Investigating

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How to use this tool:   

  • This tool is designed for IM specialists to use with relevant business areas when identifying information resources of business value (IRBV) and retention specifications.
  • The IRBV and retention specifications contained in this document are recommendations only and should be customized to apply in each institutional context. The complete document should be read before using any recommendations.
  • This Generic Valuation Tool does not provide Government of Canada institutions with the authority to dispose of information. Generic Valuation Tools (GVT) are not Records Disposition Authorities (RDA) and do not replace the Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities (MIDA).

Validation: The business processes and IRBV of this GVT have been validated by subject matter experts from the following departments: Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada (OCL), the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI), and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).

Defining the Activity

Investigation involves gathering, from a variety of sources, evidence and information relevant to a suspected violation, accident or wrongdoing, and making a recommendation or determination based on the findings.

There are many types of investigations performed in the Government of Canada (GC) that are conducted for various purposes. Types of investigations include: criminal, regulatory, accident, human rights, and administrative fairness.

Based on a review of multiple institutions that perform this activity, investigating is rarely expressed in the Program Activity Architecture (PAA) by that term. More commonly, it is referred to as complaints resolution, review, detection, dispute resolution, or as an ombudsman activity. Investigating may appear as a program activity or, more commonly for larger institutions, at the sub-activity level. When investigating appears in the PAA as a sub-activity, it is often expressed as part of regulation, compliance, enforcement, protection, or risk activities. For clarity, in this Generic Valuation Tool (GVT), investigating will be referred to as an activity, though it may also be used at the sub-activity level.

Investigating is not prescribed in a stabilized manner across the GC, though it is prescribed for certain individual institutions. Despite the lack of prescription, investigations are conducted in a predictable manner regardless of the type of investigation conducted or the subject matter being examined. As such, this GVT relies on legislation, policies and guidelines from multiple institutions across the GC that conduct investigations.

Relationship to Other GVTs

Business processes often overlap. When the IRBV for a sub-activity is also identified in another GVT, there is a note in the table of IRBV and retention recommendations (below) to direct the user to the proper tool.

The Investigating GVT addresses investigations performed by an institution in the course of fulfilling its operational mandate. Any complaints investigations related to an internal service will be addressed by the GVT related to that sub-activity. For example, complaints investigations conducted into harassment in the workplace are addressed by the GVT for Human Resources Management.

Management and Oversight: All policy and procedures related to investigating are addressed in the Management and Oversight GVT. Additionally, though audits are a type of investigation related to an institution’s finances, they have been identified by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) as forming part of the Management and Oversight Internal Service and are therefore addressed in that GVT.

Communications: Communications are an integral part of the investigating process. Many institutions are required to communicate with the media and the public throughout the course of an investigation, and many investigations generate a significant amount of media attention. Furthermore, the findings and recommendations made in many investigations are published in print form and on institutional websites. Though the Investigating GVT will make reference to how investigations are communicated to the media and the public, the business processes associated with this communication are included in the GVT for Communications Services.

Adjudication: Many investigations are conducted for the purposes of resolving disputes and some result in the determination of penal liability. Cases may be escalated to an adjudicative body following the investigation when alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation, are not successful. Any processes that follow the issuance of the final investigation report, such as mediation or court action, are addressed in the Adjudicating GVT.

Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement: The relationship between regulating and investigating is complex. Put simply, investigating is often a process within the regulating activity. According to institutional policies for Environment Canada, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a significant part of regulating involves compliance Footnote1 Compliance refers to the state of conformity with the law, which is achieved through promotion and enforcement. Footnote2 Enforcement consists of inspections to verify compliance, investigations of violations, and measures to compel compliance. The distinction between inspection and investigation is that inspections are undertaken to verify and achieve compliance with legislation, whereas regulatory investigations are conducted for the determination of penal liability. Footnote3 Therefore, investigating is a process within the regulatory activity and the Investigating GVT should be used in conjunction with the Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement GVT for institutions that regulate. Footnote4 As such, compliance, including promotion, inspection, and measures to compel compliance are addressed by the Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement GVT , while the Investigating GVT should be used for any investigations performed by institutions that regulate. Other responses to non-compliance, such as inspections or sanctions, are addressed by the Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement GVT.

Business Processes

The business processes and information resources of business value were identified based on a thorough review of secondary literature, as well as an examination of relevant legislation and policies from GC institutions that perform investigations.

The investigating activity consists of four sub-activities, with a number of associated business processes.

1. Preliminary Reviewing:

This sub-activity involves an initial review to determine if a complaint or issue is founded and whether an investigation should be launched. It begins when a complaint/occurrence notification is issued or a request is made to conduct an investigation. A preliminary review involves a high-level examination of the issue or complaint and usually results in a case assessment, which outlines the event/issue/complaint and determines whether an investigation will be launched. The process will end here if the review determines that an investigation is not warranted. 

