MicroPact Blog

State OIGs: Is Your Audit and Investigation Data Referenceable?

Make Sure Fact-Finding Efforts Hold Up in Testimony and Reports

Gary Walker's avatar

By: Gary Walker

April 18, 2018 | Justice and Law Enforcement

The mission of state offices of inspector general (OIGs) is to combat fraud, waste, and abuse in the agencies under their jurisdiction. They do this through two core functions: audits (including inspections and evaluations) and investigations. While there are good reasons to separate the work of OIG auditors and inspectors, both divisions can benefit from a case management system (CMS) that securely stores, tracks, retrieves, shares, and reports on information.

Unfortunately, today only the largest state OIGs benefit from automation, and only a handful of them use a system that ensures all captured information is referenceable in the eyes of prosecutors and legislators. If you’re collecting information that can’t be easily retrieved, your office is likely shortchanging itself in terms of recoveries and funding.

OIG Software Needs of Investigators and Auditors

On the investigation side, special agents look into allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct, often received via a whistleblower hotline. Many investigations are administrative in nature, but apparent criminal cases may be referred to law enforcement for prosecution. Regardless of type, all investigations follow the typical case management cycle: intake; decision to investigate; assignment; evidence collection, subpoena issuance, and other activities; report of investigation; and closure.

On the audit side, auditors conduct systematic reviews of an agency’s programs and operations (including those performed by its contractors and grantees), and report their findings and recommendations. Auditors also prepare hearing testimony for OIG senior executives and produce the semiannual reports that determine program funding. Because these deliverables undergo intense scrutiny, every fact must be 100% verifiable and traceable to be included.

The Cost of “Making Do”

Especially at the state level, smaller OIGs typically rely on a mix of paper, spreadsheets, and perhaps a homegrown database. Offices with more than 50 employees may use a SaaS CMS, but often the system can’t be configured to align with the agency’s policies and procedures. Instead, the agency must adapt its practices to match the vendor’s idea of one-size-fits-all.

Some key features may be missing altogether, such as:

  • Digital evidence tags — For investigators, tagging evidence at the crime scene still involves paper tags that must later be transcribes into the CMS.

  • Information retrieval — A repository is only useful if you can unlock the data stored inside.

  • Reporting — If the system makes it difficult to consolidate and analyze investigative data, building a solid narrative around required metrics is a heavy lift. Manually producing the semi-annual reports that determine an OIG’s funding can mean pulling agents out of the field for weeks at a time.

Not surprisingly, even “automated” agencies may use a patchwork of systems to do the job: a CMS for case intake, assignment, and closure supplemented by word processing, spreadsheets, and paper to track detailed case activity and create reports.

Meanwhile, overblown functionality creates another set of issues for auditors. Many OIGs use a separate audit management system to ensure that investigation data isn’t discoverable. But because audit management systems are basically content management systems, it’s difficult to extract and share information from them when needed. Here again, one size doesn’t fit all. These systems tend to be more complex than necessary for OIG auditors, whose needs are better met by a CMS.

Go Paperless With entellitrak

MicroPact offers a continuously configurable CMS that can be hosted on premises or in the cloud. The affordable solution enables OIGs of all sizes to manage audits and investigations using two related applications on a single platform, entellitrak. Audit and investigation information is stored separately but can be readily exchanged. Because entellitrak is a low-code platform for application development, it can be configured to support new regulations and agency-specific practices without requiring code changes.

For both investigators and auditors, entellitrak automates activities from cradle to grave. Using a mobile device, investigators can create digital evidence tags onsite, which are automatically captured in the CMS. Two features in particular are indispensable for helping OIGs both improve their performance and document their achievements to support annual funding requests:

  • Searching — Authorized users can search on any data captured in the system. That means critical information won’t be omitted from a testimony or report because it can’t be referenced. By performing ad hoc queries that filter results based on user-defined criteria (e.g., recoveries, savings, etc.), agents can produce accurate semi-annual reports in days instead of weeks.

  • Tracking — The need to improve accountability is driving state OIGs to look for systems with granular tracking capability. In addition to investigation progress, OIGs need to track and report on operational measures such as hotline complaints and performance against recommendations or findings.

entellitrak is used by federal OIGs at agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the General Accountability Office. These same capabilities are available to state OIGs in an affordable application accelerator that can be further configured to meet your needs. Contact us to learn more.

About the Author

Gary Walker was a member of the MicroPact Justice and Law Enforcement team from 2013-2019. 

Tyler Technologies is the largest and most established provider of integrated software and technology services focused on the public sector

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