New hotline to field staff concerns

By Chris Ross

The U of C administration started a whistleblower hotline recently for employees to report concerns about compliance with laws and University policies.

“No particular, single event precipitated the institution of the hotline,” said Glenn Klinksiek, assistant vice president for Risk Management, Audit and Safety in an interview. “There have always been avenues to report concerns.”

Klinksiek cited practices of peer institutions and the University’s desire to provide multiple avenues to report concerns as reasons for the recent institution of the hotline.

Scandals in corporate America—including the Enron and WorldCom cases—also inspired the decision to institute the whistleblower hotline, Klinksiek said.

University employees were notified of the new whistleblower policy in an e-mail sent by Donald Reaves, vice president for administration and chief financial officer of the University.

“Use of secure complaint mechanisms such as hotlines is encouraged by federal regulation,” Reaves noted in the e-mail.

Reaves also encouraged employees to use normal lines of communication to report concerns.

Network Inc., the third-party hotline provider, is a technology-based company designed to help institutions collect information and address issues such as risk management and ethics.

According to the Network Inc. website, over 45 percent of Fortune 500 companies use the company’s services, including Merck, Apple Computer, and Capital One. Other educational institutions subscribing to Network’s services include Yale University and the University of California system.

Employees can use the hotline 24 hours a day and 365 days a year to report non-compliance with laws, rules, regulations, and policies or misappropriation of University assets or fraud.

Non compliance-related issues, including complaints concerning wages, raises, or work hours, should be brought up with a supervisor and not reported through the hotline, Reaves said in the e-mail.

A University website explaining the process for addressing inappropriate activities on campus displays the hotline as the last and most serious line of action. Employees are advised to first review applicable policies, seek departmental help, contact their organizational executive, and contact their institutional resource.

Callers will speak to trained professionals who will collect information and investigate the case. A report will be provided to Internal Audit and Legal Counsel within one business day of a call.

“People might be reluctant to come forward with issues,” Klinksiek said. “If this hotline might provide some comfort, then we’re all better off for it.”