At Microsoft, Government Relations reports to the General Counsel

Out of a total of 850 on the staff of Brad Smith, GC of Microsoft, 175 work on government relations (up from 75 in 2001). The Financial Times (April 2005 at 9), in its profile of Smith, added that more than half of the government relations staff are based overseas.

Putting aside the sheer bulk of the group and its international footprint, reflect on the appropriateness of reporting government relations – monitoring legislative initiatives, lobbying legislators, and influencing regulatory agencies – with the “chief corporate legal officer.” Twenty percent of his reporting group, yet its connection to legal advice giving can be tenuous.

My larger point: when every action of a company touches a law, how does the CEO decide which functions to place under the general counsel? Why not HR, with its legal underpinnings, or internal audit, which ferrets out wrongdoing, or distriibution? Smith of Microsoft is also the company’s chief compliance officer, which is another function whose structural ties could place it in several reporting lines

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