Conflict Minerals: Lessons Learned for a Smoother Year Two Compliance Program

We are now well into the second year of the enforcement of Dodd-Frank section 1502, otherwise known as the “Conflict Minerals Provision”.  Year one was a bit of a roller coaster, with legal challenges and rulings that adjusted – although ultimately did not eliminate – the reporting requirements for SEC filers.

In early July, RGP’s Conflict Minerals Practice Leader, Kevin Deely, presented a webinar that presented the results of a careful analysis of the first year of SEC Conflict Minerals filings.  If you are subject to the conflict minerals provision, I encourage you to take time to listen to the recording of the session, as the results were extremely interesting.

Having a Conflict Minerals Policy is Key

CMPolicyStatsOne of the most interesting statistics that came from the research was that 25% of the companies that filed the Form SD report with the SEC indicated that they did not have a formalized Conflict Minerals Policy.  As Mr. Deely mentions in the session, this is surprising both because of the critical nature of having a policy that governs your conflict mineral program, as well as how simple it can be to create that policy.

Your company’s policy does not need require conflict free materials – nor does it need to enforce full reporting compliance for all suppliers.  The policy will define ownership of the initiative, outline your tolerance for non-compliance, set thresholds for suppliers above which you will require responses, and outline corrective action that should be taken for non-compliance.

Data Quality Makes a Huge Difference

In year one, RGP found that dealing with poor data quality created a large amount of effort for many organizations.  Companies that had poor tracking of suppliers, parts or contact information spent far more time on compliance, as they had to first track down information from multiple sources.  Organizations that spent that time wisely in year one creating more complete and consistent records of suppliers and parts will have a much easier time with year two compliance.

Supplier Outreach

Suppliers are not operating on even playing fields.  Large publicly held manufacturing companies who are SEC filers themselves had different challenges than small, independent suppliers in non-English speaking countries.  Language, timing, technology and urgency varied across the population.

Year one taught us that the supplier outreach is critical – and needs to be tailored to the audience.  Some suppliers will need more hand-holding through the process, and others will simply need more time to gather their response together.

Third Party Assistance and Technology

RGP’s Conflict Minerals Practice and our Reasonable Country of Origin Center of Excellence (RCOI COE) team have helped a number of clients through the year one process, developing policies, creating governance structures and serving as the outsourced team to manage the supplier survey process.  In year two, even more organizations are looking to partnerships to help them be more efficient and to provide the most cost-effective solutions.

If you need a partner or the technology to manage your surveys, please contact us today and we’ll connect you with our Conflict Minerals Practice to discuss those needs!

RCOICOE

ALERT: SEC Releases Updated Conflict Minerals FAQ

The following alert was issued by RGP’s Supply Chain Practice’s Senior Practice Leader, Kevin Deely on April 8, 2014.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions and we’ll put you in touch with the Supply Chain Practice leadership in your local region.

ALERT: SEC Releases Updated Conflict Minerals Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

RGP-Logo-for-blog-post

In a much-anticipated update to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) May 2013 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), the SEC released nine new questions and answers relating to conflict minerals. To view the SEC’s FAQ page, please click here.

The release of information addressed a number of lingering questions since the initial release of the FAQ. One of the most anticipated points of clarification included how companies should treat a hybrid of ‘DRC undeterminable’ and ‘DRC conflict free’ products in its Conflict Minerals Report (CMR). The SEC said that companies can only describe products that are ‘DRC conflict free’ if the issuer determines that the conflict minerals did not finance or benefit armed groups in the region based on its due diligence. In addition, that due diligence requires an Independent Private Sector Audit (IPSA) of the CMR, for filings describing products as ‘DRC conflict free’. Key excerpts from the release include:

  • If, after exercising due diligence on the source and chain of custody of its conflict minerals, an issuer determines that at least one of its products may be described as “DRC conflict undeterminable,” is the issuer required to obtain an IPSA of its Conflict Minerals Report during the temporary transition period?

    No. The Commission stated in the adopting release that, during the transition period, issuers with products that may be described.

  • If an issuer does not obtain an IPSA of its Conflict Minerals Report because one of its products is “DRC conflict undeterminable,” may it describe any of its other products as “DRC conflict free” in its Conflict Minerals Report?

    No. An issuer is not required, under the rule, to describe any qualifying products as “DRC conflict free” in its Conflict Minerals Report. The rule defines due diligence as including an IPSA of the Conflict Minerals Report. Therefore, to be able to describe qualifying products in its Conflict Minerals Report as “DRC conflict free,” an issuer must have obtained an IPSA.

