Planning the Internal Investigation
Author: Michael L. Buckner, Esquire (Shareholder)
Once an organization determines who will conduct the internal investigation, it is crucial to properly plan the inquiry. The planning phase involves: (a) reaching a preliminary determination of the scope, goals, facts and issues involved in the inquiry; (b) preparing the investigation plan; and (c) creating and maintaining an investigative management file.
An investigator should begin planning the internal investigation by making a preliminary determination of the following items:
Investigation Plan and Chart
After a preliminary determination has been developed by the investigator, the preparation of an investigation plan and investigation chart are key to a successful inquiry. An investigation plan maps out the strategy and steps involved in an inquiry and includes, at a minimum, the following items:
The plan should be reviewed and approved by the organization’s chief executive officer or the person at the organization to whom the investigator reports. After the plan has been approved, the investigator should review the plan periodically during the course of the inquiry. Most importantly, the plan should be flexible so that it can be revised if the investigator receives pertinent additional information or feedback, including: (a) addition of tasks to address any oversights; (b) adjustments to the investigation timeline; (c) determination if additional documents need to be collected or persons interviewed; and (d) identification of issues or allegations that require a separate investigation.
Based on the available information, an investigator prepares an initial investigation chart. An investigation chart contains the associations of people and organizations, as well as important events, involved in the alleged violation. This exercise enables an investigator to understand the assorted information in a visual format. Also, an investigation chart can be used to prepare for interviews or to design evidence searches. An investigation chart should be revised as the investigator collects additional information during the investigation.
Investigation Management File
An effective investigation is maintained through the documentation, filing and maintenance of information collected by investigators. A well-organized investigation management file allows investigators to access or locate quickly and efficiently the log of collected physical evidence, interview tapes and summaries, list of important persons and organizations, resource directory and other investigative materials. An investigation management file consists of the following elements: (a) a means to catalog the information using a computer system, filing system or card reference system; and (b) a secure place to store the information. No matter what system an investigator implements, however, it must be organized, maintained and able to provide the investigator with information at a moment’s notice. Most importantly, a complete investigation management file places everything that assists the investigator when preparing the investigation report.
Contact Michael L. Buckner (954-941-1844; firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information on conducting internal investigations.