In case you thought the background check system relied on by the federal government was pretty much OK despite Edward Snowden’s passing grade, think again.
According to the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general, complaints about investigators filing fraudulent or falsified records have led to 35 cases in fiscal 2013. There are 65 open and pending cases of fabrication – when investigators allegedly just made things up. The report on this is here.
Without taking a position on any individual case, we’ve written before in Real Due Diligence Can Never Be Mass Produced that speed is the enemy of the accurate when it comes to doing a thorough background check. Mostly that’s because computer-generated results are riddled with errors and contradictions that a human being needs to sort out, and much of the good information about people is not written down anywhere.
Until a computer can interview people, human beings have to conduct interviews and human beings need breaks for eating, sleeping and reasoning that can slow a two-hour job down to one that takes longer but should prove a lot more reliable.
The greater the incentives you give to an investigator to finish the job quickly, the more that investigator may be tempted to cut corners to make more money.
If you have two investigators bidding to work for you and one promises to get the job done in significantly less time than the other, it’s time to interview both and ask them to break down how many hours they will spend doing various tasks.
Investigation done properly is as much an art as a science. It takes experience, perseverance, good intuition, great time management and above all intelligence. There is no secret sauce that an investigator should have to conceal from a client. What you check and what results you get should not require an advanced math degree to understand.
Earlier this month we visited a client in California and presented to the entire litigation department exactly how we had uncovered what we think is a fraud being perpetrated by the firm’s litigation opponent.
Without going over the reliability of the evidence, which was not in dispute, we happily divulged databases, search terms, and how long it took to comb through 600 media articles to come to the one that cracked the case.
If your investigator won’t do that kind of thing for you, find one who will. Learning how an investigator operates won’t turn you into an investigator overnight, but this kind of knowledge could save you plenty of money next time you need fact finding help.