In Praise of a Good Set of Brakes, or Why Compliance Matters

Many B&F staff work in what can be termed “compliance”—making sure U-M follows applicable laws and regulations, crafting effective policies, and working to minimize risk and losses to the university. Compliance work isn’t always flashy, but it’s essential.

Although most people associate compliance more closely with paperwork than with NASCAR, it can be helpful to think about compliance like a good set of brakes. The ability to slow down at crucial moments is exactly what allows a race car to drive safely at incredible speeds. Similarly, the compliance experts in B&F allow the university to pause, evaluate and ensure critical work moves forward on track, safely and within the law.

Compliance takes many forms across B&F. In Facilities and Operations, the department of Environment, Health and Safety monitors drinking water quality, manages hazardous waste and coordinates fire prevention efforts, among many other activities that keep U-M a great place to work. On the financial side, our Risk Management team works to protect our community and physical assets from losses related to an unexpected incident like a flood, cyber attack or sports accident. In University Human Resources, the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) is dedicated to fostering an environment that is inclusive, respectful and free from discrimination and harassment.

Regulations may define many of these specific activities, but the spirit of stewardship and care for our university community is what ultimately drives compliance work. “Even if the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX and other civil rights laws prohibiting protected class discrimination ceased to exist, we would continue the same work to ensure that we create and maintain a viable learning and work community,” says Jeffery Frumkin, interim senior director for OIE.

Whether in research, education, or patient care, life at the university moves at a tremendous pace. Compliance makes it happen—safely and responsibly.