In this episode of Trekking Through Compliance, we consider the episode The Mark of Gideon which aired on January 11, 1969, Star Date 5423.4.

Story Synopsis

In an attempt to establish diplomatic relations with planet Gideon, Kirk beams down to the sensor-shielded planet using coordinates supplied by Gideon ambassador Hodin. Gideon has refused to let any ambassadors beam down or to permit any sensor scans but has indicated to the Federation that their planet is virtually a paradise. However, they agree to let Kirk beam alone.

When Kirk materializes, he finds himself still on the transporter pad aboard the Enterprise. To his great surprise, he appears to be completely alone and there is no sign of the crew. After noticing a bruise on his arm, Kirk encounters a girl named Odona. Odona denies any knowledge of how she got there or what is going on. She tells Kirk her last memory is of being in an overcrowded auditorium struggling for air, and how wonderful it is to have such freedom of movement.

Back aboard the real Enterprise, Spock is attempting to determine why ambassador Hodin denies the fact that Kirk has ever been beamed down. His attempts to obtain authorization to search for Kirk are foiled when Starfleet bureaucrats insist that he contact the Federation diplomats in the Department of Planetary Treaties, and vice versa. After beaming up and down Hodin’s assistant Krodak from the council chamber to test the transporter, Hodin refuses to allow Spock to beam down, despite the fact that he had previously agreed to do so.

Meanwhile, on the deserted Enterprise, Odona tells Kirk that there is no place on her planet which is not filled with people, and that the inhabitants would kill or die for the privilege of being alone. While Kirk is busy kissing Odona, he does not notice that the ship’s viewing screen has become filled with the faces of people. After leaving the bridge, Kirk hears a strange sound outside the ship and opens the viewing port. To his surprise, he briefly sees the faces of a crowd, which quickly fade into stars.

Kirk begin to suspect that something is very wrong, but when he confronts Odona, she complains that she feels very strange, then collapses. Kirk carries her towards sickbay but is met by Hodin and taken into custody. Hodin tells Kirk that Odona is his daughter, and that she has been infected with Vegan coreomenengitis from Kirk’s blood. Hodin explains that the germ-free atmosphere and an increasingly long-life span on Gideon have created a vast overpopulation problem, and that he hopes to bring it under control by introducing disease.

When Kirk asks why the population was not sterilized, Hodin says the organs of the people of Gideon regenerate themselves. When Kirk then asks Hodin why the people of Gideon have not practiced birth control, Hodin replies that the people of Gideon believe life is sacred and that the love of life is the greatest gift, and that they therefore cannot interfere with the creation of life. Hodin tells Kirk that he must stay to provide the virus to infect the people of Gideon and bring the population under control. Kirk points out that Odona need not die, and that there is furthermore no need for him to stay since if Odona survives, her blood can provide the virus. However, Hodin tells Kirk that Odona’s voluntary death at such a young age will bring forward dedicated young volunteers to also be infected.

By this time, Spock has discovered that the two sets of coordinates with which he has been provided do not match. After Admiral Fitzgerald continues to refuse to let Spock beam down, Spock disobeys orders and beams down to the first set of coordinates. He discovers the exact replica of the Enterprise to which Kirk was beamed and locates Kirk. Spock overpowers the guards, and he and Kirk beam up with Odona to the real Enterprise. As he is leaving, Spock quips to the ambassador, “Your excellency, please do not interfere; I already have one serious problem to resolve with upper echelons.” McCoy heals Odona and she is beamed back to Gideon where her blood can now serve as the source of Vegan coreomenengitis for her people.

Fun Fact 

According to the Memory Alpha listing this episode, The story for this episode was co-written by Stanley Adams, who previously played Cyrano Jones in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. Reportedly, Adams was deeply concerned about the issue of overpopulation and had some casual discussions with Gene Roddenberry, during the production of “The Trouble with Tribbles”, in which he suggested that Star Trek do an episode reflecting that subject matter. This episode is the evident result of those conversations. Adams’ writing of this episode was influenced by advice from his son. Explained the writer, “My son says, ‘Dad, you’re in a position to really say something about the overpopulation problem.’.

Compliance Takeaways:

  1. Why is compliance needed at the Board level?
  2. How do you promote middle management up to senior management?
  3. What is your triage protocol?


Excruciatingly Detailed Plot Summary by Eric W. Weisstein for The Mark of Gideon Mark of Gideon

Memory Alpha –The Mark of Gideon

On this episode of The Ethics Experts, Nick speaks with Karin Volo about how Marketing and HR now have a seat at the table with IT, profits, and productivity!

Check out more episodes, and don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform!

Where does “tone at the top” start? With any public and most private U.S. companies, it is at the Board of Directors. But what is the role of a company’s Board in compliance? First a Board should not engage in management but should engage in oversight of a CEO and senior management. The Board does this through asking hard questions, risk assessment and identification.

Initially it must be important that the Board receive direct access to such information on a company’s policies on this issue. The Board must have quarterly or semi-annual reports from a company’s CCO to either the Audit Committee or the Compliance Committee. Every Board should create a Compliance Committee to deal with compliance issues, as an Audit Committee may more appropriately deal with financial audit issues. A Board Compliance Committee can devote itself exclusively to non-financial compliance. The Board’s oversight role should be to receive such regular reports on the structure of the company’s compliance program, its actions and self-evaluations. From this information the Board can give oversight to any modifications to managing FCPA risk that should be implemented. CCO reporting to the Compliance Committee must be structured carefully to promote ethics and compliance.

