Recently the County removed an agenda item consisting of a report by the County Manager on the Board of the Employee Financial Fraud, Waste and Abuse hotline’s first year of operation. The County Manager, who attended the meeting, said the report was postponed to give the newly appointed County Auditor, Jessica Tucker, time to review it.
The hotline is not open to the public. Although it purportedly allows employees to remain “anonymous,” in general specific information about problems can traced back to a few individuals who may have access. So figuring out who is squealing probably isn’t that hard.
Apparently the hotline hasn’t turned up much. Given the ease with which whistle blowers can be identified, a closed hotline makes no sense. Opening it up to the public might make employees less hesitant to come forward, and might also provide the County Manager with leads when abuses occur.
In addition I recommend that the hotline be available for complaints regarding the performance of County contractors. A situation that cries for such redress is the Ashlawn School construction site, where flooding and runoff due to the failure of County contractors to comply with the use permit for the site following construction of a school extension, caused neighbors to complain to no avail. In fact one neighbor was so disgusted by the lack of response, he wrote to County Board:
“I truly don’t understand the lack of response from County officials, and the vacuous acknowledgements sent by the School Board and County Board which weaken your credibility. If you spent half as much money and time on responding to constituents as you do on PR -esp for APS- we might be better served. Based on my interactions to date, it seems the problem is you (elected officials) are absorbed with inputs from trivial to significant, and are not well served by your staff in filtering inputs and managing interaction with your constituents. Or you don’t care.”
An open fraud, waste and abuse hotline just might make the County a little less complacent.