Investigators Help Citizens Through Social Media

Posted on September11, 2017
The hurricanes faced by Texas and the southeastern United States in the last couple of weeks brought to light once again the value that government can provide to its citizens via social media (especially Twitter).  Before the hurricanes hit land, updates from the National Hurricane Center staff and the National Weather Service were collectively re-tweeted hundreds of thousands of times, ensuring information about hurricane movements and dangers were being seen quickly.  After the hurricanes pass, people are being re-united with…

Engaged Employees = More Tips

Posted on August31, 2017
Gallup’s recent State of the Worker report indicates that employee engagement in the United States is the highest it’s been in years – at 33%.  Two out of three workers in the US are not engaged in the job they do or the company they work for. Why does this matter to investigative teams?  Low engagement impacts more than just employee productivity.  At best, employees who are “not engaged” are less likely to be concerned enough about their work environment…

Cyber-Intruders Make Data Security and Auditing More Important Than Ever

Posted on August26, 2017
Ransomware has been in the news lately due to a few widespread attacks.  In most cases, ransomware spreads by spam – millions of sketchy emails get sent in the hopes that a few people will follow a link that downloads malware onto a networked computer, infecting the company. Ransomware is plenty scary (and plenty expensive), but government agencies should be even more alert for a more sophisticated technique called "spear-phishing” that targets the owners of high-value data.  Since the data…

If It Looks Too Good to Be True…..

Posted on August19, 2017
Many of the greatest frauds in history are stunningly obvious with the benefit of hindsight.  A recent article on the conviction of pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli points out this very fact, placing blame on the victims’ decision to chase financial returns they may not have even believed could be legally gained – instead believing that the fraud wouldn’t collapse before they made out handsomely.  In many cases, plenty of investors do just fine in these fraudulent schemes, effectively taking from…

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…