Questions about being a whistleblower

  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. What should I do if I want to blow the whistle-how do I do it and to whom do I go?
  7. Will my whistleblower report be held in confidence?
  8. What if I don't want anyone to know I blew the whistle?
  9. What information should I provide when I make my disclosure?
  10. Since there are several places to make a report, how do I choose which one to use?
  11. What if I don't feel comfortable making a report to anyone at my campus or location because I feel there are conflicts of interest?
  12. What if I don't want to report my allegations to the university, but do want to let someone know?
  13. Is there a deadline for filing a whistleblower report?
  14. What happens after I file my whistleblower report?
  15. Why might my allegations not be investigated?
  16. How can I help with the investigation?
  17. Will I be informed of the outcome of my report?
  18. Can I discuss the matter with friends and colleagues?
  19. 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. What should I do if I want to blow the whistle-how do I do it and to whom do I go?

You can blow the whistle by reporting your allegations orally or in writing to the Locally Designated Official (the person who has whistleblower coordination responsibilities at your location). You can also report your allegations to your supervisor or to some other appropriate administrator or supervisor. The supervisor or administrator will take appropriate action to resolve the problem or report the allegations to his or her supervisor, to the Locally Designated Official, or to the Internal Audit, Human Resources or Academic Personnel Office. You are encouraged to make your report in writing so that the issues are clear.

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7. Will my whistleblower report be held in confidence?

Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible within the limitations of law and policy and the legitimate needs of the investigation. Your identity will, of course, be known to UC personnel with a legitimate need to know in order to carry out an investigation. Release of your identity may be required pursuant to a subpoena or in other circumstances where the university is required by law to release information. In addition, you should also be aware that your public testimony might be needed to prove the case against the accused. If you self-disclose your identity, the university will no longer be obligated to maintain such confidence.

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8. What if I don't want anyone to know I blew the whistle?

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call the local whistleblower hotline. You can also call the State Auditor's hotline.

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9. What information should I provide when I make my disclosure?

You should state the facts with as much specific information as possible so that your allegations can be investigated, such as what occurred, who was involved, and dates of occurrence. You should not speculate or draw conclusions, and should be prepared to be questioned by the investigator.

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10. Since there are several places to make a report, how do I choose which one to use?

Make your report to someone with whom you feel comfortable and who can take action concerning your allegations.

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11. What if I don't feel comfortable making a report to anyone at my campus or location because I feel there are conflicts of interest?

Because of potential conflicts of interest in instances where the allegations involve the Locally Designated Official, the Locally Designated Official's supervisor, or the Chancellor, a report should be filed with the Senior Vice President-Business and Finance in the Office of the President.

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12. What if I don't want to report my allegations to the university, but do want to let someone know?

You are encouraged to report information to the appropriate university officials; however, you also have the option of reporting your allegations to the State Auditor in the Bureau of State Audits.

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13. Is there a deadline for filing a whistleblower report?

No, but it is important to file a report as soon as you have enough evidence to make a good faith report. If you delay, evidence becomes stale, hampering the investigation, and then the university may not be able to resolve the problem.

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14. What happens after I file my whistleblower report?

A preliminary investigation will be conducted and you may be contacted for an interview. The preliminary investigation will determine if a full investigation should be undertaken and by whom.

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15. Why might my allegations not be investigated?

Sometimes employees blow the whistle about things that aren't improper governmental activities, but are personnel, labor relations or management issues. Employees also sometimes report violations of university policy that aren't improper governmental activities, unless the violations constitute gross mismanagement or waste. The preliminary investigation assesses whether or not there appears to be an improper governmental activity. However, just because an investigation is not launched doesn't mean that the complaint won't be looked into. It might be referred to Human Resources or some other office for review rather than investigation.

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16. How can I help with the investigation?

You can provide as much factual information and evidence as possible in order to allow the investigation to proceed. However, don't obtain any evidence for which you do not have a right of access and don't do your own investigation-leave that to the experts! You should be prepared to be interviewed by the investigators and provide all the information you know about the allegations.

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17. Will I be informed of the outcome of my report?

You generally have the right to be informed of the disposition of your disclosure and the findings of any investigation, although there might be overriding legal or public interest reasons not to do so. However, any action taken against an employee as a consequence of the findings of the investigation may be personal and confidential, in which case, it cannot be disclosed.

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18. Can I discuss the matter with friends and colleagues?

If you self-disclose your identity, the university no longer will be obligated to maintain your confidentiality. To protect your confidentiality and the confidentiality of the investigation, it is advisable not to discuss the matter with friends and colleagues.

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19. 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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