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Ethics Hotline FAQ

Why is the University implementing an Ethics Hotline?
An Ethics Hotline provides a universal reporting mechanism that uses best practices to help identify and resolve fraud, waste, abuse and compliance issues. The Ethics Hotline is not intended to replace existing policies and procedures. Rather it is intended to complement the processes already in place and provide an additional tool for our employees. Many of our peer and aspirant institutions have similar programs in place.

Is the Ethics Hotline appropriate for emergencies?
The Ethics Hotline is not intended for emergency use. If you are in need of emergency assistance or believe a crime is in progress, you should call 911 or the Campus Police at 874-2121.

What types of situation should I report to the Ethics Hotline?
The Ethics Hotline is designed to receive reports regarding suspected unethical or illegal activities. Such activities may include:

  • Theft, fraud, waste or abuse of resources
  • Any form of dishonesty
  • Harassment or discrimination
  • Accounting or financial irregularities
  • On-the-job drug or alcohol abuse
  • Violence or threatening behavior
  • Violations of laws, regulations, policies or procedures
  • Research misconduct
  • Conflict of interest
  • Health and safety concerns
  • HIPAA and FERPA violations

What is Global Compliance?
Global Compliance is a comprehensive and anonymous internet- and telephone-based reporting tool that assists management and employees in working together to address fraud, misconduct and other violations in the workplace.

Why did the University contract with a third party vendor?
The vendor offers important services that would be impractical or cost prohibitive for the University to provide. The company provides trained interview specialists, the option of caller anonymity, availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and aggregate reporting of trends and usage.

How can I submit a report?
To report via the internet, go to www.uriethicsline.com.
To report via the telephone, call 1-855-236-1845.

What if I begin a report but do not have time to finish it?
If you have called into the Ethics Hotline or have started a web-based report, but do not have time to finish it, clearly state you have more information but do not have time to finish it. If you are calling, let the person know and they will include it in the notes. If you are online, include it in your details. A report ID number and PIN number will be assigned to you. When you have time to resume the report, either call back to the Ethics Hotline or access your report online using the report ID number and PIN number and continue reporting the information.

Why should I report what I know?
We all have the right to work in a positive environment and with that right comes the responsibility of acting in an ethical manner. Together we can build a successful organization with an outstanding reputation that protects our values. You are encouraged to seek guidance on ethical dilemmas, provide positive suggestions, or communicate any concerns to the administration.

I am aware of some individuals involved in unethical conduct, but it doesn’t affect me. Why should I bother reporting it?
The University chooses to promote ethical behaviors. Misconduct has implications for the entire University and consequently all employees and students. All unethical conduct, at any level, ultimately hurts everyone. If you know of any incidents of misconduct or ethical violations, consider it your duty to yourself and your coworkers to report it.

What if I only suspect something is wrong?
Most instances of fraud, waste, abuse and noncompliance are discovered through tips from honest people who are not sure of all the facts. Your reporting can minimize the potential negative impact to the University and its community. This type of good-faith report is encouraged as well as acceptable, keeping in mind that the intent of the report is to bring the issue to light, not to be malicious or hurtful.

If I know or suspect something, shouldn’t I just report it to my manager or Human Resources and let them deal with it?
While you are encouraged to report suspected violations directly to your immediate supervisor or to the appropriate University Administrator, the University recognizes that this may not always be an option and has made the Ethics Hotline available for these circumstances. Although all reports will be accepted by the Office of Internal Audit, the Ethics Hotline is not intended for employee grievances, e.g., complaints concerning wages, hours of work, performance evaluations, etc. Only compliance related issues will be investigated by the appropriate administrative units.

What if my supervisor or other managers are involved in a violation? Won’t they get the report?
The report is accessed only by the Office of Internal Audit and distributed to the investigating unit(s). During the investigation, only the appropriate parties who need to know will be contacted to properly address the issue.

