Investigators: Don’t Forget the Positive Facts!

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 unfounded cloud placed over an agency can go a long way to reminding agency staff that your job is only to uncover wrongdoing, not to serve as an antagonist.  When you are conducting an investigation on a staff member suspected of wrongdoing, other staff will be more cooperative if they don’t view you as the enemy of the agency.

Here are a couple of ways to highlight positive findings:

Focus on Solutions:  Many of the recommendations investigators make aren’t referrals for prosecution – they are critical assessments of agency processes.  Some of these processes are simply wasteful, while others create security risks or provide opportunities for third parties to overcharge the agency.  An important part of pointing out these flaws is to recommend a course of action that would correct them.

Rather than just making a recommendation, however, investigators should track the implementation of the plan.  When strong progress is made, this should be noted both in formal reports to the IG’s oversight body and to the agency’s leadership.  This is a rare opportunity to provide praise to agency staff and support a view of your office as fair and impartial.

Clear the air:  Investigators should empathize with the stress put on a suspect, and this is especially true when an investigation clears the suspect.  If the investigation was kept confidential, then the parties aware of the investigation deserve to know that the suspect has been cleared once the case is closed.  If the investigation was made public prior to the case being closed, clearing the air publically may be warranted.  Obviously, in these situations, there may be restrictions on acknowledging an investigation that impact how this is handled.

To learn more about how CMTS can help your agency close more cases through increased efficiency and alignment of your people, processes and policies, call us at 919.600.5102 or email Team_CMTS@WingSwept.com

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