2. Planning:

Once a preliminary review has been conducted and an institution decides to undertake an investigation, the next sub-activity involves developing and updating an investigation plan. The plan sets the parameters of the investigation and helps to keep investigators on track as the investigation progresses. Many investigators use the investigation plan as a roadmap from which to guide their work. Footnote5 As such, the plan will often be revisited throughout the investigation and will be updated to reflect any necessary changes. Investigators often use the plan as a basis for preparing final reports. Any planning or policy documents created by an institution to deal with investigations as a whole are addressed in the Management and Oversight GVT.

3. Researching:

The majority of time spent on an investigation is devoted to research. This sub-activity includes obtaining warrants, conducting surveillance, gathering evidence Footnote6, conducting interviews, and liaising with scientific, technical, or legal experts and outside organizations to gather all pertinent factual information about the issue being investigated.

4. Reporting:

Once the research has been compiled, investigators assemble findings into a final report or recommendation. Often institutions issue an interim report, which is sent to all relevant parties for comment before a final report is drafted. The final investigation report summarizes the complaint or issue, outlines the evidence gathered, and provides a conclusion based on the findings. Depending on the investigation, reports may include recommendations on how a particular incident transpired, what parties were responsible, how to prevent such an incident from recurring, or how to resolve a particular dispute. Depending on the nature of the investigation, the final reports may be made public, or confidentiality and privacy considerations may limit the distribution of the findings. Final investigation reports are distributed to all relevant parties, and are often published and/or posted to institutional websites. Some institutions are required to report to parent departments or directly to Parliament. Footnote7

Retention

Recommended retention specifications in GVTs are determined based on traditional or best practices, a review of government-wide legislation and policy, and validation with subject matter experts. Retention periods are suggestions only; departments must take into account their own legislative requirements and business needs.

There are no GC-wide pieces of legislation or regulations that govern the retention of information resources associated with the Investigating activity.

Business Value and Retention Recommendations

1. Preliminary Review

Business Processes Recommendations: Information Resources of Business Value (IRBVs) Recommendations: Retention Period

Receive complaint

Complaint/request/occurrence notification (e.g. letter, email)

Acknowledgement letter to complainant

10 years after case closed if investigation does not proceed;

25 years after case closed if investigation goes forward

Notify subject

Correspondence with subject

10 years after case closed if investigation does not proceed;

25 years after case closed if investigation goes forward

Determine validity of complaint

Case assessment

Case file Footnote8

10 years after case closed if investigation does not proceed;

25 years after case closed if investigation goes forward

Make decision whether or not to investigate

Record of decision

10 years after case closed if investigation does not proceed;

25 years after case closed if investigation goes forward

Inform complainant, subject, other institutions or companies as required
Inform media if necessary

Correspondence

Preliminary safety advisories

10 years after case closed if investigation does not proceed;

25 years after case closed if investigation goes forward

2. Planning

Business Processes Recommendations: Information Resources of Business Value (IRBVs) Recommendations: Retention Period

Assign investigators

No information resources of business value (IRBV) are created in this process

 Not applicable

Plan investigation

Investigation plan Footnote9

Evidence collection system

Investigators’ notebooks

25 years after case closed

Acquire necessary tools of authority

Correspondence to obtain authorities

Warrants (to enter property, seize and detain property, examine and obtain documents

Production orders

 

25 years after case closed

Liaise with other departments or authorities as necessary

Discussion logs

Correspondence

25 years after case closed

3. Researching

Business Processes Recommendations: Information Resources of Business Value (IRBVs) Recommendations: Retention Period

Review supporting documentation

No IRBV are created in this process

Not applicable

Liaise with other departments or authorities as necessary

Discussion logs

Correspondence

25 years after case closed

Conduct interviews

Interview questions

Transcripts and recordings

Interview notes

Interview summaries

Signed affidavits

25 years after case closed

Gather evidence:

Conduct scientific experiments and analysis

Conduct simulations and reconstructions

Conduct surveillance activities

Conduct search and seizure

Evidence Footnote10

Assessments and reports from subject-matter experts

25 years after case closed

4. Reporting

Business Processes Recommendations: Information Resources of Business Value (IRBVs) Recommendations: Retention Period

Create interim report(s)

Interim report(s) Footnote11

25 years after case closed

Solicit comments from complainant and subject

Integrate comments

Correspondence with complainant and subject

Comments from complainant and subject

25 years after case closed

Report findings

Final report

Findings and/or recommendations

Synopsis

25 years after case closed

Communicate findings:

to complainant and subject

through website

through published materials

to Parliament

Correspondence (for publication and/or to recipients)

25 years after case closed

Transfer investigation to different authority (alternative dispute resolution, court, hearing, tribunal)

Notices and correspondence

Referral

25 years after case closed

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