In recent years, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been beating the self-disclosure drum with a series of policies designed to encourage and reward corporate self-disclosure of misconduct. Under the policies, the ultimate reward—a declination—is within reach for most companies willing to come forward and “timely” self-disclose misconduct.

Yet, these policies, and recently publicized declinations and resolutions, also make clear that self-disclosure alone does not beget a declination. To the contrary, self-disclosure is only the beginning of a long road for companies hoping to achieve a declination. While “timely” is not defined in most of the policies, recent resolutions suggest that, to earn a declination, companies need to disclose within weeks, or perhaps even hours, of confirming the existence of any misconduct. After making the fraught decision to disclose without full information, a company’s ongoing cooperation obligations begin.