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Investigation: formal or systematic inquiry, examination and research

Accounting and Operations Investigations


Cunningham Consulting brings investigative and problem solving skills to resolve challenging business problems.  Cunningham investigates and facilitates correction of operational, financial and accounting issues and questions that do not involve litigation. 

  • Contracts – evaluation of contract compliance, performance, penalties, cost overruns, quality and benefits and financial and accounting questions

  • Fraud – suspected asset misappropriation, kickbacks, skimming, ghost employees, billing impropriety, financial manipulation and misrepresentation.  Perform fraud risk and controls assessments, establish tip lines and other monitoring functions.  Fraud investigations can transition to forensic engagements when civil or criminal lawsuits are contemplated.

  • Tax, Compliance and Criminal - research and evaluate tax and other compliance questions, including criminal questions working as an attorney's consultant or Kovel accountant within attorney /client priviledge

  • Projects – evaluation and recommendations concerning under performing projects, cost over runs, quality issues, late completions, missed milestones, misaligned governance, expectations, planning, resourcing and other root causes.

  • Operation – assessment and recommendations concerning operational issues related to projects, physical assets, procurement, sales, fulfillment, manufacturing, and development functions.   Working capital issues, inventory turn issues, job borrow, cost structure and other business performance issues.

  • Due Diligence - assessment and evaluation of assets, customers, operations, systems, financial condition or other assertions, often related to an acquisition


Representative Investigation Engagements

RETAIL STORE CONSTRUCTION DELAYS AND COST OVER-RUNS – Consulted with the in-house construction management department of a major US retailer operating over 5,000 locations and performing several hundred remodels and new store builds per year. Projects often experienced delays and cost over-runs.  Investigation revealed root cause due to inadequate procedures and controls for adopting standard store format updates.  Redesigned the change management process to clarify stage-gate procedures for propagating revisions to store standard formats into the portfolio of active and planned construction projects. Reduced the number of project change orders and related costs incurred in the construction portfolio, avoiding over $10M per year in direct construction costs.  In addition, enterprise revenue was improved by shortening the duration of store closures for renovation and re-merchandising.

​COLD CHAIN FEASIBILITY STUDY - Conducted a feasibility study for a major refrigeration equipment manufacturer to assess opportunity to improve and ensure farm to table handling of frozen and refrigerated food products.  Assessment evaluated refrigerated warehouse and retail store infrastructure as well as mobile shipping and trucking operations and revealed refrigeration control gaps at the transfer of product between stationary and mobile refrigeration systems.

PROCUREMENT AND WORKING CAPITAL REDUCTION STUDY – Developed and led an initiative sponsored by the client’s CFO that identified and validated several hundred million dollars of NPV benefits in procurement (direct and indirect spend) and working capital reduction. Benefits identified were signed off by line managers and enabled by improved vendor management, logistics and inventory optimization procedures of a leading aerospace and defense manufacturer.

SUPERMARKET HOAR FROST EVALUATION – Led a study team of supermarket store managers, HVAC specialists, freezer case vendors, architect/engineers and corporate managers to diagnose and resolve persistent issues of excessive summertime hoar frost build up in freezer cases and gondolas.  The solution involved a combination of store personnel training, compliance with defrosting procedures and adjustments to HVAC temperature and air circulation settings.

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