Smaller government agency HR departments that don’t frequently conduct workplace investigations will often hire an experienced outside investigator when the need arises, to ensure that the investigation is handled professionally and fairly.  However, even agencies with experienced HR investigators on staff will hire external investigators in certain scenarios.  Although this can add costs, it can save far more in the long run if you find yourself in one of these three scenarios:

The Allegations Are Criminal in Nature

If an employee is being investigated for serious wrongdoing that may be prosecuted if proven, it probably makes sense to hire an external investigator who is also a lawyer.  Employees are likely to retain counsel in these situations, and they’ll be examining every step taken by the agency to cast doubt on the facts.  If a trial uncovers a mistake that was made in the investigation and the employee is found not guilty, the agency may be subject to lawsuits for damages.

The Employee Is on the Agency’s Executive Team

In cases where a senior executive is under investigation, an external investigator may be the safest way to maintain impartiality and provide confidence to taxpayers and elected officials that the findings are accurate.  Due to the sensitivity of the case, it’s likely that an internally-run investigation would be handled by a senior-level HR executive – and this person is likely to be working with the person under investigation on HR initiatives.  High-level investigations are also higher stakes because they are more likely to lead to post-investigation litigation.

There Are Major Media Implications

When dealing with investigations of activities that are likely to reflect badly on the government agency, there are two reasons to hire an external investigator.  First, having less information flowing through internal channels reduces the likelihood of leaks while the investigation is in-process.  Second, seasoned workplace investigation firms may be more prepared to assist with crisis management if the investigation does eventually lead to public disclosure.

To learn about how CMTS:HR software can help your team manage workplace investigations more effectively, call us at 855-636-5361 or email us at