Whistleblower Program Annual Report

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San Francisco, CA (September 8, 2020) — The Controller's Office has released its Annual Whistleblower Program Report covering July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. 

The City and County of San Francisco’s Whistleblower Program is administered by a team in the Controller’s Office that investigates complaints concerning:

  • Deficiencies in the quality and delivery of city government services.
  • Wasteful and inefficient city government practices.
  • Misuse of city government funds.
  • Improper activities by city government officers and employees.

The program is critical to helping combat waste, corruption, fraud, abuse, and violations of policies and regulations. And importantly, it has a real and consequential role as an entry point for citizen complaints to bring offenders to justice and recoup ill-gotten gains. 

 

Download the full report here.

 

Investigation Highlights

  • The Whistleblower Program received 99 new reports in Quarter 4, bringing the fiscal year 2019–20 total to 599 reports received.
  • The 99 reports received in Quarter 4 is the lowest quarterly total in this fiscal year and is 34 percent less than the number of reports received in the same quarter last fiscal year.
  • The Whistleblower Program has received more reports each year since fiscal year 2012–13.
  • The Whistleblower Program closed 585 reports in fiscal year 2019–20 and did so in an average of 64 days.
  • The program closed 464 (79 percent) of the 585 reports within 90 days of receipt.
  • Of the 585 reports closed, more than half (318, or 54 percent) reached closure after an investigation.
  • Of the 318 investigations closed, 106 (33 percent) resulted in a department taking a corrective or preventive action.

The Whistleblower Program substantiated a diverse and complex set of allegations, including those concerning an employee inappropriately installing a surveillance camera in the workplace, unreported secondary employment, misuse of work resources for personal purposes, falsification of time and attendance records, and management ignoring complaints about falsification of time and attendance records.

To continue to manage the sustained, high number of reports received, the program has a multidisciplinary Controller’s Office team, along with a coordinated referral and follow-up process with the City Attorney, District Attorney, Ethics Commission, and others with jurisdictional oversight, that collectively possesses the experience and expertise to address the diverse range of allegations received.

 

Public Integrity Tip Line

In response to the federal criminal charges filed against former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, which were made public on January 28, 2020, the Controller’s Office and City Attorney’s Office began a joint public corruption investigation and opened a Public Integrity Tip Line (Tip Line) on February 4th to gather information specific to the investigation. The Tip Line received seven tips from April 1st through June 30th. Also, the Controller’s Office, in cooperation with the City Attorney’s Office, instituted additional controls and reviews of Public Works contracts, purchase orders, and grants for red flags and process failures. On June 29th the Controller’s Office issued “Public Integrity Review: Preliminary Assessment of San Francisco Public Works Contracting.”

 

Fiscal Year 2019–20 Outreach and Education Highlights

The Whistleblower Program revised its outreach and education materials to reflect expanded whistleblower protections for city employees and city contractors. The program is collaborating with the Department of Human Resources and Ethics Commission in an effort to publicize the expanded protections and distribute the materials, which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 emergency.

During fiscal year 2019–20 the Whistleblower Program hosted two webinars to promote leading fraud hotline operational practices and effective investigation techniques to jurisdictions throughout the United States. “Guarding Credibility: Maintaining Objectivity in Government Oversight Agencies” was presented in November 2019, and “Using Root Cause Analysis to Enhance Your Anti-Fraud and Ethics Process was presented in June 2020.

We encourage city staff, contractors working on behalf of taxpayers, and all San Franciscans to learn more about the Whistleblower Program and increase or refresh their knowledge about red flags that may indicate unethical misconduct, along with the secure ways they can report misconduct.

 

Helpful Resources

 

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About the Office of the Controller

The Controller's Office works to ensure the City's financial integrity and to promote efficient, effective, and accountable government. We strive to be a model for good government and to make the City a better place to live and work. The Controller's Office is responsible for governance and conduct of key aspects of the City's financial operations, including operating the City's financial systems and procedures, maintaining the City's internal control environment, processing payroll for city employees, managing the City's bonds and debt portfolio, and processing and monitoring the City's budget. The department produces regular reports and audits on the City's financial and economic condition and the operations and performance of city government. 

 

About the Whistleblower Program

The Whistleblower Program responds to specific allegations of administrative wrongdoing by city employees and those who do business with the City. For more information, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.