  • During the temporary transition period, an issuer has products that it manufactured or contracted to have manufactured with conflict minerals that are necessary to the functionality or production of those products. Each product is composed of a number of conflict minerals from different sources. In its Conflict Minerals Report, how should the issuer describe any particular product based upon the various combinations of conflict minerals in the product?

    During the temporary transition period, if an issuer has a product that would qualify as “DRC conflict free” except that the product contains a conflict mineral that the issuer is unable to determine did not originate in the DRC or an adjoining country, or is unable to determine did not directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups in those countries, the issuer may not describe that product as “DRC conflict free.”

  • The nationally or internationally recognized due diligence framework used by an issuer may include procedures for obtaining information about a conflict mineral’s country of origin. If so, this aspect of the nationally or internationally recognized due diligence framework would encompass the reasonable country of origin inquiry requirement under the rule. In that situation, would the IPSA also include the issuer’s reasonable country of origin inquiry?

    No. The IPSA does not need to include the reasonable country of origin inquiry because, under the rule, that inquiry is a distinct step separate from the due diligence process.

 

The release of the updated FAQ is helpful, but still does not address a range of questions companies have before the first filing. Companies should evaluate how this new information may affect their current draft Form Specialized Disclosures (SD) and CMRs.

For additional information, please contact your RGP Client Service Director, visit RGP.com or call +1.800.900.1131.  (Or contact our policyIQ team and we’ll put you in touch with the local RGP Directors in your area.)

What can you look forward to with policyIQ’s version 7.2?

Happy New Year, policyIQ Friends! As we turned over to the 2014 calendar, we introduced policyIQ’s version 7.2 to the first wave of clients. This latest release includes features that serve a wide range of policyIQ users. If you’d like to get right to the technical details, follow this link to the release notes. Read on for a peek at the highlights.

More easily populate content using the Import utility

If you are one of those clients who take advantage of the Import utility, you can now easily toggle back and forth between the table where you are analyzing the results of your Import and the table listing your Imports using the “Back to Imports” option that was added to the toolbar.

New time savers in Roles

If you recently began using policyIQ or are expanding your use of policyIQ to new areas, you may find some new options related to Roles to be helpful.

First, you can now copy one of the existing standard policyIQ Roles as a starting place for a new role that you would like to create. For example, to give different teams mutually exclusive access to policyIQ, you can copy the Group Administrator role and enable the “Add Root Folder”, “Add Root Group” and “Add Template” permissions to create a new role for the different team leaders. For more information, check out our related post “Practical Application: How do I really use policyIQ for multiple purposes?”

Another enhancement introduced with 7.2 and related to Roles is that the core Roles in any new policyIQ site have been locked down. That is, the permissions of your standard policyIQ Roles cannot be changed. Coupled with the ability to Copy a Role, this is an advantage or improvement because it helps the administrators of your site and the policyIQ Support team to better support your users while simplifying your ability to create custom roles. One of the fundamental items to check when users are not seeing what they expect, or do not have the access that they expected, is the user’s Role. If someone had changed the permissions of a client’s standard roles, it would not have been initially apparent to the troubleshooter and could have prolonged the time to arrive at a resolution.

policyIQ has learned to do math!

We’ve had clients using policyIQ for Account Reconciliations, monitoring of leases and vendors, tracking of Risk Assessment conclusions—and a whole slew of other things—for quite some time. Maybe you’ve heard us say that policyIQ is used for “administration” of these processes. We always want to err on the side of being honest…and until recently, clients were really not using policyIQ to perform the reconciliation. They were using policyIQ for the administration of the process around reconciliations, contract approval, and so on. With policyIQ’s version 7.2, clients can now use the “Calculated Fields” to actually calculate and display the balance, variance, contract amount, lease payment, etc. We’re very excited about this long awaited development!

Ongoing development to support Conflict Minerals compliance

We are proud to have partnered with experts around the U.S. to be among the first of firms and technology developers to offer comprehensive support for compliance with the Dodd-Frank Conflict Mineral Provision. With version 7, we have continued to make performance improvements on the application and to add features that better support the Reasonable Country of Origin Inquiry (RCOI) supplier survey process. Check out our Release Notes to learn how we are supporting analysis of supplier and part-level surveys.

Babysitting—policyIQ is even doing that now

A couple of years ago we presented a webinar on how policyIQ is used to help manage, collect and report on questionnaires for things like 302 Certification. We talked about that pesky human condition called procrastination that was really out of reach of policyIQ. Turns out we were wrong!

