Definitions and Red Flags

Whistleblower Program Definitions of Whistleblower Program Terms

The San Francisco Charter, Appendix F, Section F1.107, directs the Controller, as City Services Auditor, to administer a whistleblower program and investigate reports of complaints concerning the misuse of city funds, improper activities by city officers and employees, deficiencies in the quality and delivery of government services, and wasteful and inefficient city government practices.

Provided below are definitions and examples of key terms used in San Francisco Charter, Appendix F, Section F1.107.

Misuse of City Funds - Using city funds for a purpose not authorized under the city's budget, or through the Controller's accounting procedures, or by the terms of a contract or grant; obtaining city funds through false statements or other improper means.

  • Use of city funds to improperly benefit a private individual or private interest.
  • Use of city equipment, supplies, compensated staff time, or other resources for personal purposes.

Improper Activities by City Officers and Employees - Any activity by a city employee that is undertaken in the performance of the employee's official duties, whether or not that action is within the scope of his or her employment, that violates any law, regulation, or policy.

  • Misrepresentation, misstatement, or omission of data for the purpose of creating a false impression of an organization's efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Dishonest actions of city officers or employees or city contractors or grantees that cause the loss or misuse of city funds, or interfere with the effective and efficient delivery of government services.
  • Reimbursement of expenditures from city funds without documentation showing it was for an authorized purpose.

Deficiencies in the Quality and Delivery of Government Services - A fault, shortcoming, or inadequacy in the performance of a service, or the failure to perform a service, when performance is required under any law, regulation, or policy, or under a City contract or grant.

  • Nondelivery, or incomplete delivery, of contractually required goods.
  • Nonperformance, or inadequate performance, of contractually required services.

Wasteful and Inefficient City Government Practices - Practices that result in the needless expenditure of City funds, most often because of poor management decisions, practices or controls. Waste may, but does not always, involve private use or personal gain.

  • Purchase of unneeded supplies or equipment.
  • Failure to reuse or recycle major resources or reduce waste.


Red Flags of Unlawful and Unethical Activities

Downloadable and Printable Infographics


1. Bid Rigging 

2. Grant Misuse 

3. Hidden Interests

4. Mischaracterized Expenses

5. Split Purchasing

6. Supply Chain Fraud

7. Cash Skimming