Navigating the complex world of regulations can be a daunting task for any business owner - even the Biden Administration’s National Cybersecurity Strategy understands this. Which is why they’ve called for the harmonization and streamlining of new and existing regulations.
Multiple regulatory bodies are often involved, each with its own set of rules and requirements. The result can be a chaotic and time-consuming process that drains resources and hinders growth. However, harmonizing and streamlining regulations can offer a solution to this problem. By creating Common Controls through de-duplicating overlapping mandates and therefore simplifying the compliance process, businesses can save time, reduce costs, and improve efficiency. In this article, we'll explore the three-legged stool of harmonizing and streamlining regulations and why it's important to use these tools in order to achieve defensible harmonization. From chaos to clarity, join us on a journey toward a more streamlined and efficient regulatory landscape.
Understanding the Complexity of Regulatory Compliance
Regulatory compliance is a necessary part of doing business, but it can also be a complex and time-consuming process. Each regulatory body has its own set of rules and requirements, and businesses often have to navigate multiple sets of regulations, which can vary by location and industry.
For example, a business that operates in multiple states may have to comply with different state laws related to employment, taxes, and licensing. Similarly, a business that operates in a regulated industry such as healthcare or finance may have to comply with regulations from multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
To make matters worse, regulations are constantly changing, and businesses must stay up to date on the latest requirements to avoid penalties and fines. This can be a daunting task, especially for small businesses that may not have the resources for a dedicated compliance program.
The Biden Administration’s National Cybersecurity Strategy and the Call for Harmonization and Streamlining Regulations
The importance of harmonizing and streamlining regulations has been highlighted by the Biden Administration's National Cybersecurity Strategy, which calls for a "whole-of-government" approach to cybersecurity regulation. The strategy emphasizes the need for collaboration and coordination between different regulatory bodies to ensure a consistent and effective approach to cybersecurity at the government level. So even they understand the problem of overlapping mandates.
This call for harmonization and streamlining is not limited to cybersecurity regulation, however. The benefits of aligning regulations across different jurisdictions and simplifying the compliance process can be applied to all areas of regulatory compliance. The question becomes, then, how do we, at our level, streamline and harmonize our existing compliance requirements?
The Three-Legged Stool used when Harmonizing and Streamlining Regulations
What you don’t want to do is try harmonizing manually. It isn’t legally defensible (unless done by a bevy of lawyers, which makes it impractical), it’s time-consuming (and therefore costly), and quite frankly, the outcome isn’t very good.
Harmonizing and streamlining regulations must be achieved through a three-legged stool approach that begins with maintaining a corpora of the compliance rules you have to follow (as well as your own internal documentation), employing any number of semantic similarity methods and tools for identifying overlapping mandates and concludes with a robust compliance dictionary that classifies both the actions and the processes and assets that fall under compliance.
A corpus is a collection of written texts. This begins with you collecting all the Authority Documents you must follow. It should also include all of the internal compliance documents your team is writing. Multiple corpus management tools exist on the market, including the Unified Compliance team's Common Controls Hub, SketchEngine, and others. The point is that in order to harmonize and streamline compliance mandates, you first have to have a list of those mandates. Your list becomes your corpus.
Semantic Similarity tools
Every one is infatuated with ChatGPT and other AI writing tools. The underlying technology for what they are doing is found within various semantic similarity methodologies. If you suffer from insomnia or really want to know about these tools, the paper to read is ==Using Hybrid Semantic Similarity Methods when Examining Corpora with Limited Content.== It can be accessed at ResearchGate. It explains everything (probably more than you want to know) about the various tools that are employed by professionals when judging similarity in text. Employment of these tools is a must when streamlining and harmonizing compliance mandates.
You need a corporate compliance dictionary
Organizations can’t simply expect their staff, contractors, suppliers, and customers to understand the meaning of all their terms. Organizations have various functional groups with different agendas and outlooks; various end users with widely differing levels of familiarity with products and services; with suppliers falling into various categories of familiarity as well.
On top of organizational terms, there are compliance terms that must be considered. Each regulation and standard seemingly has its own language and its own definitions.
One of the key tools emerging in the Natural Language Processing space are tools to automatically extract terms and definitions from regulatory guidelines as well as organizational compliance documents and turn them into bespoke dictionaries. These automated compliance dictionaries, in turn, aid the semantic similarity tools as well as instruct the organization as to what needs to be complied with and how to implement that compliance.
Achieving Defensible Harmonization
There are those that will argue that harmonization, performed by individuals without a three-legged stool at their disposal, is perfectly fine. “Why not” they say, “our staff are subject matter experts in this topic” is their patented defense. But are they?
Some will argue that harmonization, performed by individuals without a three-legged stool at their disposal, is perfectly fine. “Why not,” they say, “our staff are subject matter experts in this topic,” is their patented defense. But are they?
Ask yourself these questions about the process for harmonization and streamlining:
- How are all the documents to be harmonized and stored? In a structured database so that each sentence can be analyzed individually, or are they just a jumble of documents?
- What process is used to examine each of the sentences in the documents, breaking down each sentence’s primary and secondary predicates and subjects and tagging them?
- What process is in place to include tagged terms in a bespoke dictionary, so that shared meaning is enabled (the basic building block of similarity evaluation)?
- What process is in place to analyze the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to implement each action being called for in the documents’ mandates?
- What process is in place to convert each predicate into an implementable process, asset, or record?
You can rest assured that the US Federal Government, along with a great many organizations at the forefront of Cybersecurity, have put into place such a three-legged stool of technology and processes.
What to do about it…
We are pleased to announce that we are extending our harmonization APIs and tools currently available on the federal level to state and local government agencies. Contact our team to learn more.
We have several options for corporations and other organizations that wish to streamline their own internal compliance content with our mapping tool.