Category Archives: Data quality

Catching up, again, part 4

Hopefully, building on the last three posts9https://infogovnuggets.com/2019/01/04/catching-up-again/ , https://infogovnuggets.com/2019/01/04/catching-up-again-part-2/, and https://infogovnuggets.com/2019/01/04/catching-up-part-3/, this will close out 2018.

  1. Fake news

    “Journalist at Center of False-Reporting Scandal Faces New Allegations Over Donation Requests,” The Wall Street Journal, December 24, 2018.  The first paragraph says it all: “German magazine Der Spiegel said it would file a criminal complaint against a former star writer who admitted falsifying reports, after discovering that he also appeared to have set up a fake charity operation for Syrian children.”  One can only assume the paper had a policy about not making up stories, or not fleecing the readership.

  2.  Morally but not legally guilty.

    “JD.com Founder Faces Backlash at Home: ‘Behind the Law is Morality,’” The Wall Street Journal, December 24, 2018.  Even though released and after the closure of a three-month investigation into a rape allegation, the founder of a large ecommerce business in China is still getting hammered in the Chinese press (and, one might imagine, at home).  Is that Governance, or Compliance?  How does Compliance deal with an accusation that is not sustained?

  3. Libor was information, too

    “UBS to Pay $68 Million to Settle State Libor-Manipulation Claims,” The Wall Street Journal, December 24, 2018.  Goes back to the 2008 charges of mucking about the the benchmark London Interbank Offered Rate, used a lot in loans and such.  Two aspects here, first dealing with the use of a number derived from supposedly unbiased people to govern “your” deal, and, second, the cost of non-compliance, even if long-delayed.

  4. Which was it?

    “Maintenance Lapse Identified as Initial Problem Leading to Lion Air Crash,” The Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2018.  Maybe it was not improper or inadequate training; maybe it was improper maintenance.  Investigation into crash of Lion Air continues.  Highlights the difficulty of establishing the facts after the fact.  So much information.

  5. Why do you track the numbers if you don’t use them?

    “Psychiatric Hospitals With Safety Violations Still Get Accreditation,” The Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2018. What exactly does “accreditation” mean, if you can have a bunch of serious violations?  The failure rate is about 1%, and nearly all the inspections are by one company.  This is primarily an Information point, on the failure to make use of the available information, or the failure to make it available. And does the government exercise appropriate oversight/governance given the amount of federal funds involved?

  6. Resume errors

    “Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Incorrectly Claims Academic All-American Honors,” The Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2018.  The Acting AG apparently made this error consistently on his resume for years; he wasn’t an Academic All American; instead he was a District VII All District selection.  If he were genuinely confused about what he was awarded, this makes some sense.  But one would have thought that somewhere along the way this would have been discovered.  Is that Information or Governance?  If it were an employee at your company, what would be the sanction?

  7. Information vacuum

    “Commerce Department Won’t Publish Data During Shutdown,” The Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2018.  One wonders what the consequences will be of the absence of this data.  The article says, “Investors often depend on these reports to make trades, which affect stock values, bond yields and the value of the dollar. Businesses use them to make investment planning decisions. Federal Reserve officials depend on them to make interest-rate decisions that ripple through the economy.”  If you rely on a third party for key information, what do you do when you can’t get it?  What’s Plan B?

  8. Who owns the artwork?

    “‘Absolute Control’: Cuba Steps Up Artistic Censorship,” The Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2018.  Cuba severely restricts an artist’s ability to make money from his or her art.  Sure, this is Governance, but is art also Information?

  9. How does your doctor make referrals?  I want to know.

    “The Hidden System That Explains How Your Doctor Makes Referrals,” The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2018.  Apparently, there are processes in place that might influence your doctor’s judgment.  Would you want to know that?  Is there an ethical issue (Governance/Compliance) that surround this information and how it is used?  Is this conflict disclosed to you?  Adequately?  Do the insurers (who have money in the game) push back on this enough?

  10. Statements on Twitter aren’t facts?

    “Elon Musk Says Pedophile Accusation Against British Man Was Protected Speech,” The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2018.  Calling a cave diver rescuing boys in Thailand a pedophile is at the heart of the suit against Elon Musk.  Does Twitter have no rules with which one must comply, and no one to enforce those (non-)rules?  Or do we have systems of Compliance and Governance that punish libelous statements, broadly published, regardless of the media/medium?

