Connecticut s Whistleblower Law. Staff Briefing Legislative Program Review & Investigations October 1, 2009

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1 Connecticut s Whistleblower Law Staff Briefing Legislative Program Review & Investigations October 1, 2009

2 Study Focus Process and structure currently in place to handle whistleblower complaints within state government

3 Whistleblower Refers to someone who calls attention to wrongdoing that is occurring within an organization Law s intent: create secure climate to report problems promote government efficiency and public trust

4 Anecdotally Different societal views: Heroes Not Team Player Attention Seekers Organizations find many ways of dealing with disfavored employees. Some whistleblowers have less than honorable motives.

5 Whistleblower Law & Process

6 LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF WHISTLEBLOWER LAW Whistleblower function established within Office of Attorney General (AG) P.A P.A Expands whistleblower protection against retaliation by any agency employee AG required to report outcome to complainant Office of Inspector General (OIG) created & whistleblower functions transferred Confidentiality of records & information required P.A P.A OIG repealed & whistleblower functions transferred to Auditors & AG Eliminates provision for any report to complainant Annual whistleblower report by auditors to legislature P.A P.A Whistleblower laws extended to quasipublics Whistleblower laws extended to large state contracts ($5million+) Penalties for retaliatory action by contractors established P.A P.A Allows alternative process for retaliation complaints thru human rights referee Creates rebuttable presumption that taken or threatened personnel action w/in year is retaliatory Requires retaliatory complaints be filed w/in 30 days of taken or threatened personnel action P.A Allows affected contractors to file civil suit for damages w/in 90 days Prohibits civil liability against anyone for good faith disclosure

7 PARTIES INVOLVED IN WHISTLEBLOWER MATTERS PURSUANT TO C.G.S. 4-61DD(a) INVESTIGATE INCIDENT Whistleblower State Auditors of Public Accounts Alleged Misconduct Committed in & Reported by Complaint Referred to & Reviewed by State Department/Agency Quasi-public Agency Large State Contractor (>$5 million) Office of Attorney General REPORT Mandatory Annual Report to Legislature Governor Discretionary Report to Chief State s Attorney (if criminal matter)

8 Statutory Process

9 STATUTORY PROCESS FOR WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINTS Individual alleges misconduct in state government regarding: Corruption Unethical practices Violation of state laws or regulations Mismanagement Gross waste of funds Abuse of authority Danger to public safety Information submitted to Auditors of Public Accounts Auditors review matter & forward findings and recommendations to Attorney General Attorney General investigates as he deems proper & when necessary in consultation w/ Auditors If necessary, issues a report sent to Governor If necessary, reports criminal activity to Chief State s Attorney

10 State Auditors Process

11 WHISTLEBLOWER PROCESS WITHIN AUDITORS OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS Individual alleges misconduct in state government regarding: Corruption Unethical practices Violation of state laws or regulations Mismanagement Gross waste of funds Abuse of authority Danger to public safety Complaint submitted to other entity (e.g., Attorney General, Legislator, Governor s Office) Information submitted to Auditors of Public Accounts All complaints channeled through Admin. Auditor to ensure within statutory scope If not, refer to other entity as appropriate If yes, assign according to available staff resources Assigned auditor investigates and collects supporting evidence Noted for future audit Allegation Not Substantiated Allegation Substantiated Area of concern identified Assigned auditor prepares summary report with findings Admin. Auditor reviews report and notifies State Auditors Upon State Auditors approval, transmittal letter & summary report sent to Attorney General

12 Attorney General s Process

13 WHISTLEBLOWER PROCESS WITHIN OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL Whistleblower allegation of misconduct w/in state government AG office takes in initial complaint State Auditors prepare and refer summary report on whistleblower matter Whistleblower Unit w/in AG office Unit director reviews summary report and assigns WB attorney or investigator WB staff conducts preliminary investigation and determines w/ Unit director what approach to take: Auditor report sufficient no further action required Request Auditors to follow up on specific issues Investigate independently or in conjunction with Auditors & others as needed Close case Monitoring case Full Investigation w/ or w/o Published Report Submit Report to Governor Inform Chief State s Attorney if criminal matter

14 General Trends & Statistics

15 Whistleblower Complaints (FYs ) Number of Complaints FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08 Source: Auditors of Public Accounts Annual Reports

16 State Agencies with 10 or More Whistleblower Complaints (FY02-June 2009) MOTOR VEHICLES ECONOMIC DEVELOP. LABOR MILITARY VETERAN PUBLIC WORKS HUMAN RIGHTS & OPPORT. BESB COMMUNITY COLLEGES ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES UCONN EDUCATION PUBLIC HEALTH CT STATE UNIVERSITY TRANSPORTATION ENVIRON. PROTECTION MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTION PUBLIC SAFETY JUDICIAL UCONN HEALTH CORRECTION SOCIAL SERVICES CHILDREN & FAMILIES Total Number of Complaints

