Beware! Government Computers Are a Prime Ransomware Target

Posted on August13, 2017
Ransomware has become a major problem in the last few years – statistics vary, but everyone agrees that the number of attacks increased several fold in 2016, and several fold again in 2017.  They inflicted over a billion dollars of damage.  Investigators are especially susceptible to ransomware attacks, both because the information they collect is not easily replaceable, and also because it’s extremely sensitive.  Are your employee inboxes destined to cause a major problem for your agency this year?  …

The Threat of Money Laundering

Posted on August06, 2017
Money laundering remains a key part of most financial corruption.  If the money changing hands is easily tracked, it’s usually not that difficult to determine when improper behavior is at play.  Once investigators lose the ability to follow the money, they lose the ability to talk to everyone involved in the chain of illegal activity.    Of course, that’s not to say that improper behavior involving money laundering can’t be cracked.  Just in the past week, former New York legislator…

Earning the Trust of the Agency Your Investigators Oversee

Posted on July30, 2017
In a recent article on the independence and accountability of Inspectors General, former government official Don Upson makes a great point.  Because federal IGs oversee Executive Branch agencies but provide reports to Congress, they can be viewed with suspicion by agency staff.  This suspicion is greatly enhanced if a member of Congress uses the IG’s report to bring an agency head into Congress and berate them in front of TV cameras – and then use that video on their own…

Three Questions To Ask Before Any Major Agency Purchase

Posted on July21, 2017
There are a lot of reasons to be hesitant about making a major purchase when working inside a government agency.  The procurement process can be cumbersome and time consuming.  High-cost items reduce the budget remaining for critical day-to-day expenditures.  Finally, you have to wonder what the long-term consequences will be if you select the wrong service or vendor. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know ahead of time whether the decision will work out or not – the agency’s needs may change…

Small Tasks Add Up For Investigative Teams

Posted on July15, 2017
Investigators don’t get many opportunities to make lives easier for the agency staff they oversee.  When an opportunity does come along to do a favor without compromising oversight or independence, it’s a great way to build some goodwill.  It has the added benefit of reminding investigative staff that their skills are respected within the agency, which can improve morale.  One example of this is a request to ensure that an agency staff member who is up for promotion hasn’t demonstrated…

Employee Exit Interviews: A Great Place to Learn About Agency Problems

Posted on July09, 2017
Only half of Fortune 500 companies say their organization does a good job with the information gained through employee surveys to make positive change.  Is your agency using the employee surveys it conducts to improve the way it manages employees or produces results for taxpayers?  If not, it is missing a major opportunity for improvement.  One of the most common surveys conducted is the exit interview.  This is also one of the surveys most likely to yield major organizational challenges…

Investigators: Don’t Forget the Positive Facts!

Posted on June29, 2017
The primary goal of most agency investigators (including all Inspectors General offices) is to find and report negative activities – those contributing to fraud, waste and abuse.  That’s why investigators sometimes find themselves under fire from the agencies they oversee – their stated mandate is to ensure agencies stay on the up-and-up by reporting all of the instances when they don’t.   That doesn’t mean that investigators can’t highlight positive findings as well.  Stating an agency’s improvements or removing an…

To Keep Costs Down on RFPs, Avoid Mission Creep

Posted on June23, 2017
As investigative agencies prepare to replace aging software with new software, they are often aiming to accomplish three major goals. They want software that is faster, more stable or more compatible with other new hardware or software entering the office. They want to gain new capabilities to allow their investigators to become more efficient, and to better align the software with any changes they’ve made since they last procured software. They want to purchase software that has higher levels of…

Making the Case for New Technology

Posted on June17, 2017
Depending on where an agency sits within government, the difficulty of navigating a funding request through the procurement process ranges from moderately straightforward to extremely complex.  And while budget constraints are a major factor in procurement difficulty, they certainly aren’t the only one.  In cases where the procurement team deals with a wide range of request types, they may not understand the importance or urgency of software upgrades.  A 2016 report that some government agencies are still running Windows 3.1…

Federal IGs Increasing Scrutiny on Agency IT Systems

Posted on June11, 2017
In the last year, the federal government has faced an unprecedented number of security challenges, including theft of employee data, national security secrets, and insecure voting machines.  While Inspectors’ General offices have been pointing out these types of security threats for years, they are raising the volume in the hopes that quicker action will be taken before something catastrophic happens.    Consider these three examples in just the last month: The VA OIG told Congress that agency’s data “may not…