Archives of Personal Papers ex libris Ludwig Benner, Jr.
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by Ludwig Benner, Jr., 12101 Toreador Lane, Oakton, VA 22124-2217


Revised through 3 May 1997


This project was an experiment to determine if it might feasible to use the Internet to perform investigation process research. This approach modifies traditional research task design; task staffing; task management; project communications; project data acquisition, ordering and analysis; report development; and dissemination of findings. The topic chosen for this experiment is one to which every person who has ever conducted any kind of investigation can probably contribute original data to enlarge the knowledge base.

Anyone who makes any contribution to this project will be credited with participation in the final report.

If you to participate in this experiment, you are invited to review the following material. If interested, send me an e-mail expressing your interest and data inputs. If you know of others who might be interested in providing inputs, forward their name and address via email.

As I get your inputs, I will revise the document at least monthly if inputs warrant it. Your name and comments will be posted in a special section of the Investigation Research Roundtable. The direct access URL will be provided to any contributors.

Project Objectives:

To identify the knowledge and skill requirements for different kinds of investigations, and prepare a summary of those requirements for use by investigation process designers, managers, trainers, students, practicing investigators, authors, and potentially, by legislators and investigation certification organizations..

Project tasks

  1. 1. Set up a communications hub for processing inputs, communications and documents, and project schedules.
  2. 2. Prepare the initial documentation containing the results of work to date on the project.
  3. 3. Identify kinds of investigations and develop categories of investigations that can be used to define the knowledge and skills required to perform each category of investigation.
  4. 4. Add inputs to existing data, organize the data and redistribute it to participants.
  5. 5. Circulate a draft document to contributors for comments
  6. 6. Publish a report of the project and findings in appropriate journals.
  7. 7. Arrange with contributors to present papers about project at appropriate conferences and symposia.

Project information flows

Information flows will be out of and into a URL on the Internet, using e-mail messages and attached files, if necessary, to pass data back and forth among contributors. A limited mailing list with all contributors will be disseminated as additional contributors are added. It is intended that any inputs will be disseminated among all contributors, and that both complementary and critical comments will be freely shared.

Aircraft Investigation Tasks

The purpose of this section is to identify and categorize the kinds of investigations that are conducted by air safety investigators, and the tasks associated with various kinds of investigations. Then the knowledge and skills needed to perform those tasks satisfactorily will be addressed.

The initial investigation types I have identified and defined during my research thus far are listed below. The types are categorized by the nature of the outputs, investigation purpose, the scope of the incident process addressed, the investigation tasks' complexity and rigor, and the attributes of the investigation staff.. (Alternative or additional criteria would be welcomed.)

     Level:    Investigation project type
1.    Produce completed forms created by others
2.    Produce sequenced description of what happened
3.    Produce description with explanation of what happened
4.    Produce description with explanation of what happened,
       and recommended actions to improve future performance
5.    Produce Level 3 or 4 outputs with investigation teams
6    Produce Level 3 or 4 investigations with international investigation teams
7    Produce litigation support investigation
8    Produce investigation research investigation
9    Magisterial investigations

Investigation task summaries.

The following describes in general terms the initial investigation tasks thought to be required for each type of investigation, and offers an indication of how success is measured.

Level 1. Produce completed forms created by others This type of investigation has as its goal the filling in of a report with data specified by the report author or developers. The data called for by the form reflects the form designers' perceptions of the data needed for further analyses. Most often the data provided is used for statistical analyses of trends, relationships, rankings or similar compilations from a statistically sufficient number of reports. Usually, the data are gathered and forms prepared by a single investigator assigned the case.

The investigator's tasks are to understand the specifications for the data to fill the blanks, identify where those data can be found, go to the data sources, observed the data the sources can provide, interpret and transform the observations into entries for each of the blanks on the forms, and then fill in the blanks. The investigator must go to and make observations at an accident or incident site, or wherever the people or remnant objects may be found. When a form has a blank to be filled in with a narrative describing the accident or incident, the investigator must prepare and enter the scenario describing what happened in the blank space. Frequently the investigator must make judgmental decisions about the entries, based on conclusions drawn from the observations.

Success is measured by the degree of satisfaction expressed by the forms' users or designers, and the consistency of the data from one form to the other provided by an investigator. Level 2. Produce sequenced description of what happened.

This type of investigation involves an informal examination of “what happened” usually by a single investigator. The objective is to produce an oral or written description of the “chain of events” or scenario describing who did what, in the sequence in which they did it. The tasks generally include identifying sources of data about who or what did what and in what sequence, determining where data might be found, going to the sources and making observations. The next task is to transform the observed data into a description of who did what - actions by people or objects that produced the outcome, and then ordering the actions identified to assemble them into a logical sequence. Often the investigator will also be tasked to state the “cause” of the accident or incident.

Success is measured by the degree to which recipients of the description can follow what happened, their questions about what happened are satisfied, and their perceived ability to identify something to do to prevent similar future occurrences. Over time, an investigator's tasks include anticipating the likely questions that will be raised by the output recipient(s) and trying to develop answers with supporting rationale before submitting the final work product.

Level 3 Produce description with explanation of what happened. This type of investigation is more demanding than the Level 2, in that tasks require more rigor and less speculation or judgment calls to produce convincing work products. Tasks required depend on the nature of the explanation required. If the explanation is in the form of one or more “causes” task requirements to develop a scenario are similar to Level 2, but the scenario reported must point to anything that is judged to be the cause or causes. Thus, after the actions constituting the scenario are sequenced, an additional task is to identify causes from the scenario.