Back then, we told you that you could go to Activities/Issued Forms and take advantage of the instant inventory of responses to easily send email reminders to those who still had outstanding or “open” forms. Now, with version 7.2, policyIQ offers you the option to prescribe the reminders for open forms, including the

  • Frequency of reminders
  • Day of the week that you’d like reminders to go out
  • Start and end date of reminders for any given Form Bundle
  • And customized email Subject and Message

So, we can make easy work of chasing down those people who tend to need ongoing reminders. Nice!

Exciting times!

We are thrilled to be starting 2014 with such momentum! The policyIQ Team is committed to listening to our clients, getting you the functionality that you need—fast—and continuously improving this tool that you rely on to make you more effective and more efficient.

Cheers to 2014! We are looking forward to our ongoing partnership with you. Thank you for all of your feedback!

Have you waited to take action on Conflict Minerals? The time is now.

cmalertWe’ve been talking about the impact of Dodd-Frank Section 1502 – the “Conflict Minerals Provision” – for over a year, but we know that many companies have delayed taking action.  While the first filing date is coming up in May 2014, legal challenges have prompted many to hold off on moving forward.

Those legal challenges have had their day in court, and last week the US District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the SEC’s rule for the implementation of the provisions.  In other words, the time for moving forward on Conflict Minerals compliance is now.

Read more in our RGP Financial Alert – or read the ruling directly from the Court.  And then contact us so that we can put you in touch with the RGP thought leaders and experts to help you move forward.  With the combination of our methodology, experienced consultants and policyIQ technology, RGP offers a full solution to get you compliant within the short time remaining before the filing deadline.

Challenges of conflict minerals compliance benefits ALL policyIQ clients

challengeHere on the policyIQ team, we are always talking about how we love a good challenge – and Dodd-Frank’s Conflict Minerals provision has provided us with challenges in spades.  We are learning to be careful what we wish for!

If your company is subject to the Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals rules, you are likely well-aware of some of the challenges that organizations like yours are facing.  The regulation requires that any publicly listed company who manufactures (or contracts to manufacture) a product containing Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten or Gold – referred to as 3TG (also a great name for a boy band) – trace the origin of those minerals to the source, reporting on whether the minerals originate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or some surrounding countries.

Survey your suppliers!  Wait…how many suppliers do you have?

After identifying those suppliers who may supply products containing one of the 3TG minerals, the next step for most organizations is to conduct a Reasonable Country of Origin analysis – typically involving sending a survey out to those identified suppliers.

Surveys and policyIQ go together like chocolate and peanut butter, so we know we have that survey part covered!

The challenge, of course, is the aggregation of responses on every unique part that a supplier supplies.  Consider an organization with over 300,000 unique parts supplied to them that may contain one of the 3TG minerals – and you can understand the challenge of effectively capturing, aggregating and reporting on that data.

policyIQ continues to perform faster for ALL of our clients

In addition to building unique functionality to manage the aggregation of large amounts of part-level data – our policyIQ development team has also been busy working to optimize the entire application, so that handling half a million (or a million) records becomes child’s play.  In fact, we’re close to releasing version 7.1, with even more functionality and performance enhancements than the just-released version 7.0.  (policyIQ clients who have not yet upgraded from version 6 will always be upgraded to the latest and greatest version of policyIQ!)

CMReport

Table filters – introduced in version 7.0 – become essential, so that a conflict minerals project manager can filter out the relevant responses for follow-up.  Bulk changes – to update status or follow-up actions – are performed on thousands of records at a time.

The best part?  Every policyIQ client benefits from these improvements.

So if anyone asks you if you are impacted by Dodd-Frank’s Conflict Minerals regulation, you can accurately say, “Yes!” – even if that impact might just be in the technology enhancements you enjoy as a policyIQ client.

Let our experienced Conflict Minerals team help you

RGPRGP has put together an incredible team of experienced professionals who have gone through the Conflict Minerals compliance process with organizations across the country.  Reach out to us and we’ll put you in touch with the regional expert to help you understand the impacts and put a plan in place for your compliance program!

Lessons learned from Conflict Minerals compliance

goldsmeltingIf you have been wishing that the Conflict Minerals compliance requirement of the Dodd-Frank Act was going to just go away, I am afraid that your wish has not come true.  This provision – applicable to any SEC filer who manufactures or contracts to manufacture products with Tin, Tantalum, Gold or Tungsten (or their derivatives) – are directly impacted, with companies all over the globe finding themselves impacted as suppliers to these organizations.

