Published: November 17, 2020
Imagine this scenario: A school district employee observes a co-worker taking the deposit home each night. The employee knows it’s a problem but struggles with how they might go about reporting it and how it might affect their job in the future. The employee is fearful of the backlash from the co-worker if it becomes known who shared the concern.
Or how about a payroll clerk told to process an unsupported payment to the general manager who is giving this direction? Where does an employee go when it’s the head of the organization that they have an issue with?
These employees are like many others – working front and center in daily operations and most likely to notice problems. These scenarios might raise red flags for theft, or policies or laws not being followed.
Employees often really struggle with how to handle these types of situations. It’s also unrealistic to assume employees will always feel comfortable going to their direct manager with concerns, especially when the issue might involve that manager. Sometimes employees need a way to report anonymously to feel comfortable sharing their concerns.
And it’s not just employees who make observations. Citizens, too, observe government workers daily. Consider the citizen who might observe a cashier who routinely doesn’t offer receipts to customers, or a citizen who lives next door to a public works employee who brings home rock in County-owned equipment.
As such, it’s important that local governments provide employees and citizens with a safe and trusted reporting process. Doing so helps you find out about issues and address them promptly, mitigating financial and other negative effects to your organization. In fact, a 2020 report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners shows that governments with hotlines detect frauds more quickly and have smaller frauds on average than those without them.
To help you get started, we have created a new resource. It discusses options and considerations for developing your own reporting process and related policies and procedures. It also provides links to some additional information that will help you.
If you would like to offer feedback about this resource, or talk with one of our financial management specialists, email us at Center@sao.wa.gov.