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ADM-6.02 - Auditor's OpenCity Tipline

AUDITOR'S OPENCITY TIPLINE

Administrative Rule Adopted by the City Auditor Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority

ARB-ADM-6.02


 

A.  Purpose

 

To provide City of Portland employees and the public with an additional method of reporting concerns about fraud, waste or misuse of City resources, and abuse of position. The intent of the OpenCity Tipline is to identify and prevent losses of City funds and resources and to act as a deterrent to fraud, waste, and abuse.

 

B.  Authority

 

The Auditor released an audit, "Fraud Reporting: Clarification of process and training needed" in September 2009. That audit identified improvements needed in the City’s fraud reporting process. The OpenCity Tipline is an initiative of the Auditor through the Office of the Ombudsman.

 

C.  Responsibilities of City Officials and Employees

 

All employees of the City of Portland are required to comply with the City’s Human Resources Administrative Rules (HRARs) regarding behavior in the workplace.

 

Managers, supervisors, and administrators at all levels are responsible for maintaining a system of internal controls which prevent, deter or detect fraud, waste, misuse of City resources, abuse of position, and unethical or dishonest behavior. Managers, supervisors, and administrators are also expected to recognize risks and potential exposures that may be inherent within their areas of responsibility and to be alert to any indication of irregularity.

 

HRAR 11.03 states that all City employees "are expected to report observed unlawful or improper actions by a city official. Employees are expected to disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption by a city official." HRAR 11.03 defines "city official" as "any elected official, employee, appointee of a board or commission or citizen volunteer authorized to act on behalf of the City of Portland."

 

City officials should report observed unlawful or improper actions to their supervisor, bureau director, the City Auditor or an appropriate law enforcement agency.

 

In addition, City officials and employees are expected to cooperate with investigations when requested to do so. This cooperation may take the form of responding to information requests or providing documentation.

 

D.  Reportable Incidents

 

The Auditor’s OpenCity Tipline is designed to accept reports of suspected fraud, waste or misuse of City resources, and abuse of position.

 

1.  Fraud

Fraud is defined as the intentional misappropriation of City assets by any act including, but not limited to, theft, embezzlement, or misrepresentation. Fraud can be internal or external, in that it can be perpetrated by contractors or vendors as well as by City officials and employees.

 

Examples of fraud:

•  Misappropriation of City cash and other funds

•  Submitting invoices for fictitious or personal goods and services

•  Theft or unauthorized removal of City records or property

•  Willful destruction or damage of City records or City property

•  Forgery of any document or account belonging to the City

•  Falsification of records such as time cards or travel and other expense vouchers

•  Impropriety in the handling or reporting of money or financial transactions

•  Stealing a check the City issued to another payee

•  Computer fraud or information theft

 

2.  Waste

Waste is defined as the needless, careless or extravagant expenditure of City funds as result of inefficient or ineffective practices, systems or controls, or misuse of resources for personal use.

 

Examples of waste and misuse of City resources:

•  Unauthorized use or misuse of City property

•  Not working when being paid to work except for authorized administrative leave

 

3.  Abuse

Abuse is defined as use of employment with the City to obtain personal gain or benefit from the City to which one is not entitled for the employee or someone else such as a friend or family member. Such actions constitute abuse of position and abuse of public trust.

 

Examples of abuse of position:

•  Obtaining a benefit or service from the City for which they do not qualify

•  Providing a benefit or service to someone for which they do not qualify

•  Unauthorized reduction of fines or fees

•  Bid-fixing

•  Suspending or terminating enforcement action based on a personal relationship

•  Unauthorized disclosure of confidential and proprietary information

 

E.  Receipt of Reports of Suspected Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

 

The Auditor’s Office may receive complaints and allegations from any employee, official, bureau or office, or from any member of the public. Any person providing a complaint or report of suspected wrong-doing to the Auditor’s OpenCity Tipline may do so anonymously. In addition, the Auditor’s Office may initiate an investigation into potential fraud, waste, or abuse on its own initiative.

The City Auditor’s OpenCity Tipline allows individual employees and members of the public to report suspected fraud, waste and misuse of City resources, and abuse of position using a web-based reporting system or telephone reporting system. The Auditor’s Office will provide and publish detailed information on how to file a report to all City officials and employees as well as the public.

 

F.  OpenCity Tipline Administrator, Complaint Examination, and Referrals

 

The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman), a division of the Auditor’s Office, will act as the OpenCity Tipline Administrator. The Administrator will conduct a thorough analysis of each complaint received and take appropriate action.

