1 866-840-5837 Part II

On Monday December 22nd 2014 some 20 months after creating the Fraud and Waste Hotline the City of Winnipeg Published the following communique:

 

 

For Immediate Release

Monday, December 22, 2014

 

Fraud & Waste Hotline

 

Recognize it. Report it.

 

Winnipeg, MB – The City of Winnipeg’s webpage has been updated to provide information and access to the Fraud & Waste Hotline. The Hotline is available to all citizens as a convenient and confidential way to report any observed or suspected fraud, theft or misuse involving City resources. Reports should be about a specific incident and should, to the extent possible, include the – “who, what, when and where.”

 

The Fraud & Waste Hotline is operated by an independent third party under contract with the Audit Department and is accessible by phone or internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To report an incident of suspected fraud or other inappropriate activity, please visit the Fraud & Waste Hotline online at clearviewconnects.com or by telephone at 1-866-840-5837. Information in reports can only be accessed by the Audit Department.

 

Additional information is available at City of Winnipeg – Audit Department.

 

There is no indication at this point that the City has taken any steps to internally publish the other Hotline number,  1 877-319-5186, which is intended for use by civic employees.

Although the City should be applauded for finally doing the right thing in terms of informing the public about the Fraud and Waste Hotline, they now need to address the other half of the equation which is to provide education and training to civic employees in terms of what constitutes fraud and waste.  As well, they need to  ensure that everyone understands that  as employees they are under an obligation to report matters that are contrary to the best interests of the City.

Lastly, the City needs to introduce meaningful protection for employees who in good faith bring to the attention of the City for the purposes of investigation any instances of fraud or waste.  Internal reporting of wrongdoing is a very difficult scenario and unless guarantees of protection exist employees will not come forward with such information.

If the City is serious about addressing the issue of fraud and waste it needs to enact whistle blower legislation to protect employees who come forward and report instances of fraud and waste.  The half hearted approach outlined in Administrative Directive HR 008 is grossly inadequate and sends the wrong message to employees.  

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1 866-840-5837

waste abuse fraud

A very significant number that Winnipeg 311 is still not aware of

Yesterday I wrote a post about a couple of witnesses that apparently have come forward (according to media reports), to police with information about possible corruption at City Hall, the Civic Service or both.

That  post prompted one of my readers to send me an email about an incident involving the City that he felt was inappropriate  in terms of the bidding process.  In his mind it was at the very least wasteful.  This prompted him to ask the question:

“Who do I tell ???? Not like there is anyone willing to listen.”

That brought to mind a previous post I wrote about the City of Winnipeg Fraud and Waste Hotline.

Thinking that the Fraud and Waste Hotline might be a good point of contact for my reader I called Winnipeg 311 and asked for the phone number for the City of Winnipeg Fraud and Waste Hotline.  The long and the short of this inquiry was that the result I got was the same as that obtained by the Free Press when they made the same inquiry in September of this year.  311 was not aware of the existence of such a hotline and as a consequence did not have the phone number.

What should one conclude from the fact that even after the Free Press made the same inquiry some 3 months ago and exposed the fact that 311 did not have available vital information that the public is entitled to and that after the passage of three months no steps have been taken to address that issue?  I suppose there are a number of inferences that could be drawn.  The first is that 311 supervisors and managerial staff are either incompetent or don’t care.  Surely if they were competent or cared they would have taken some action after the embarrassment caused by the aforementioned Free Press article.  The second inference is that 311 staff and management do care and want to do the right thing (which is the sense I got when I called them today) but are being stifled or muzzled by the administration in terms of the information they have available to them and that they are allowed to give out to the public.  This second scenario, were it the case, would be of greater concern than the first.

No wonder the uptake by civic employees and members of the public has been so low in terms of calls to the hotline.  Most don’t know about its existence and those that do are not familiar with the contact information.

People cannot call a hotline when the very existence of such a hotline is suppressed and the contact information is not available to civic employees or the public.

I urge everyone to contact our new mayor and their respective members of council and ask them to do the right thing.  If we are serious about fraud and waste at City Hall there needs to be both an internal and external education program in terms of what constitutes fraud and waste.  As well, the process to bring such information forward must be clearly outlined and the contact information must be readily available.

So let’s start down that road.  The City of Winnipeg has entered into an agreement with a company call Clearview Connects, a third party confidential reporting service that will receive and document  information about possible fraud or waste as it relates to the City of Winnipeg.  Reports can be made both through the internet at Clearview Connects or via telephone.  The telephone numbers are:

Civic Employees                     1 877-319-5186

Members of the Public          1 866-840-5837