Three key takeaways:

  1. A Board Compliance Committee should provide oversight not management.
  2. A CCO should use multiple reports to communicate with the Board Compliance Committee.
  3. Board Compliance Committee oversight makes companies more efficient and at the end of the day more profitable.

Welcome to a special five-part podcast series, A Conversation with Convercent and StoneTurn: From the Code of Conduct to Risk Assessment to Continuous Improvement. This week’s podcast series is jointly sponsored by Convercent and StoneTurn. Over the course of the series we will explore the impacts on corporate compliance programs from the recently released 2020 Update to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs (2020 Update). We focus on investigations, data analytics, evaluating compliance programs, internal reporting and corporate culture. Participants in this podcast series include: Asha Palmer, Convercent Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer (CECO) and Executive Vice President (EVP) of CONVERGE; Rex Homme, Michele Edwards, and Stephen Martin, all Partners at StoneTurn. In this first episode, we take a deep dive with Homme into conducting investigations and ensuring consistent outcomes.

We began by considering how the 2020 Update emphasized the need for the corporate compliance function to ensure both consistency and fairness not only in monitoring investigations but also in monitoring the resulting discipline. One of the ways the 2020 Update emphasized this was through tracking the investigations and the discipline that may come out of any investigation. Homme noted, “One of the challenges companies have is facts and circumstances are always different in every investigation. This makes it sometimes difficult, but if companies treat employees of one country different in terms of discipline, it does create potential gaps in a compliance program. This can then give certain countries a feeling that they can do what they want, without the risk of punishment from corporate headquarters.” This is why the DOJ re-emphasized monitoring the investigations and ensuring consistent application of discipline as a critical factor in ensuring an effective compliance program.

We next considered the FCPA Resource Guide, 2nd edition, which added a new hallmark to the previously titled 10 Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program, now it is simply the Hallmarks. The Hallmark added was one which has been around for some time and it is Root Cause Analysis (RCA). It is not new because it was subtly considered in the original FCPA Resource Guide and explicitly discussed since at least the original formulation of the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs in February 2017. Homme began by explaining the difference in a RCA from an investigation.

Homme noted, “in my view, the root cause analysis is really driving into what were the gaps in the compliance program, what happened that allowed this behavior to occur. It is certainly a deeper level than just an investigation. Investigation is focused on who, what, when, where, why and how.” A RCA is really then trying to dig into what programs, policies and procedures may have allowed this misconduct to occur. Homme went on to say, “a root cause really digs into the compliance program and all the procedures to understand what was the overriding of controls, or were these gaps in the controls.”

We then turned to how an organization could use a RCA in a different way than you would utilize investigative findings in continuous monitoring/continuous improvement. It allows you to determine the gaps in your compliance program which need remediation. This leads to one of the overlooked uses of the RCA, which is that it is a part of a corporation’s continuous monitoring and continuous improvement.

We concluded with a consideration of why a compliance program should be dynamic and what procedures a company should put in place to keep their compliance program dynamic. Homme believes that one of the fundamental defects in many corporate compliance function is that they do not often “enough look at their program and assess their program to see that it is effective as possible. We all know that even the best compliance program will still have issues. It just happens. My view is the best way to constantly evaluate your program is by doing periodic risk assessments, actually testing transactions. This means not only looking at the policies themselves, but actually testing the transactions to make sure that they are following the procedures that are laid out.”

If there was a compliance failure, even if it did not lead to a legal violation, you must understand what the root cause of the failure was. Based upon that RCA, are there any enhancements you need to make to your compliance program? Are there any adjustments needed to adjust your internal audit programs? Do you need to adjust your third-party due diligence programs? These are all measures that every organization should take to constantly evaluate their compliance program, to make sure it is dynamic and not static. At the end of the day, if your compliance program is static, people will figure it out and people realize where gaps may exist. “If you’re not constantly evolving, constantly changing, you run the risk of having more misconduct occur.”

Join us tomorrow, as Asha Palmer, CECO at Convercent discusses best practices in internal reporting.


For more information on StoneTurn, check out their website, here.

For more information on Convercent, check out their website, here.

To download a copy of the Convercent Interactive Self-Assessment based on the 2020 Update to the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs, click here.

In the Episode, I visit with James Koukios, partner at Morrison & Foerster, Editor-in-Chief of the firm’s Top 10 International Anti-Corruption Developments. We visit about the firm’s Top 10 International Anti-Corruption Developments for March 2020.

Some of the highlights include:

  1. Portugal Freezes Assets of Africa’s Richest Woman-could this be even bigger than 1 MDB?
  2. Thoughts on Teva FCPA enforcement action in the context of it completing its DPA.
  3. What is the DOJ saying around FCPA enforcement in the Covid-19 era?
  4. What significance, if any, do you see in Mexico request to extradite former Pemex official?
  5. OECD Expresses Concern over Costa Rica’s Foreign Bribery Enforcement Record. What does this mean?


To a copy of the Top 10 International Anti-Corruption Developments for March 2020 Newsletter click here.