You get that call that you dread: an internal investigation is necessary for something that may have occurred within your corporation.
Employee John Smith has been identified as a person that may have violated the FCPA, by providing bribes to foreign officials in order to get a recent contract. You are told the potential locations where these bribes took place and some of the potential people involved. With this little bit of information, the path to a solid internal investigation is already underway.
The Data Plan for an Internal Investigation
The first thing that you do is develop a project plan for implementing the internal investigation. As part of the overall plan, your incorporate document analysis and review as an essential part of the solution.
What are the steps to ensure a successful plan?
- Determine the corpus of documents that must be analyzed and preserved
- Identify the potential custodians that could be involved
- Collect the data for analysis (this could be the whole corpus or a sampling of top custodians initially)
- Use good review practices and analytics to begin to prove or disprove the allegations
- Put together a set of key documents to determine next steps
- After the initial internal investigation is complete, track best practices for next investigation
Let’s return to, and focus on, step 3 for just a moment. Today, more than ever, corporations are realizing the benefits of using technology assisted analysis to identify, categorize and review documents. These tools have matured in the eDiscovery space significantly enough that they collectively have become an invaluable tool to internal investigators trying to determine what a particular story may be.
The beauty of the new technologies that have reached the market is that you can quickly ingest data (terabytes a day) and begin analysis immediately. The initial analysis can immediately identify key concepts present in a data set and determine who within the corporation has been discussing those concepts. Additionally, with the right search specialists, corporations can identify anomalies in the data to quickly recognize coded messages and text.
One of the biggest mistakes that I am seeing in the industry is that these internal investigations are being done only by lawyers or compliance officers. The analytic tools are easier than ever to use but they still require search and data expertise to help expedite the identification of key documents. By using either internal eDiscovery experts or outsourced consultancies, corporations are more likely to get to these documents faster – it’s simple: these experts work with data every single day.
The need for speed and efficiency is easily understandable, as is a sound project schedule and documented processes. Schedule and processes ensure defensibility of the process.
I have seen internal investigations work the best when the investigative goal is clearly identified, an investigation data plan is created and a multi-disciplinary team is put together to manage it. The combination of risk, compliance, legal, IT and data management experts provides the holistic expertise needed to effectively achieve the goals of an internal investigation.
Written by Todd Haley, Vice President, Business Intelligence, eTERA Consulting. Todd can be reached at email@example.com.