 

The Administrator is responsible for the following activities:

•  Receive the initial incident report

•  Promptly conduct preliminary review and determine appropriate action. Action may include, but not be limited to:

o  Refer the report to the appropriate City department for further review and response

o  Investigate the report and respond or prepare recommendations in accordance with Portland City Code and Ombudsman Policies and Procedures

o  Refer report to a law enforcement and/or regulatory agency for further investigation

o  Consult or collaborate with other Auditor’s Office divisions, including Audit Services

o  Determine no further action is required and close case

•  If referred, monitor the review or investigation

o  Receive formal briefings and reports regarding the review or investigation when appropriate

o  Formulate an opinion or recommendation regarding the outcome of the review or investigation and present that opinion or recommendation to the applicable department director or elected official

 

The Administrator will also provide and publish a list of additional resources for complaints not accepted by the Auditor’s OpenCity Tipline.

 

The Administrator will establish regular liaison meetings between the Auditor’s Office and other City departments as necessary to facilitate cooperation with referrals and investigations.

 

G.  Assistance to Enforcement Agencies

 

The Auditor’s Office has no independent enforcement authority. However, after referral to an appropriate City department, regulatory agency, or law enforcement agency, the Auditor’s Office may provide assistance, upon request, to the agency receiving the referral.

 

H.  Independence and Objectivity

 

The independently elected City Auditor works to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used appropriately, as well as efficiently, effectively, and equitably. In addition, the Auditor’s Office is bound by government and professional standards to maintain objectivity and independence in the work it carries out and to avoid any conflict of interest or any perceived conflict of interest.

 

To ensure independence and objectivity and to prevent a conflict of interest, the Auditor (and/or designee) will not be involved in any preliminary review or investigation in which the Auditor (and/or designee) may be implicated.

 

I.  Confidentiality

 

The Auditor’s Office shall, to the fullest extent of the law, maintain strict confidentiality over OpenCity Tipline documents and communications. The Auditor’s Office will not disclose the identity of any person who files a report. However, the substance of a report may be shared as necessary with pertinent bureau management, a regulatory agency, or a law enforcement agency to carry out referrals. The Auditor’s Office may release aggregated or summary case information for reporting purposes.

 

In order to protect the reporting process, limited updates may be provided as long as they do not violate any laws or policies. If necessary, a person who files a report may be contacted if it is necessary to obtain further information.

 

Written case information and communication with persons making reports should be made in the web-based case management application to ensure confidentiality, consistency, and complete follow-up of all cases. OpenCity Tipline submissions may fall under the confidentiality exemption Oregon Revised Statutes 192.502 (4) "Information submitted to a public body in confidence and not otherwise required by law to be submitted, where such information should reasonably be considered confidential, the public body has obliged itself in good faith not to disclose the information, and when the public interest would suffer by the disclosure." The elements of the exemption are:

 

1.  The information was submitted on the condition that the information would be kept confidential.

 

2.  The information was not required by law.

 

3.  The information must be of a nature that reasonably should be kept confidential.

 

4.  The public body must show that it has obliged itself in good faith not to disclose the information.

 

5.  Disclosure of the information must cause harm to the public interest.

 

If a public records request for OpenCity Tipline information is made, it should be made in writing to the City Auditor using the City of Portland’s Uniform Public Records Request Form.

 

J.  Anonymity

 

Individuals reporting via the Auditor’s OpenCity Tipline may choose to identify themselves or to remain anonymous. If a person filing a report chooses to identify him or herself, they do so with the expectation that their identity will be kept confidential and used only for investigatory purposes.

 

Because HRAR 11.03 Duty to Report Unlawful or Improper Actions may be interpreted as a requirement by law, City of Portland officials may not be covered by the exemption in the previous section and may wish to remain anonymous to protect their identity.

 

K.  Retaliation

 

HRAR 11.03 prohibits any retaliation against an employee for filing a complaint or report under HRAR 11.03 or for cooperating in an internal or external government investigation. Retaliation is prohibited even if the underlying complaint or report is not substantiated.

 

Additionally, ARRA Section 1553 provides broad protection for whistleblowers. For more information see www.recovery.gov or the City of Portland’s ARRA Compliance site at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/index.cfm?c=50617

 

L.  References

 

HRAR 11.01 Statement of Ethical Conduct

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/omf/index.cfm?c=27799&a=93454

 

HRAR 11.02 Prohibited Conduct

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/omf/index.cfm?c=27799&a=93455

 

HRAR 11.03 Duty to Report Unlawful or Improper Actions

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/omf/index.cfm?c=27799&a=92430

 

Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 659A — Unlawful Discrimination in Employment, Public Accommodations and Real Property Transactions; Administrative and Civil Enforcement http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/659a.html

 

Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 165 — Offenses Involving Fraud or Deception

http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/165.html

 

Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) Administrative Rules

http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_800/oar_839/839_tofc.html

 

City of Portland Code of Ethics

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor/index.cfm?a=1243&&c=26811

 


HISTORY

 

Adopted by the City Auditor and filed for inclusion in PPD January 14, 2010.

Amended by the City Auditor February 12, 2013.