Already four months into 2013, companies who are subject to the provision need to act now to prepare for reporting.  For those just getting started, the good news is that many companies have already had these efforts under way for some time – and as more companies begin the detailed work of getting compliance, there are more lessons learned and best practices to share.

Challenges, Lessons Learned, and Practical Considerations

This Tuesday, Resources Global Professionals partnered with the law firm of Crowell & Moring to do just that.  Thought leaders from both organizations teamed up to present “Conflict Minerals & Gaining a Competitive Advantage: Challenges, Lessons Learned, and Practical Considerations”.

Danielle Sugarman, an associate at Crowell & Moring, reviewed the details of the Conflict Minerals provision, while Jon Wesoky, the Global Managing Director of RGP’s Supply Chain Practice, illustrated some critical lessons learned by companies who have begun their efforts to become compliant with Dodd-Frank’s Conflict Minerals provision.  Through countless discussions with companies across the globe – both SEC filers who are directly subject to the rule and companies who supply materials to those subject to the rule – Mr. Wesoky and the RGP Supply Chain Practice are able to share best practices to overcoming common strategic and logistical challenges of conflict minerals compliance.

As a partner at Crowell & Moring, Morris Defeo leads their Middle East and North Africa practice, and is a thought leader in the area of Conflict Minerals compliance and reporting.  Mr. Defeo provided an overview of the risks and responsibilities of organizations – and illustrated some practical ways to manage expectations appropriately.

Review the webinar at your convenience

If you are just getting started with your Conflict Minerals compliance program – or if you have not taken any action just  yet – I would encourage you to check out the recording of this highly informative webinar.  You can access the webinar here at your convenience.

Contact us and find out how RGP and policyIQ can help!

We also encourage you to reach out to us and the team at RGP if you want to learn more about your obligations under the Conflict Minerals provision, how RGP subject matters experts can help, or how policyIQ can provide the technology you’ll need to gather relevant data – contact us today!

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year from your friends at policyIQ!

xmasornamentOur policyIQ team wanted to take a moment to send you all our best wishes, and to take a look back at 2012.

We started off the year by listening to you

We started off this year with our client survey, asking you how we could improve our policyIQ product, our support and our services. So many of you took the time to let us know how we were doing and what we could be doing better – and your feedback has been invaluable. Based on your feedback, we . . .

  • Took a new approach to training by focusing on providing some simplified job aids (checklists and tip sheets).
  • Launched our new blog with easier searching and tagging, so that we could make our written information more accessible to all of you.
  • Implemented a new process around reviewing and responding to all feature requests on a bi-weekly basis, to get you feedback more quickly and consistently.

We have added to and improved the policyIQ solutions offered

We’ve also worked on new policyIQ solutions for Conflict Minerals Compliance, improved our offering for Anti-Corruption Compliance and took a look at how we can Streamline your Internal Audit Testing.

We can’t wait to launch the next generation of policyIQ: Version 7.0!

Of course, our biggest project this year has been our work on policyIQ version 7.0, which was launched to a number of beta clients last month. We heard your need for cross-browser compatibility, simplified navigation and improved speed – and we incorporated that into the next generation of policyIQ. The feedback from our beta clients has been extremely positive. Here are just a couple of recent quotes:

  • It’s so much faster!
  • Much more friendly without the modules.
  • It’s nice to not have so many pop-ups.
  • Very intuitive! If you’ve used a previous version of policyIQ, there is no additional training necessary.

We are looking forward to rolling our version 7.0 in the start of 2013!

We consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to have such an engaged community of policyIQ users, and we are happy to continue to have opportunities to work with you all to create success for your organizations. We can never thank you enough.

From myself and the entire policyIQ team, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the very best in the coming New Year!

2012 Resources Global Professionals and policyIQ Webcasts in Review

Once again, it is time to wrap up another year of successes and challenges. It is our hope that we – Resources Global Professionals and the policyIQ Team – played a role in getting you through this year with at least an ounce of sanity remaining.

We understand that every major business initiative and regulatory directive presents its own unique challenges for global businesses. Our goal is to help our clients approach these initiatives armed with practical intelligence that helps them plan and execute effectively and to avoid pitfalls. This is why Resources Global Professionals offered many valuable learning opportunities throughout 2012 via webcasts that focused on a variety of leading topics. The webcasts provided insights, case examples, and subject matter expertise from those who have been on the front line working with business leaders – as part of their teams – to solve problems, transfer knowledge and drive change from the inside out.

So that you may view any that you missed, or simply would like a refresher, below is a list of the topics presented and a link to each recording. To view a recording, simply click the topic of your choice.