  11. Ouch

    Wells Fargo to Pay States About $575 Million to Settle Customer Harm Claims,” The Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2018.  More fallout from the account cramming and related scandals.  Total payments so far: ~$4 billion.  Cost of compliance, or cost of poor governance.

 

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Catching up again, part 2

Continuing from https://infogovnuggets.com/2019/01/04/catching-up-again/

  1. Pot calling the kettle black

    “Comey Tells House Panel He Suspected Giuliani Was Leaking FBI Information to Media,” The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2018.  Former FBI Director Comey, who admitted to leaking information to a reporter through a law school professor, complains that someone else did it, too.

  2. Yes, we have no privacy

    “Thieves Can Now Nab Your Data in a Few Minutes for a Few Bucks,” The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2018.  Following the series of major hacks of privacy data (e.g., Marriott, LinkedIn, Equifax, and Yahoo), “Every American person should assume all of their data is out there,” said one FBI agent.  Comforting.

  3. Duty to report

    “New Report Shows Olympics Executives Concealed Knowledge of Nassar Allegations,” The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2018.  Executives knew information about sexual abuse allegations, and failed to report.  To whom did they breach a duty?

  4. Interesting intersection of the right to petition the government and your right to privacy

    “U.S. Investigating Fake Comments on ‘Net Neutrality,’” The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2018. “Earlier this year, the FCC said it would upgrade its website to try to prevent fakery. … Several federal agencies warn that it is a felony to send falsified comments to the federal government when posting on websites soliciting opinions on federal rulemaking.”  What if the comments were anonymous?

  5. Lying or overspending on your expense account can get you canned

    “Under Armour Ousts Two Executives After Review of Expenses,” The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2018. Complying with company policy and procedures is sort of kind of like a job requirement.  Even if you signed Jordan Spieth.  But how were they to know how much was too much?

  6. Weakest link?

    “Amazon, Amid Crackdown on Seller Scams, Fires Employees Over Data Leak,” The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2018.  Employees bribed for access to inside information.  What’s your information worth to you?  To the briber?  To the (former) employee?  Do you have a policy against taking bribes?

  7. Collateral impact

    “Nissan-Renault Scandal Shows It’s Hard to Keep Car Alliances On Track,” The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2018.  A scandal at your business partner can affect your company’s relationships.  Is that Governance?

  8. How do you deal with rumors?  Are they “information,” too?

    “Super Micro Finds No Malicious Hardware in Motherboards,” The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2018.  This contradicts a prior report from Bloomberg.  How do you govern other sources of information?  Is using a trusted third party to investigate just standard crisis management planning?

  9. Should Compliance be more congenial?

    “Banks Get Kinder, Gentler Treatment Under Trump,” The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2018.  Regulators are urged to be more collegial with the banks they regulate.  Is that better “Governance,” in the short term or in the long term?

  10. What does it say?

    “Renault Sticks With Carlos Ghosn as Internal Probe Finds No Illegality,” The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2018.  What does it say to the rank-and-file when the Chairman gets arrested?  And when he’s thereafter kept in place?  The Board may have some explaining to do.

  11. What can your employer do with your information?

    “U.S. Companies Asked to Disclose More About Their Workers,” The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2018.  Pension funds ask employers to disclose more information than the SEC currently requires.  Whose decision is that?  When and how can you object?

  12. Watch your contractors

    “Chinese Hackers Breach U.S. Navy Contractors,” The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2018.  What’s this information worth, both to the US and to China?  How much do you look at the security at your vendors who process or create information for you? Are  they a weaker link than your employees? (See item 6, above.)

  13. Information and Governance and Compliance

    “PG&E Falsified Gas Safety Records, California Claims,” The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2018.  From the explosion in San Bruno in 2010 (after which PG&E couldn’t find a bunch of inspection records relating to hundreds of miles of its pipelines) to more recent claims about fudging the records on pipeline locations, PG&E has had this problem for awhile.  For now, these are just allegations.  But what impact on every claim made against the company, and every claim made by it?  If they falsify safety records, do they falsify bills, too? “The [state regulator] last month expanded a continuing probe of PG&E’s safety practices and said it would explore the way the company is structured and managed.”  There seems to be a link between record-keeping and management and compliance and culture.

