I have been most involved with AMI’s corporate practice, with a particular emphasis on federal suspension & debarment matters. When I started with AMI, I had the opportunity to step into the role of Project Manager for the AT&T/DirecTV monitorship. That monitorship stemmed from a requirement imposed by the FCC as a condition for approving the merger between AT&T and DirecTV, providing me with an excellent introduction into the discipline of monitoring and the planning associated with monitoring a complex project with a national footprint. I also served as the monitor for the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) under the university’s Administrative Agreement with USAID. As the AUAF monitor, I was exposed to a world I had only read about in the papers; a world of war and desperation. The images of the beauty and the destruction of Afghanistan continue to haunt and inspire me years after the monitorship ended.
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Mr. Grandon earned a BA from Iowa State University; a JD from Drake University Law School; and an LLM (Public Contract Law) from The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's School.
In which of AMI's service areas have you worked? What are some of your most interesting cases?
What aspect(s) of AMI's work are you personally most passionate about, and why?
We get the opportunity to work with organizations to help them understand and improve their operations. We provide independent and objective observations — the good, the bad, the ugly — to help organizations to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and to better understand their regulatory and operational risks. We also provide our clients with recommendations for improvement. We engage our clients in what I call “objective collaboration.” In my former role as the Department of the Air Force’s Suspending and Debarring Official, I often required monitoring as a critical element for exercising federal oversight over business entities that entered into Administrative Agreements in lieu of being suspended or debarred from the federal marketplace. Those agreements allowed companies to continue receiving federal contracts and other financial assistance while they were given the opportunity to address operational weaknesses and to improve internal compliance programs. Through this process I was the recipient of reports from various monitors, including AMI. While most of the reporting provided excellent and necessary input, I was particularly impressed with AMI’s willingness and ability not only to provide objective observations but also to offer companies recommendations for improvement, as well as a roadmap for implementation. AMI’s willingness to engage in “objective collaboration” with its clients helped those companies to better understand their compliance risks and to align policies, procedures, controls, training, and resources (among other items and efforts) to prevent misconduct and to allow those companies to more readily identify potential misconduct. In many cases, companies reported that the process of improving risk management and strengthening corporate ethics and compliance efforts had the additional benefit of improving overall business operations. With AMI, I am part of this critically important transformative process.
In what ways does your personal expertise complement our services?
I understand compliance challenges and expectations from the government’s perspective and from a company’s perspective. As the Air Force’s Suspending and Debarring Official, I focused my efforts not only on addressing performance and integrity lapses through the suspension and debarment process but, through industry engagement and outreach, on helping companies proactively to achieve business objectives through strong compliance programs and by promoting an ethical culture. I strongly believed then, and I believe now, that the best way to protect the U.S. Government’s business interests (as well as a company’s business interests) is by helping companies to understand that compliance and ethics need to be built into the business process in day-to-day operations, as opposed to merely being part of a company’s response to adverse circumstances. Just as importantly, companies need to recognize that their efforts must be tailored to their specific circumstances and risks. My views are aligned fully with AMI’s approach to serving our clients.
“While we pride ourselves on the independence and objectivity we bring to each engagement, we understand that we can also be a source for helping our clients to recognize and to implement best practices for building and sustaining an effective ethics and compliance program.”
Based on your experiences, what would you like prospective clients to know about AMI?
While we pride ourselves on the independence and objectivity we bring to each engagement, whether we are monitoring in response to government mandates or working with our clients to make proactive improvements, we understand that we can also be a source for helping our clients to recognize and to implement best practices for building and sustaining an effective ethics and compliance program. We understand that effective organizational change can be challenging and is often incremental. We bring a strong sense of reasonableness to each of our engagements, focusing on trends that reflect improvement while recognizing that some organizations will encounter bumps and barriers that occasionally disrupt forward progress. When those bumps and barriers are encountered, we offer recommendations based on our experiences and best practices to help our clients get back on the path to success.
Do you teach and/or conduct seminars, speak at conferences, or serve on boards?
I currently serve as the co-chair of the American Bar Association, Section of Public Contract Law, Debarment and Suspension Committee. In that role, I actively engage in working with my colleagues to offer programs intended to promote thought, leadership, and best practices in our discipline. This includes programs to foster contractor responsibility through effective integrity programs. I frequently speak at programs on topics relating to suspension and debarment, organizational integrity, and government contracting. I recently completed serving on the Board of Directors of Bethany House of Northern Virginia, an organization dedicated to helping those who have suffered due to domestic violence.
What interests do you have outside of work?
I spend as much time as possible with my spouse, family, and friends, mostly in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and camping. If I am not engaged in one of those activities, you will most likely find me joyfully engaged in yard and garden projects.
Rod hiking in Laurel Highlands, PA with his wife, Lori.