1.3.1 Ethics and Compliance Reporting Hotline

1.3.1

Ethics & Compliance Reporting Hotline

Last Update Approved: August 28, 2014

Revised/Edited: July 8, 2015

Revised Effective: August 7, 2015

Overview: Middle Georgia State University (MGA) recognizes that an ethical, efficient, and effective work environment is essential to our continuing to successfully accomplish our mission. As a result, we have always placed a high priority on assuring that each member of our community has the opportunity and means to convey any matter that could compromise that environment. Employees are encouraged to report such matters through his/her supervisory chain which frequently produces the most thorough and timely resolution of a matter. However, other reporting avenues, such as Human Resources and the Police Department, have been and continue to be readily available. Reporting through the Hotline service provided by Global Compliance, an independent company, is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Hotline does not replace the existing reporting mechanisms noted above, but serves as an additional reporting mechanism. The Hotline allows faculty, staff, students and visitors the option to confidentially report concerns and wrongdoing by telephone or on-line, and to remain anonymous if so desired. A link to the MGA Ethics and Compliance Hotline exists on the Office of Internal Audit: Ethics & Compliance Reporting webpage.

NOTE: The procedures set forth the investigative processes for hotline complaints, according to University System of Georgia (USG) Business Procedures Manual (BPM) 16.5; however, depending on the nature of the complaint, additional MGA policies and/or procedures may detail the exact process to follow for investigation and resolution of a specific complaint. For example, student grievances will be investigated in accordance with policies and procedures set forth by the Office of Student Affairs and/or the Provost’s Office, depending on the nature of the grievance.

Conduct to Report: Per USG BPM 16.4 – Reporting Wrongdoing, MGA employees have an affirmative responsibility to timely report wrongdoing. Wrongdoing is defined under this policy as violation of MGA policies, USG policies, state or federal law, violations of ethical and professional conduct, and fraud, waste or abuse. Examples of wrongdoing include, but are not limited to, USG Code of Conduct violations, discrimination, harassment, research misconduct, academic misconduct and policy violations. Fraud, waste and abuse as well as harassment of any kind are of special concern to MGA as these can impact our stewardship responsibilities and the well-being of individuals in the campus community.

Where to Report: Unless otherwise indicated or circumstances make it inappropriate, employees should report significant concerns or wrongdoing through their supervisory chain. Other reporting avenues, however, are available, including Human Resources and the Police Department. Wrongdoing and significant concerns can also be reported confidentially on the Ethics and Compliance Reporting Hotline which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online or at: 877-516-3460.

Confidentiality Statement: All employees involved with a Hotline complaint are accountable and responsible for maintaining confidentiality. Due diligence and reasonable care must be exercised when handling confidential information. Employees involved in a Hotline complaint should not discuss the matter with anyone outside their reporting chain, and when doing so, should not attempt to influence another employee’s responses during an investigation, should take measures to secure the investigative file so that its contents cannot be accessed by others and should not report on or release any information about the incident to internal or external parties without approval from the University Counsel.

Protection against Retaliation: MGA employees may not interfere with the right of an employee to report concerns or wrongdoing and may not retaliate or take adverse employment action against an employee who, in good faith, has reported concerns or wrongdoing or has cooperated in an investigation. Retaliation violates federal and state laws, Board of Regents’ policies, and MGA policies. Alleged violations of this provision should be reported to the MGA Executive Director of Human Resources. Violations of this provision may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

False Reports/ False Information: This policy does not protect an employee who files a false report or who provides information without a reasonable belief in the truth or accuracy of the information. Any employee who knowingly files a false report or intentionally provides false information during an investigation may be subject to disciplinary action which may include termination of employment.

Complaint Management: The Internal Auditor is responsible for managing the Hotline. Complaints that escalate to an emergency level are immediately transmitted by Hotline operators to the Police Department. Non-emergency complaints are emailed by Hotline operators to the Triage Committee. The Triage Committee is comprised of the University Counsel, Executive Director of Human Resources, Police Chief and the Internal Auditor. Complaints received through the Hotline are reviewed by the Triage Committee to determine to the extent necessary the appropriate review or investigation. The committee may also make a recommendation to seek outside consultation from other MGA and USG departments or outside agencies. USG Compliance & Ethics Program staff will be consulted, as needed, regarding appropriate responses to a hotline complaint.