If the explanation required is in a form of showing causal relationships among actions reported, the task includes application of logic tests to relationships among events to distinguish and show how each event caused the next event(s) in the scenario. Another task is to identify irrelevant events in the scenario, to winnow the essential events from the others identified during the investigation.

Typically, the scope of the task of describing what happened is broader than Levels 1 or 2, in that more remote influences on actions by people or objects before or during are considered, and the losses produced are also examined.

Success is measured by the degree of controversy evoked by the description and explanation. The better the explanation, the less the controversy. Parties involved in or affected by the occurrence have differing interests in the outcome, and tend to do what it takes to protect those interests, including the raising of doubts about the instigators explanation, so another task is to prepare for such attacks with some kind of quality assurance task...

Level 4. Produce description with explanation of what happened, and recommended actions to improve future performance This Level is more demanding that lower levels, in that the addition of recommended actions add to the potential for challenging the investigators' work products. Thus the tasks require even more rigor to ensure that the description and explanation of what happened fully support any proposed actions. Additional tasks involved in this level include the discovery, definition and evaluation of problems or needs disclosed by the occurrence, the identification, definition, evaluation and selection of the best proposed actions to improve future performance, and the development of a procedure to track the success of the actions in achieving predicted performance improvement(s). At this level, investigation tasks include quality assurance tasks, for both the conduct of the investigation and the work products it produces.

It should be noted that the tasks required to develop the description and explanation of what happened are retrospective and involve the development and use of historical data. The demand to produce recommendations imposes predictive tasks on the investigator, in that the investigator must predict future events in evaluating needs and proposed actions, as well as the performance tracking.

Success should be measured ultimately by the degree to which the definition of the problems or needs is accepted, by the validity of the recommendations is accepted, by the demonstrated improvement in the performance achieved by the recommendations actually implemented, and the efficiency with which the tasks are performed.

Level 5. Produce Level 3 or 4 outputs with investigation teams. Team investigations involved project management tasks in additional to the investigation tasks described thus far. They require whoever is in charge of the investigation to plan, organize, staff, direct and control all the investigation tasks performed, so they produce the quality of outputs demanded of the team, on time and within budget. Planning tasks include the selection of the objectives, scope, methodology, schedules, deliverable specifications, and quality assurance specifications. Organization tasks include the divisions of labor and tasks designs required to perform the investigation tasks to meet the planning needs. Staffing tasks include selection of qualified personnel, their training or indoctrination, and the funding of their time. Direction tasks include the day to day task assignments to each team member, and the progressive integration of their findings as the investigation proceeds. The control tasks require tracking work of others to ensure that planned task objectives and outputs are achieved and produced on time and on budget, to a satisfactory quality level.

Success is measured by the timeliness, quality, efficacy, efficiency, timeliness and consistency of the work products produced by the Team.

Level 6. Produce Level 3 or 4 investigations with international investigation teams International team investigations add special tasks to Level 6 Team investigations. The tasks may involve serving on a team formed by another nation, or directing or serving on a US team with foreign nationals representing their interests in the people or objects involved. Added tasks include preparations for functioning on a team operating in a foreign nation, to ensure national laws or regulations, unique protocols or procedures. or national customs or sensibilities are not transgressed. Another task is the planning and execution of international travel arrangements, including credentials, passports, accommodations, interpreters, communications during on site and subsequent exchanges, among other items.

Success is measured by the degree of harmony achieved during the field investigation and during the development of the findings and the report preparation, and by the results achieved.

Level 7. Litigation support investigation This type of investigation differs from the others in that litigators need investigation inputs to support the case they are presenting. The investigator's task is to develop forensic evidence on which to base opinions about what happened. Another task is to help rebut arguments made by the other side. Thus the task is similar to Level 3 investigation tasks, with the added task of helping to integrate the investigation findings into the case and testimony.

Success is measured by the ability of the investigator's work to withstand cross examination without having to acknowledge error or significant uncertainty.

Level 8. Investigation research investigation This is the most sophisticated type of investigation, in that the investigator must observe both the tasks performed by investigators during the investigation process and the progress of the investigation concurrently. The investigation research investigator must observe what the incident investigators do and why they do what they did. Concurrently, the investigator must track what the people or objects involved in the incident did and why they did it, as the data are developed by the investigator. The research investigator must do the Level 3 or 4 tasks for the investigation and also track what happened and why during the incident.

Level 9. Magisterial investigations. This is a special type of investigation, usually conducted under the direction of a noted jurist or prominent official, conducted under the rules of procedure of the nation in which it occurs. These requirements and the subsequent tasks vary widely. This type has not yet been studied thus far.

Table 1.

This table begins to list the task required for each of the eight types of investigation. When this task list has been completed, the task knowledge and skill requirements will be attached to each task. The tasks need to be defined because it is anticipated that some tasks may require similar knowledge or skills. This will likely require numerous iterations as the task list and K/S needs are developed.

Task inputs in the form of new tasks to add to the list, or restatements of the tasks listed are invited. For modifications, it will help me if you list the task number and indicate to which type of investigation (1 thru 9) it is applicable.

Send e-mail to me at luben at I will post changes in batches. View Table 1