To the editor:
All governments need checks and balances. Barrington is no exception.
As a Barrington resident and taxpayer, I appreciate Professor Ruggieri using her skills to examine a town matter. In this era of budget constraints, having that expertise at no cost to the taxpayers is a generous contribution.
I am a quality assurance professional. I have my professional qualifications, am peer-reviewed, internationally published, and I do forensic (root cause) investigations into all types of matters and situations. While I am no accountant, the investigative methods that I use are similar enough to those described by Professor Ruggieri that I would like to offer the following for consideration.
Sometimes, an investigator’s findings and conclusions cause discord. Challenges are not unusual. An investigator anticipates them. Findings and conclusions must be objective and able to stand on their own. Skimpy work and personal biases are career killers. Continuous verifications of facts and statements, therefore, are imperatives for a thorough investigation. Investigations include records and objective data. These are the hard facts. However, not everything that contributes to a situation gets recorded nor is everything measured. That would be impossible.
The deeper the investigation, the clearer the picture emerges. If discoveries are cloudy or open to interpretation, it is common to seek out what a third party might know on the matter, such as Professor Ruggieri contacting the Barrington Times.
This is not being underhanded. It is merely utilizing a good investigation technique and part of the job. Making inquiries provides information and perspectives that cannot be obtained otherwise. Everybody has opinions, some admittedly self-serving, and memories can be unreliable. These softer inputs are cautiously weighed against the facts.
A third party’s information or long-term experience with the body in question will usually validate what somebody has said or what the figures are indicating. If not, caution is advised and more investigation is warranted.
Does this mean that the new information and opinions are fully accurate or true? Of course not. Lies and incorrect information do happen. They can even be embellished or spread by those who trusted what they received or were told.
A good investigator knows this. The investigator’s profession knows this as well, which is why the tips and techniques they have developed over the years to gather information and separate genuine errors from possible deceit are so effective.
Transparency can be uncomfortable even when the people involved acted according to their best understanding. Most managers stand by their departments’ work and know that audits come with the job.
Finding exactly what the problem is and its cause are the goals. To prevent reoccurrences or future misunderstandings, processes, policies, and procedures are improved. If disagreements arise, both sides typically sit down and go over everything together. If the issue is sensitive or hostility is sensed, a good investigator may decline a meeting until further direction is obtained or a neutral party can be brought in for civility’s sake. This is what professionals do.
What they do not do is boorishly demand somebody’s firing.