Complaint Review and Assignment: Within 48 hours of receipt of a complaint from Global Compliance operators, the Internal Auditor will respond to the reporter acknowledging receipt of the complaint. The Triage Committee will meet and evaluate each complaint. The Triage Committee may invite MGA unit heads not involved in the investigation to serve on the team to evaluate a particular complaint within that unit head’s expertise. The purpose of the evaluation meeting is to review the substance of the complaint and the parties involved to determine if a conflict of interest exists for any of the Triage Committee members, to evaluate the complaint, to assign the complaint for investigation to a Triage Committee member, and to discuss follow up. Any Triage Committee member with a conflict of interest will be excluded from further access to the complaint and the complaint will be assigned to another Triage Committee member.

When a complaint is received for which an existing policy and complaint mechanism exists, the complaint will be assigned, investigated and resolved pursuant to such policy. For example: the Triage Committee will assign Customer Service and Human Resource complaints (performance, interpersonal relations, etc.) to the respective unit head for clarification of the substance of the complaint and for investigation and resolution in accordance with the applicable university policy. Sexual harassment or sexual misconduct complaints will be assigned to the Title IX Coordinator for investigation and resolution according to the university’s Title IX policy. The Internal Auditor will document the assignment in the Global Compliance system and case will be closed when the investigation is completed.

If additional information from the reporter is necessary for proper evaluation of the allegations, the Internal Auditor will request the information from the reporter and provide a deadline for response. The complaint will not be evaluated for assignment until this information is received; if the information is not received within the prescribed deadline, the complaint will be closed and the reporter will be notified.

Complaints of potential criminal malfeasance by an employee will be reported by the Internal Auditor to the USG Chief Audit Officer.

Issues involving members of the Triage Committee or MGA executive management shall be referred to USG Chief Audit Officer.

Investigation Procedures: The Internal Auditor is the case manager for all Hotline reports. If doing so will not compromise the investigation, the Internal Auditor or investigator will notify the individual named in the complaint that a complaint has been made through the Hotline about him or her and that such complaint is under investigation. The accused will be notified of MGA’s confidentiality statement and protection against retaliation contained within this procedure. The Internal Auditor or investigator will notify the unit head of the existence of the complaint and the pending investigation. The scope of the investigation should include at a minimum, an interview with the individual reporter, if the reporter self-identified and the accused. Other individuals named in the complaint should be interviewed, only if a witness or if necessary, to substantiate or refute the allegations, with careful evaluation after each interview, using the procedures recommended by the USG Office of Internal Audit. All individuals interviewed will be reminded of the MGA confidentiality statement and protection against retaliation. In addition, the Internal Auditor or investigator should review policy and procedures relevant to the complaint. The investigator will document all relevant information to the case file and prepare a report summarizing the investigation. The Internal Auditor will monitor the investigation and provide reminders to any investigators, if needed, to ensure swift resolution. MGA’s goal is to have all matters resolved within 60 days, provide prompt and thorough communication to the reporter and the accused, and document the process in Global Compliance.

Investigation Outcomes and Actions: If an investigative report reveals that an employee has violated a policy or policies of MGA or of the Board of Regents, that an employee or unit needs training on a particular topic, counseling, reprimand, suspension, termination, or any other corrective action is recommended, the matter will be referred to the employee’s supervisor and the Executive Director of Human Resources for resolution. In such instances, the employee and his or her supervisor may meet with Human Resources to review the matter and plan the corrective action(s) for the employee and/or unit. The Executive Director of Human Resources will communicate the planned corrective action and inform the Internal Auditor when the corrective action has been completed. The final investigative report will reflect the completion date of the corrective action. If the investigation reveals a policy or procedure is needed or existing policy or procedure needs revising, the matter will be referred to the appropriate policy owner for follow up. The Internal Auditor will document whether any corrective action is taken and the date of completion in the Global Compliance file.

If an investigative report reveals that an employee violated city or county ordinance or state or federal law, the Internal Auditor will report this to the USG Office of Internal Audit.

If an investigation reveals that a student has violated the Student Code of Conduct, the investigator’s report will reflect this and the matter will be referred by the investigator to the Office of Student Affairs.

The reporter and the accused employee will be notified of the status of the investigation and the resolution and outcome of the complaint by the Internal Auditor.

The Internal Auditor is responsible for closing the case after the investigation is complete, all corrective actions are completed and documented in the Global Compliance system and all parties are notified of the resolution.

Tracking Complaints: MGA will analyze all complaints to track and monitor trends or problem areas that may need focused management attention. Tracking of complaints will occur among offices and in particular subject areas. MGA will provide additional controls, expanded policies or procedures or additional management review if needed.