IntegrityStar UCF Compliance & Ethics Newsletter UCF Compliance & Ethics Newsletter

When to Blow the Whistle

The whistle-blower term comes from the expression “blow the whistle” and refers to a sports official who calls a foul during the game. When university wrongdoing occurs, calling foul as soon as possible can save the university millions in fines and legal fees and preserve a priceless reputation.

The outcome of whistle-blowing depends on how the foul is called. Poorly handled, whistle-blowing can cause harm to the university through lengthy lawsuits, negative news coverage or other embarrassing exposure. For the employee, it may mean investigations, embarrassment and possibly income loss. Correctly handled, a whistle-blower’s complaint allows the university to correct issues before they turn into big problems. This is why our university welcomes reports of any wrongdoing, illegal or unethical practice. Our university wants you to understand the implications and issues involved in making a report so that you can evaluate a situation and take appropriate action.

 Smart Reporting

Issues that are illegal, unethical, or dangerous must be brought to the attention of our university as quickly as possible. Experts from government agencies, regulatory groups, and the court system say that the best way to get results is to work within the system, using internal reporting channels and mechanisms. To help an investigation proceed rapidly and result in necessary changes, consider these guidelines for reporting.

  • Always start by discussing the issue with your immediate supervisor. If this is not possible or you’re not comfortable doing so, speak to HR, submit a report to the UCF IntegrityLine, or to a central or administrative office such as University Audit or University Compliance, Ethics, and Risk.
  • Be sure your allegations are based on truth and can be proven.
  • Focus on the problem being reported. Don’t muddy the waters by making broad generalizations or by bringing up past issues that are not relevant.

Reporting Leads to Positive Change

According to the Board of Governors regulation 4.003, State University System Compliance and Ethics Programs, the university is required to publicize a mechanism for individuals to report potential or actual misconduct and violations of university policy, regulations, or law. Our university’s reporting channels share some important best practices:

  • Reports can be anonymous. For callers who do provide their name, privacy is respected, as far as a careful and professional investigation allows.
  • All good faith reports are taken seriously and investigated fully.
  • During an investigation, we involve only those who must be involved. Steps are taken to preserve confidentiality while the case is open, and appropriate experts such as legal or accounting are consulted when necessary.
  • Those who take in reports via the UCF IntegrityLine or other channels remain neutral. They do not “take sides” on an issue.
  • If problems are found during an investigation, necessary changes are made and employees are informed of the changes.

Our Commitment to Respond

At our university, anyone reporting a problem in good faith is protected from retaliation. We take legitimate complaints very seriously, will protect the person making the complaint, and will investigate and take steps to correct the problem. Learning about these issues early gives the university an edge because we have time to respond and correct problems before they grow. Employees who report problems through appropriate internal channels play a vital role in our university’s future.

Because they often raise difficult issues, reporters are sometimes labeled as troublemakers or tattletales. In some instances, they’ve been subjected to humiliation, retaliation, and even job loss. Our university understands that silencing reporters– “shooting the messenger”– solves nothing. Beyond the problems it can inflict on our university’s performance and culture, ignoring or retaliating against whistle-blowers violates the law. We encourage people to report problems through our internal reporting channels. If you have questions about reporting an issue or problem, contact your supervisor, Human Resources, University Compliance, Ethics, and Risk, University Audit, or the UCF IntegrityLine.