Whistleblower Hotline Report Released
Office of Erie County Comptroller investigated tips 67 for the first six months of the year
(Buffalo) – The Office of Erie County Comptroller received and investigated 67 tips on its confidential “Whistleblower Hotline” for the first six months of the year. Information was shared via email, telephone, or letter. Some of the tips to the “Whistleblower Hotline” resulted in positive changes to stop waste, fraud, and abuse within Erie County government. They include:
- Disciplinary action against a local authority employee for misuse of a taxpayer funded vehicle
- Stopped an inmate from making numerous collect calls to a taxpayer
- Collaboration with the Sheriff’s Department to ensure inmates are not receiving Social Service benefits they are not entitled to
- Twelve reports forwarded to the Department of Social Services for follow up investigation
All allegations regarding possible abuse were investigated and referred to the appropriate supervising agency or are pending further investigation. Of the 67 tips received by the “Whistleblower Hotline” between January 1st, 2013 and June 30th, 2013:
- 16 tips were closed
- 15 related to misconduct by a county employee and specific supervisors were notified
- 8 complaints of county employer misconduct
- 6 open submissions pending further investigation
The “Whistleblower Hotline” report for the six months of the year also offers recommendations on how to improve the manner in which information is received, processed, and investigated.
- Implement a formal policy from the Commissioner of Personnel to protect workers who become whistleblowers and how to report tips. When the “Whistleblower Hotline” was established in 2008 one recommendation was to create this policy to protect employees. To date one was not created.
- Combine county “Whistleblower Hotlines” or create a policy to ensure proper oversight of tips received outside the Office of Erie County Comptroller. Right now there are multiple entities asking for tips: Social Services, Sheriff, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Health. We know of no oversight, reporting, or follow-up of other tip-lines.
- Quarterly reports to the Erie County Legislature. The Office of Comptroller will issue reports two times per year pertaining to the “Whistleblower Hotline.”
- Stronger promotion of the “Whistleblower Hotline” utilizing technology through social media, mass emails to workers, and placement on the main page of the county website.
Anyone with information about potential cases of fraud, waste, and abuse can 716.858.7722. Emailed tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The “snail mail” address is “Whistleblower Hotline, Office of Erie County Comptroller, Rath Building Room 1100, 95 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York, 14202. Information can also be found at www.erie.gov/comptroller.