One thing economists look at to determine economic strength is the unemployment rate. It’s an excellent indicator of economic strength – when unemployment is high, it’s very difficult for the wider economy to overcome that fact and still deliver growth.
Unfortunately, it’s a lagging indicator of economic strength. It doesn’t predict where the economy is going – it tells us where it is, or where it has recently been. So while the correlation is great, it’s mostly useless for making decisions on economic policy.
Investigative agencies face a similar dilemma. Many of them are tasked with preventing fraud, waste and abuse within their agency. Unfortunately, the number of investigations that led to disciplinary action or prosecution is a lagging indicator of how successful the office has been at preventing misbehavior or misappropriated funding. Even when an instance of wasted or stolen money is identified, the money cannot always be recovered.
Of course, investigations have tremendous value. They hold people accountable for their actions. They make sure better decisions are made by the agency in the future. Most importantly, they demonstrate to the public and to agency employees that bad behavior has consequences.
But to truly reduce bad behavior in the future, agencies need more than solid fact gathering techniques. They need strong communication.
Investigative team leaders need to convince agency employees that bad behavior will be identified and it won’t be tolerated. They need to convince employees that reporting misconduct is easy enough (and confidential enough) that a co-worker won’t hesitate to report it as soon as they see it. And they need to hear about those past examples of employees who tried to cover up misconduct and weren’t successful.
Without strong communications, investigations will only be a lagging indicator of the agency’s responsibility and integrity. With strong communications, however, each investigation will serve to remind both the taxpaying public and agency employees that instances of irresponsibility and impropriety will be rooted out of the agency quickly.
What does your team do to enhance communication with agency employees? Do you find opportunities to talk with small groups of agency employees throughout the year? Do you run an awareness week, such as the City of Philadelphia’s Integrity Week? Do you use your agency’s senior leadership to help get your message out? All of these things can help turn your successful investigative tools into a valuable preventative measure.
To learn how CMTS can help your agency close cases more efficiently, call us at 855-667-8877 or email us at Team_CMTS@CMTS.com.