  14. Facebook, again

    “Facebook Bug Potentially Exposed Unshared Photos of Up 6.8 Million Users,” The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2018.  One almost gets the idea that protecting your privacy is not a high priority for them.

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Making a list and checking it twice

So, you have a baby coming.  You establish a baby registry online, and list the items/gifts you want to receive.  And then the host of the registry accepts payments from vendors of baby products to add certain items to “your” list.

Is nothing sacred?

“New Parents Complain Amazon Baby-Registry Ads Are Deceptive,” The Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2018 (online).  Amazon accepts money from major companies to put “sponsored ads” on your list; there’s a small gray box saying “Sponsored.”  Nothing descriptive like, “Similar to things the mother-to-be actually wants.”

I guess you have to check to make sure that you check “your” list at least twice, to make sure that Amazon hasn’t made it theirs.  No bait, just switch.

Where’s the FTC on this? Would you buy from a company that paid to advertise on someone else’s gift registry, without asking?  Are they a bit scummy?  These aren’t small-time companies; advertisers buying the ads include Kimberly-Clark and Johnson & Johnson.  To sell baby products!

Next thing, they’ll be posting billboards on your roof and on your car. Without so much as a by-your-leave.

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Those pesky Romulans!

You may not be old enough or nerdy enough to remember the Romulan cloaking device from the original Star Trek.  But I do/am.

“Fake Signals and Illegal Flags: How North Korea Uses Clandestine Shipping to Fund Regime,” The Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2018 (online). How do shipments still arrive in and leave from North Korea, notwithstanding the various sanctions on the regime there?  Apparently, it’s blue smoke and mirrors.

I raise this here for two reasons.  First, in the North Korean story this is a bunch of information being generated that is deliberately false, and the compliance types struggle to deal with it in order to enforce the applicable rules.  The enforcers use satellites and data analytics; the shippers use deception and semi-legal and illegal stratagems.

Second, what extremes might your employees go to to avoid being detected when they are doing something they know is wrong, and how well prepared are you to deal with it?  Do you have the proper controls and investigative procedures?  What should you look at to confirm that what you’re being told is true?

 

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What happens when the boss gets jailed?

This blog tends to mention cases where senior executives get (or don’t get) punished for their alleged misdeeds.  The spin is often that the seniors don’t get punished as hard as the worker bees.

But what happens when the CEO gets put in jail for his or her alleged misdeeds, which may have led to under-reporting in the company’s financials for the past five years?

“Carlos Ghosn’s Arrest Rocks Auto Empire,” The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2018 (online).  Nissan’s CEO jailed for allegedly under-reporting his earnings by several tens of millions of dollars.

How do you explain this to the worker bees?  What’s the culture at the top?  How did the Board not catch this?  Were there not controls in place?  Might the shareholders be a bit upset?

More a Governance and a Compliance issue, perhaps, although if one looks, one could find some information-related failures.

 

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Too much information?

“Boeing Withheld Data On Potential Hazards,” The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2018 A1.  Did Boeing fail to disclose potential problems with its new flight-control feature?  Was that a factor in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, killing 189 people?

Maybe this feature didn’t factor into the crash; we’ll have to wait for the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder.  But if you know something and don’t tell other people who would like to know — well, that’s bad.  Even if you didn’t want to confuse them by providing them too much information.  Was it better “marketing” to tell their customers that they wouldn’t need as much training?

How do you decide how much information to provide your customers?  Are there problems you don’t mention?  Why?

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The government does it better

In the macro sense, one of the bits of information that we own, manage, and hopefully control is who we are. How does the government control and manage this?

“Banks Find Solutions for ID Fraud at DMV,” The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2018 B10.  Banks may use DMV databases to verify your online identity, because how you have to establish your identity to get a driver’s license normally involves you appearing in person and providing supporting documents.

Key to the process at the DMV is the trained person who checks your supporting documents.  The banks want to leverage that person’s knowledge and experience, rather than relying on a bank manager to do it.

Where else in our lives do we rely on government employees rather than ourselves as a critical control?

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