17 BESB Most Whistleblower Complaints (July 1, June 2, 2009) by Size of Agency Agency Less than 500 Employees Administrative Services Human Rights & Opport. 500 to 2,000 Employees Permanent Full-Time Employees* Total Complaints Rate per 100 Employees** *** Public Safety 1, Environ. Protection 1, Public Health More than 2,000 Employees Children & Families 3, Social Services 2, Correction 6, *As reported in State Personnel Status Report (May 30, 2009) ** For the eight year period *** Less than 100 employees Source: LPR&IC Analysis of Auditors database

18 Anonymous Complaints Rate of anonymous complaints has somewhat decreased Four agencies with more than 50% of anonymous complaints: Military Public Works Veteran Labor Number of Complaints Anonymous Whistleblower Complaints (FYs 02-08) FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08 Total Complaints Anonymous

19 Whistleblower Complaints Allegations ( June 2009) N=622 Abuse of Power 3% Ethics/Corruption/ Fraud 9% Property & Resources 9% Personnel 23% Misconduct 10% Contracts 11% Procedure 14% Safety 6% Funds 15%

20 State Auditors Whistleblower Process Time from Intake to Complete. Process Time Number of Cases with Completion Dates Average Time Median Time One Year or less months 5.5 months More than One Year years 1.5 years Total months 9.5 months Pending Cases 197 Source: LPR&IC Analysis of Auditors database

21 Whistleblower Retaliation Complaints

22 PROCEEDINGS REGARDING RETALIATORY PERSONNEL ACTIONS Employee makes whistleblower complaint to: Employer takes or threatens to take personnel action Auditors/Attorney General Agency where employee works Mandated reporter Contracting state agency for large state contract Employee may file retaliation complaint For individual relief, employee must file within 30 days of threaten or taken personnel action w/ one of the following: For Attorney General to investigate (See Figure II-3) Chief Human Rights Referee Employees Review Board or collective bargaining contract procedure, if applicable Available administrative remedies, if employee of a large state contractor Human Rights Referee conducts hearing & issues decision regarding whether retaliatory action was threatened or occurred If retaliation is found, referee may award damages and/or other restitution Any party to the hearing may appeal referee s decision to superior court

23 Retaliation Complaints Filed w/ Auditors and Referred to Attorney General Annual Number of Retaliation Complaints (2002-June 2009) Year Total Number of Retaliation Complaints Entities w/ Two or More Retaliation Complaints (2002-June 2009) BESB Children & Families Judicial UCONN Health Education Correction Public Safety Mental Health & addicition Large State Contractor 2009 Total Total Number of Complaints

24 Retaliation Complaints Filed with Chief Human Rights Referee (2003 August 26, 2009) Annual Number of Retaliation Complaints & Complainants Filing w/ CHHR (2003-August 26, 2009) Year Complaints Total Number Complainants CHRR Retaliation Complaints by Type of Respondent (2003-August 26, 2009) State Agency 62% Large State Contractor 23% Municipal 15% 2009* Total 99 86

25 Final Disposition of CHRR Retaliation Complaints (2003-August 26, 2009) Majority are dismissed or withdrawn CHRR Whistleblower Retaliation Complaints (N=99) Withdrawn 29% Settled 6% Pending 15% No decision found for complainant but 6 settled & 15 pending Process times vary but most resolved within a year or less For Respondent 6% Dismissed 44%

26 Federal Government

27 FEDERAL AGENCIES INVOLVED IN WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS Primary Whistleblower Responsibility Office of Special Counsel (OSC) Other Agency Specific Whistleblower Responsibility Disclosure Unit (DU): Provides secure portal for all whistleblower claims & evaluates complaints Federal Inspector General: May be requested to provide further investigation into whistleblower complaints Complaints Examining Unit (CEU): Handles whistleblower retaliation complaints Investigation & Prosecution Division (IPD): Investigates potentially valid retaliation claims identified by CEU Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB): May review appeal of OSC retaliation decision Federal Attorney General: May be involved if criminal matter

28 Distinct Features Set process timeframes Automatic complainant notification Only accepts first-hand knowledge Anonymous complaints treated separately Team approach (investigator and attorney) for retaliation cases Stay of personnel action allowed until an investigation is complete

29 Areas for Further Review Complete Auditors & Attorney General case file review: Case activities Source of complaints (internal vs external) Outcomes & Agency Response Retaliation cases Factors affecting process time Other states

30 Public Hearing Today Legislative Office Building Room 2D at 3:00 p.m.

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