Am I required to identify myself?
No. You do not have to reveal your identity when you call the Ethics Hotline or report using the website. Calls are not traced or recorded and IP addresses are not logged. No one will know you are the reporter unless you willingly identify yourself during the call or while completing the form online. The information you provide will be treated as confidential and privileged to the extent permitted by law.

What legal protection do I have when I report?
There are federal and state laws that protect individuals who provide confidential information regarding possible illegal activities in the workplace. Therefore, the University is not allowed to penalize those employees who provide good-faith reports of this nature. The University is committed to maintaining the confidentiality and anonymity of a reporter to the extent allowed by law. Employees who intentionally and maliciously use the Ethics Hotline to make false allegations shall be subject to disciplinary action if identified.

I am concerned that the information I provide Global Compliance may ultimately reveal my identity. How can you assure me that may not happen?
The Global Compliance system is designed to protect your anonymity. However you, as a reporting party, need to ensure that the body of the report does not reveal your identify by accident through use of terms such as “my boss,” “in XYZ building where I work,” or “since I was hired in 1998,” etc. Further, confidentiality and anonymity of a reporter is maintained to the extent permitted by law. However, it is important to recognize that a time may come during the investigation that you will be contacted through the Ethics Hotline to come forward to allow the investigation to proceed. Your options will be explained and it will be your decision.

Is the telephone toll-free Ethics Hotline confidential and anonymous, too?
Yes. You will be asked to provide the same information that you would provide in an internet-based report, and an interviewer will type your responses into the website. These reports have the same security and confidentiality measures applied to them during distribution to the Office of Internal Audit.

How can I be sure that any report I send from a university computer will not identify me as a report originator?
Global Compliance does not generate or maintain any internal connection logs with IP addresses, so no information linking your PC to Global Compliance is available.

Can I file a report from home and still remain anonymous?
The Ethics Hotline provided by Global Compliance is required by contract to protect your anonymity. The company does not track the source of reports, identify screen names or record internet addresses from computers. Your report is anonymous regardless of where you are when you file your report.

Where do these reports go? Who can access them?
Reports are accessed by the Office of Internal Audit and referred only to specific individuals at the University who are charged with evaluating the type of violation and facts of the incident on a case-by-case basis. Each report recipient has had training in keeping these reports confidential.

What if I remember something important about the incident after I filed the report? What is the University has further questions for me concerning my report?
When you file a report you will receive a unique report ID number, a PIN number and a follow up date. You can return to the Global Compliance system again either by internet or telephone and access the original report. You can then answer questions posed by a University representative and add further information that may help resolve open issues. We strongly suggest that you return to the site in 14 days to answer any questions submitted by those reviewing the report.

How do I know an investigation is taking place based on my report?
The University is committed to promptly investigating all reports of unethical, illegal or inappropriate activity. When an issue is reported through the Ethics Hotline, the specific action taken may depend on the nature and severity of the alleged violation. You can be assured that compliance related reports will be investigated; however, in order to maintain confidentiality and anonymity of all parties involved you may not be aware that an investigation has taken place. On the follow up date, you will be provided with a brief message informing you whether an investigation is underway or directing you to the appropriate University contact.

Are follow up reports as secure as the initial report?
All follow up correspondence is held in the same strict confidence as the initial report continuing under the umbrella of anonymity.

What if I want to be identified with my report?
If you wish to be identified, the opportunity exists. During your report, you will be asked if you wish to be identified and you may provide your name.

I’m afraid I may lose my job if I submit a report. What do I do?
Employees are covered under The Rhode Island Whistleblowers’ Protection Act as described in RIGL 28-50-3. This act prohibits retaliation against state employees for disclosing a violation or noncompliance with laws, rules, or regulations.

I am concerned that I do not have proper internal controls to manage risks in my department. Who can I ask to help?
The Office of Internal Audit offers advisory services which can give recommendations to help improve and manage risks within your department. Contact them at: http://web.uri.edu/adminfinance/internalaudit

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