Whistle-blower Program: the process
The Whistle-blower Program (WBP) process provides assurance that each concern reported is given an equal and objective review. Appropriate investigation is made by professional staff experienced in conducting confidential investigations.
All activities of the WBP are confidential and shared only on a need-to-know basis or as necessary in order to conclude on the investigation and/or recommend corrective action. The WBP does not provide details on any investigation or disciplinary action taken by management.
The WBP communicates with whistle-blowers as the issue progresses through the various phases described below.
Where possible, confirmation of receipt of reported concerns is provided within 1 working day. An initial assessment of the reported concern is made to identify exceptions and direct certain matters outside the WBP.
During this phase, each concern is assessed in detail to ensure that it meets WBP reporting criteria and contains sufficient information necessary to investigate. As necessary, a Triage Team recommends the best course of action, which may include further investigation. Some concerns can be concluded by the assessment process and not require additional investigation.
Following assessment, the WBP will advise of the disposition of the reported concern.
Referral or investigation
Each matter assessed has 3 options: referral, investigation, or no further action.
Referral: On occasion, a reported concern is determined to not require a whistle-blower investigation. If it is determined that management should be aware of an issue, that issue is directed to the relevant City department for action. On referral, the WBP considers the matter closed.
Investigation: Investigations are conducted by or under the direction of the WBP investigation team, which can resource investigators from Corporate Security, subject matter experts from Human Resources, or management. The commencement of an investigation is determined through a risk-based prioritization process which considers other active investigations in queue.
No Further Action: Some matters do not require further action beyond assessment. Where evidence during the assessment stage can be located demonstrating the actions were appropriate, a formal investigation is not required.
Results are documented and as necessary, substantiated allegations are shared with the appropriate City Department General Manager for appropriate action and to consider any corrective actions recommended.
Any reporting generated during an investigation is solely for the purpose of documenting investigative activity, results, and conclusions, in support of maintaining strong investigative practices. Report content is not intended to be distributed to, or shared with, any person, for any purpose not directly related to the purpose of the investigation and/or related corrective action.
Recommendations and closing
Following investigation, the WBP will advise whether the alleged waste and/or wrongdoing was substantiated or unsubstantiated. Due to the sensitive and personal nature of information collected, specific details of whistle-blower investigations are disclosed only on a need-to-know basis.
Any opportunities for improvement identified by the investigation are provided to management.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
What happens to my concern once it is submitted to the WBP?
We strive to acknowledge receipt of all reports within one business day, depending on your reporting method. Our notice of acknowledgement will contain clear and useful information to guide you through the intake and assessment process.
Each concern reported is assessed in a confidential and unbiased manner using a consistent and objective analysis of the facts as reported, with due consideration given to the availability of additional evidence and/or witnesses.
The assessment phase is intended to determine an appropriate course of action, which may or may not include formal investigation. Where the assessment determines that the concern is not a whistle-blower matter, it may be redirected to a business unit. Where the WPB can communicate with you, you will receive notification of the assessment decision.
While there is no mechanism to appeal an assessment decision, if you become aware of new facts after a decision to not investigate is made, you can submit a new report for assessment.
Who will have access to my report?
All details of a whistle-blower report and related activities are confidential and shared only on a need-to-know basis necessary to receive, assess and investigate allegations.
How long do WBP investigations take? How can I stay informed?
The time necessary to investigate a concern is based on the complexity of issues under investigation, the availability of evidence and/or witnesses, and the number of investigations currently underway. Our risk-based approach to investigations requires that higher priority matters take precedence which can delay lower risk investigations. The risk re-prioritization of files can sometimes further delay investigations which pose a lower risk to The City.
The WBP process provides standard communication with the reporter during the various stages. Ongoing two-way communication, including anonymous whistle-blowers, is best supported through reports received through ClearView Connects.
On conclusion of an investigation, the WBP will notify you whether the allegation is substantiated. While specific details of the investigation will not be shared, recommendations for non-disciplinary corrective actions taken by Administration may be communicated.
What are the possible outcomes of an investigation?
The purpose of an independent WBP investigation is to determine whether the evidence supports the allegation investigated, and whether corrective action is required to ensure it does not reoccur.
WBP investigations will conclude whether an allegation, as reported, is substantiated or unsubstantiated. An activity can be substantiated but may not involve associated wrongdoing. Corrective action may be still be recommended in the case of an unsubstantiated allegation, based on The City’s commitment to the Code of Conduct and continuous improvement.
Are investigation outcomes made available to the public?
Yes and no. In support of providing transparency to the WBP process, only investigations resulting in corrective action are summarized and published quarterly on our website. See Recommendations.
The WBP publicly reports activity volume through quarterly and annual reports to the Audit Committee.