Questions for supervisors about employee whistleblowers

  1. What is the university's Whistleblower Policy?
  2. Who is a "whistleblower"?
  3. Who can blow the whistle?
  4. Why did the university develop this policy?
  5. On what kinds of "improper governmental activities" can I blow the whistle?
  6. Who oversees this policy?
  7. What is my role as a supervisor under the Whistleblower Policy?
  8. What do I do if an employee comes to me with a situation that may possibly be a whistleblower matter-but I'm not sure if it is?
  9. What do I do if an employee comes to me with what I am certain is a whistleblower matter?
  10. How do I document the oral report — what information do I include? Is it considered a public record?
  11. Once I receive a whistleblower report, what is the next step?
  12. How do I decide if the matter should be referred to my supervisor, an appropriate manager and/or the Locally Designated Official or if I should handle the matter myself?
  13. Can I investigate allegations myself?
  14. What do I do if a whistleblower reports an activity and wants to remain anonymous?
  15. The Whistleblower Policy is long and detailed and I want to properly file a whistleblower report. Where do I go for help?

1. What is the university's Whistleblower Policy?

UC's Whistleblower Policy (pdf) encourages employees to use the guidance provided in the policy to "blow the whistle" on "improper governmental activities," and provides a procedure for filing and addressing whistleblower complaints.

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2. Who is a "whistleblower"?

A whistleblower is someone who discloses or tries to disclose information that may show a violation of law, economic waste, gross misconduct, gross incompetence, or gross inefficiency.

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3. Who can blow the whistle?

Employees (academic and staff), applicants for employment, students, patients, vendors, contractors, and the general public can blow the whistle.

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4. Why did the university develop this policy?

As a public institution, the university has a responsibility to the public, the legislature, students, faculty, staff and donors to conduct its affairs ethically and in compliance with laws and regulations. Part of how UC demonstrates accountability for its conduct is having in place a mechanism for people to let the university know if they become aware of concerns about how UC business is conducted.

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5. On what kinds of "improper governmental activities" can I blow the whistle?

You can blow the whistle on the commission of unlawful acts such as corruption, bribery, theft or misuse of university property, fraudulent claims, fraud, coercion, willful omission to perform duty; or economic waste; or gross misconduct, gross incompetence or gross inefficiency; or any condition that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public. (An "improper governmental activity" has to directly involve the university as either the victim of the improper activity or the perpetrator of the improper activity via the action of an employee.)

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6. Who oversees this policy?

The Senior Vice President-Business and Finance oversees the Whistleblower Policy.

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7. What is my role as a supervisor under the Whistleblower Policy?

You are one of the individuals who may receive whistleblower complaints from your immediate staff or other employees.

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8. What do I do if an employee comes to me with a situation that may possibly be a whistleblower matter, but I'm not sure if it is?

Discuss the matter either with your supervisor, an appropriate university manager, or the Locally Designated Official (the person who has whistleblower responsibilities at your location). You are encouraged to consult with these individuals, and when in doubt about a matter, you should report it to your immediate supervisor, the Locally Designated Official, Internal Audit, or other appropriate party who has responsibility for the matter.

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9. What do I do if an employee comes to me with what I am certain is a whistleblower matter?

You should encourage the employee to write up the concerns and include all relevant information, such as the facts that led the employee to believe an improper governmental activity had occurred. If the employee does not want to put it in writing, you should document the oral report with a written transcription.

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10. How do I document the oral report — what information do I include? Is it considered a public record?

Include the facts that led the whistleblower to believe an improper governmental activity had occurred. Don't speculate or draw conclusions. Include as much specific information as possible to allow for proper assessment of the nature, extent, and urgency of preliminary investigative procedures. Your documentation likely will not be considered a public record until the matter has been resolved, either by investigation or determination that no investigation is warranted.

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11. Once I receive a whistleblower report, what is the next step?

You should determine if you can review and dispose of the matter or if it needs to be referred to your supervisor, an appropriate manager and/or the Locally Designated Official.

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12. How do I decide if the matter should be referred to my supervisor, an appropriate manager and/or the Locally Designated Official or if I should handle the matter myself?

If you think an improper governmental activity is being alleged, the matter should be referred for investigation. If the matter is not an improper governmental activity, it might require management review or other appropriate disposition. If you have any questions about whether or not the matter should be referred, you should call your Human Resources, Academic Personnel or Internal Audit Office, or your Locally Designated Official. However, the matter must be reported to the Locally Designated Official when any of the following conditions are met:

  • The matter is the result of a significant internal control or policy deficiency that is likely to exist in other units within the institution or across the university system
  • The matter is likely to receive media or other public attention
  • The matter involves the misuse of university resources or creates exposure to a liability in potentially significant amounts
  • The matter involves allegations or events that have a significant possibility of being the result of a criminal activity (such as disappearance of cash)
  • The matter involves a significant threat to the health and safety of employees and/or members of the public
  • The matter is judged to be significant or sensitive for other reasons

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13. Can I investigate allegations myself?

No, leave that to the investigators. Your responsibility is to exercise appropriate judgment in determining which matters should be referred to a higher level of management and/or the Locally Designated Official and which matters you can review and dispose of. If you have any doubt about whether or not the matter should be disclosed, you should err on the side of disclosure and consult your Human Resources, Academic Personnel or Internal Audit Office, or your Locally Designated Official.

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14. What do I do if a whistleblower reports an activity and wants to remain anonymous?

If the whistleblower wants to remain anonymous, he or she can call the local whistleblower hotline, the Locally Designated Official or Internal Audit Office can be contacted to find out if a hotline exists at your location). The whistle-blower can also call the State Auditor's hotline. However, the whistleblower should be assured that the intent of the Whistleblower Policy is to keep his or her identity confidential, and that his or her confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible within the limitations of law and policy and the need to conduct a competent investigation.

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15. The Whistleblower Policy is long and detailed and I want to properly file a whistleblower report. Where do I go for help?

Consult the Locally Designated Official, your supervisor or other appropriate supervisor or administrator, the Internal Audit Office, or the Academic Personnel or Human Resources Office.

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