Finance and Accounting

Supply Chain

The Change Management Series

Legal / IM / General Business

policyIQ

Information on the 2013 Resources Global Professionals series and policyIQ presentations will be available in the New Year and we look forward to having you join us again.

 

Resources Global is ready to assess your Conflict Minerals Readiness

Since the formal approval of the Conflict Minerals rule (part of the Dodd-Frank Act) by the SEC in August, it seems that there are more questions than answers.  Among the questions being asked by organizations like yours:

– How is my company impacted?  Does it apply?

– How deep should my organization go in due diligence?  What are others in our industry doing?

– How much time and money will it take for our company to comply?

Resources Global is ready to help you to answer those questions with our Conflict Minerals solutions and experienced consultants.

Our team members include consultants who have been on the forefront of the Conflict Minerals due diligence process, participating in industry groups to help define the guidance.  We’ve built our methodology using policyIQ, to provide clear project management and oversight in an easy-to-use platform.

Get more information on our website, or reach out to us and we’ll be happy to connect you to experts in your region who can work with you to perform a Quick Diagnostic as a first step to determining your readiness!

Conflict Minerals Regulations: Don’t underestimate the impact on YOUR organization

I am willing to bet that there are less than a handful of policyIQ blog readers out there right now who haven’t heard of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”).  Dodd-Frank has been a news-worthy item before it was even signed into law in 2010 for both the regulation that it now imposes on companies doing business in the United States, as well as the regulations that it has so far failed to implement.

But how much do you know about the Conflict Minerals Provision of Dodd-Frank that requires public companies to provide transparency around where specific minerals in their products or production process originate from?  Even if you think you aren’t affected, keep reading.  The impact may be larger than you think.

goldWhat are Conflict Minerals – and what does the “Conflict” refer to?

Conflict Minerals is a term that refers to gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum – and any of their derivatives.  These specific minerals are identified as “conflict” minerals, because it is widely recognized that profits from the primary sources of these minerals go to support violence and repression in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”) and some neighboring countries.  The materials may not all be common names, but they are widely found in consumer products and they are frequently used in the manufacturing process.  Electronics, jewelry, solder, wires – even packaging and promotional materials – often contain these minerals.

The goal of the Conflict Minerals Provision of Dodd-Frank is to minimize the use of these minerals from the DRC or find “conflict-free” sources from which to purchase.

So what does Dodd-Frank’s Conflict Minerals Provision require?

The Conflict Mineral Provision aims to create a more transparent supply chain – to require companies to disclose their use of Conflict Minerals and from where those minerals originate.  The details have not been finalized, but essentially all public companies will be required to a.) determine if they use the conflict minerals in their products or production process (even in trace amount), and if so, b.) follow the supply chain back to the source.  If a company does use minerals sourced from the DRC (or if they cannot determine the source), that company will be required to provide an audited Conflict Minerals Report within their Annual Report.  Companies who do not source minerals from the DRC can include a simple disclosure (along with their methods of making that determination) within the Annual Report.

There are no penalties or requirements for an organization to discontinue the use of minerals sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but by requiring that a company expose their supply chain and disclose the source, the expectation is that there will be pressure from various stakeholders for a company to be “conflict free”.

What does this mean to you? 

If you are an SEC filer and you produce or sell a product that contains these conflict minerals – or uses these conflict minerals as a part of your production process – you will be impacted.  These minerals might be found in packaging for your product.  They might be in promotional materials for your product.  They might be found in trace amounts, but in critical parts of your production process, such as the soldering of parts or wiring of components.  The bottom line is this:  If you produce or sell a physical product, you need to be educated on the Conflict Minerals Provision.

Get up to speed and plug into Resources Global Supply Chain Practice

scm_facebookThere are lots of online sources of information, but if you need to learn more about how the Conflict Minerals Provision affects your businesss – and what you can do to prepare today – let us put you in touch with experts from the Resources Global Professionals’ Supply Chain Practice.  This team recently published a Client Alert, which can be found on our Resources’ website, with lots of great information about Conflict Minerals – and they will continue to provide updates and guidance as the SEC refines the details.  If you are not already receiving updates from Resources Global, let us know and we’ll introduce you to our colleagues in your local Resources’ office.  They will make sure that your contact information is included on the mailing list for future alerts!

We’ve also recently launched a Facebook page for our Supply Chain Practice, so that our experts can update and interact with supply chain professionals across the globe.  Check out the page, “Like” it to see updates in your own feed, and join the conversation!