Dayton leaders want to make whistleblower complaints easier

The city of Dayton is looking to provide whistleblower services to field complaints about fraud, waste, abuse, illegal and unethical activities and wrongdoing.

The city has issued a request for proposals in search of vendors that can operate a confidential reporting system that operates 24/7, every day of the year.

City leaders want a toll-free telephone hotline and online reporting tool that allows city employees to anonymously report government misconduct and other concerns.

MORE: 11 Dayton Daily News investigations that shaped 2017

The city is committed to strong fiscal stewardship and creating a whistleblower program is another internal control to protect public resources, said Diane Shannon, Dayton’s director of procurement, management and budget.

The program is supposed to prevent future wrongdoing, and research indicates that organizations with whistleblower hot lines detect acts of fraud faster and any fraud incidents are less costly, she said.

“There have been no documented reports of fraud or corruption that precipitated the release of this RFP, nor have there been any reports of retaliation,” she said.

Across the nation, agencies use whistleblower hot lines to try to keep government honest, efficient and accountable.

Employee whistleblowers have a variety of protections under state and federal laws, but fear of retaliation is one of the main reasons people do not report wrongdoing at work, experts say.

Last year, a former city of Dayton contractor testified at a dismissal hearing of an electrician that multiple city departments kept the proceeds from scrap-recycling sales in petty cash funds.

The contractor testified that supervisors paid for staff barbecues, equipment and other expenses with petty cash funds.

During the hearing, multiple city officials said they never authorized and were unaware of any petty cash funds.

Officials strongly objected to the notion that departments were allowed to keep off-the-books cash funds and said employees should have reported the “inappropriate” activity.

RELATED: Dayton employee accused of metal theft wins job back

The city fired the electrician, who accompanied a supervisor to a recycling center as he sold city-owned scrap for cash.

The supervisor retired and agreed to repay the city about $956 as part of a separation agreement.

The electrician won his job back after Dayton’s Civil Service Board concluded he did not directly participate in the sale of the scrap metal. The board also said the evidence indicated the city had a a “long-standing culture and practice” of maintaining scrap metal cash funds.

MORE: Conflicting evidence: Did Dayton workers have off-book cash funds?

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