Definition

compliance framework

Contributor(s): Ben Cole

A compliance framework is a structured set of guidelines that details an organization's processes for maintaining accordance with established regulations, specifications or legislation. It outlines the regulatory compliance standards relevant to the organization and the business processes and internal controls the organization has in place to follow to these standards.

Such a framework can include communication processes, risk controls and governance practices for maintaining compliance. The framework should also specify which compliance processes overlap to help eliminate redundancies.

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Regulations have rapidly increased in recent years. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was accepted by the European Union in 2016 and went into effect in 2018. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect on January 1, 2020, creating state-level regulations that organizations must comply with in addition to other existing federal data privacy regulations.  

As a result, a market has developed to help organizations create comprehensive compliance frameworks. The COBIT 5 framework and the Unified Compliance Framework are two popular resources for organizations trying to establish and manage best practices for maintaining corporate compliance.

This was last updated in April 2020

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