitions and digital security.

• Research compliance, which involves following policies related to research, including meeting the specifications in grants.

Compliance problems are usually tied to a lack of information or education; they’re very rarely examples of people behaving maliciously. Compliance is about ethical and moral business practices, combined with safety, effectiveness and efficiency in the organization. Looked at broadly, it’s really making sure everyone is doing the “right” thing when they are acting on behalf of the University.

Doesn’t the University already have people in charge of these areas? Why unite them in one job?

Yes, Connie Corey, assistant director of environmental health and safety; Edward Chidester, internal control officer; and Stephen Gilje, associate vice president for research, will keep their roles in these fields. I will work with all of them, coordinating to bring efficiency to the system. It makes sense to bring these areas together because they’re so often interrelated. Research compliance, for example, often involves environmental health and safety issues as well as internal controls.

This will allow us to provide continuity in policy, enforcement and service. It also gives people a single place to go when they have issues they want resolved.

How is what you do different from what the ombudsman’s office handles?

We may deal with some of the same issues, actually.

The University ombudsman, Francine Montemurro, is a good person to approach if you want an impartial party with whom to discuss your options for action. If you come to me with a problem, I will feel that I need to investigate that problem and decide for myself how and whether to act on it.

Francine and I have spoken about this, and I expect we’ll refer people to each other when it’s appropriate.

What has prepared you for a job with such a wide purview?

It’s true, the position is part lawyer, part doctor/professor and part physical facilities employee, although finding all of those qualifications in one person is nearly impossible.

I was the institutional compliance officer at SUNY Upstate Medical University Center and I have written books and spoken nationally on matters of interest to compliance professionals. I also previously worked in the insurance industry and at Lourdes Hospital.

My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in health-care administration, although so much of my education has served me well in the compliance industry.

I’m from Kirkwood, so this is a good opportunity to work locally in a job that brings together all of my expertise.

How can employees reach you if they have a compliance concern?

An open door policy is very important to me. I want people to feel free to come see me, even if they just want clarification about a policy or to chat about a concern or conflict.

My e-mail address is and my telephone number is 777-2808. I’m currently in the AD-614, although I expect to move to another office within the building sometime over the next several months.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08