UC ANR Whistleblower Reports & Complaints
The scope of information on this page is NOT intended to be a substitute for the statutory definitions of “Improper Governmental Activities,” “Whistleblower,” “Whistleblower Retaliation Protection,” and /or “Protected Disclosures” found in Government Code Section 8547- 8547.12. That policy is located on the University’s Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services webpage: http://ucop.edu/ethics-compliance-audit-services/. The purpose of this page is to encourage communication within University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources about any serious or substantial violations of University policy and/or any activity that appears to be unethical, unsafe or illegal.
The University of California’s (UC) Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) provides several straightforward and uncomplicated ways by which UC ANR employees can anonymously and confidentially * communicate issues, concerns and questions regarding activities that appears to be unethical, illegal or threatens anyone’s health or safety of UC employees.
Whistleblower policies are designed to:
- Encourage timely, safe, and honest reporting of alleged wrong doing
- Ensure consistent and timely response by UC
- Create a culture consistent with UC ‘s statement of ethical values and standards of ethical conduct
- Form an environment in which suspected improprieties are brought forward without fear of retaliation
“Relatively few fraud and abuse offenses are discovered through routine audits. Most fraud is uncovered as a result of tips and complaints from other employees.”
Source: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, 1996
Who is a Whistleblower?
A “Whistleblower” is a person or entity that reports (e.g., makes a “protected disclosure” of) an activity they observe that appears to be unethical or illegal, threatens anyone’s health or safety of UC employees. Whistleblowers may be University employees (academic or staff), applicants for employment, students, patients, vendors, contractors or the general public. The whistleblower’s role is as a reporting party. They are not investigators or finders of fact, nor do they determine the appropriate corrective or remedial action that may be warranted.
What is a protected disclosure?
A protected disclosure is any good faith communication that reports or demonstrates a good-faith intention to report information that may uncover an improper act or any condition that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public. Protected disclosures are made with the intent that UC may stop or correct the unethical or illegal activity. UC will “protect” (keep secret) the identity of anyone who makes such a report to the greatest extent possible within the limitations of UC policy and State and Federal law. As long as the disclosure is made in good-faith, UC extends this protection even if, after investigation, the activity reported is determined not to be unethical or illegal.
What is an Improper Governmental Activity (IGA)?
An Improper Governmental Activity (IGA) is an activity that is in violation of federal, state and local laws and regulations. IGAs must directly involve UC as either the victim of the IGA or the perpetrator of the IGA, and must be the result of an action of a UC employee. Examples of IGAs include (but are not limited to) the following.
- Gross misconduct, gross incompetence, or gross inefficiency
- Economic waste
- Misuse and/or theft of public property or time
- Fraudulent (false) claims
- Fraud, bribery, sexual harassment, scientific misconduct
- Improper use or abuse of authority
- Anything that threatens the health or safety of UC employees or of the general public
- Anything that is unequivocally illegal or completely wrongful
However, UC’s Ethics and Compliance program is ethics-based. This means that UC is committed to ethical behavior not only because the law requires it, but also because it is the right thing to do. For example, giving someone a promotion that is not based on performance, but rather because they are a friend is not illegal, but it is unethical. Likewise, lying to get a position reclassification is unethical, but not illegal.
If in doubt or it just doesn’t feel right, report it!
How do I report an allegation, concern or question an activity that appears to be unethical, unsafe or illegal?
A report of an IGA or of an unethical or illegal activity may be made verbally or in writing by contacting any of the following.
- The Whistleblower’s Supervisor
- The ANR Staff Personnel Unit – 530-750-1318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The ANR Academic Personnel Unit – 530-750-1250
- ANR’s Locally Designated Official (LDO) for Whistleblower Matters – 510-987-9052; fax 510-987-0998
- EthicsPoint Confidential Telephone Whistleblower Hotline – 800-403-4744
- EthicsPoint Confidential Whistleblower On-Line Hotline – universityofcalifornia.edu/hotline
Note: The telephone and web hotlines are not part of the UC system – they are independently operated by an outside agency (“EthicsPoint”) to ensure confidentiality.
- UC’s Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services Director of Investigations – 510-987-0480
- UC’s Chief Compliance and Audit Officer – 510-987-9090
- Any UC Administrator
Members of the ANR community are encouraged to make reports internally by contacting any of the above. However, IGAs may also be reported by contacting the California State Auditor – 800-952-5665; fax 916-322-2603.
What is “EthicsPoint”?
The EthicsPoint web application and telephone hotline tools allow members of the UC community to submit reports of IGAs and/or unethical or illegal activities anonymously, if desired. What’s more, EthicsPoint gives every such report an individual identifying number. Reporters are also given individual passwords. In this way, Reporters can return to the EthicsPoint website whenever they like to provide additional information, to and ask and answer questions from the investigator assigned, or just to follow up on the matter. All of this can be done completely anonymously and confidentially. Anyone can access EthicsPoint via the web at https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/23531/.
Once a UC ANR-related report that is submitted via EthicsPoint, an alert is sent to UC ANR’s Locally Designated Official (LDO) for Whistleblower matters. The UC ANR LDO then reviews the report and assigns one of a small group of UC ANR personnel trained in confidential fact-finding and Whistleblower investigations.
What should I say when I make a report?
Reporters should provide as much specific, factual information as they possibly can. They should provide as much detail about the circumstances of the improper, unethical or illegal activity as possible. This would include, but would not be limited to, things like the date(s) and time(s) of the activity(ies), where it took place, etc. As well, it’s important to report only what you know. Don’t investigate—leave that to the experts.
Do I have to give my name if I make report?
No. Providing your name is not required. However, if you do so, UC will hold your identity in confidence to the greatest extent possible within the limitations of UC policy and State and Federal law.
What is “retaliation”?
“Retaliation” is all conduct that would “dissuade a reasonable worker” from reporting an IGA, including but not limited to the following.
- Intimidation, threats, or coercion
- An adverse employment action such as a discharge (being fired), demotion reduction in pay and/or benefits, change in responsibilities, change in post of duty (office), denial of leave and/or vacation requests, and negative performance evaluations
Are UC Whistleblowers protected from retaliation?
A University employee may not retaliate against an employee or applicant for employment who has made a protected disclosure. It is the intention of the University to take whatever action may be needed to prevent and correct activities that violate this policy. If you feel you have been retaliated against for reporting an improper governmental activity, you should report this immediately to your Human Resources or Academic Personnel Office, your Locally Designated Official, or your supervisor.
How do I report an act of retaliation?
Any UC Whistleblower that feels they have been retaliated against should report this immediately. Contact any of the sources shown in the above item entitled “How do I report an IGA, or an unethical or illegal activity?”
If I make a report, will I be told the outcome?
Not necessarily. Some matters are personal, private and/or extremely sensitive, so UC may not be able to release the outcome, recommendation or resolution. In particular, UC cannot release the outcome if doing so would violate the California Information Practices Act. All Reporters should be assured, however, that every report submitted to UC is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. Not to do so would, in and of itself, be an Improper Governmental Activity (IGA).
Where can I read the Universities Whistleblower and Whistleblower Protection policies?
Where can I get more information?
Additional information and FAQs are available on the UC’s Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services webpage athttp://ucop.edu/ethics-compliance-audit-services/.