In June 2000, Audit Committee requested that the Auditor General submit an annual report on the status of fraud and related matters. This report represents the Auditor General’s twelfth annual report relating to fraud activities at the City.
The City established a Fraud and Waste Hotline Program in 2002 with Council’s support to provide an independent resource for employees or members of the public to report or disclose wrongdoing involving City resources, anonymously if preferred. Since that time the activities of the Fraud and Waste Hotline have been included in the annual report.
One of the benefits of the annual report is to demonstrate to employees and the public that action is taken when issues of fraud and waste are reported to the Auditor General’s Office.
In 2011, 822 complaints were received representing a 44 per cent increase in the number of hotline complaints received in 2010. It should be noted however, that a majority of complaints received included at least two or more allegations. As such, we estimate the actual number of complaints is in the range of 1,700.
The City of Toronto’s Fraud Prevention Policy formalized the duty of employees to report allegations of fraud and wrongdoing involving City resources and set out reporting protocols and procedures. The Policy also includes a provision on whistle blower protection.
A separate Whistle Blower Protection Policy has since been adopted by City Council and further enacted as a By-law in the City of Toronto Municipal Code, effective June 15, 2011.
As a result, the Auditor General’s responsibility to investigate allegations of reprisal under the Whistle Blower Protection Policy, resulting from a complaint to the Fraud and Waste Hotline Program, is now legislated.
The City’s Fraud Prevention Policy which was last revised in 2007 should be reviewed and updated to ensure it is consistent with the provisions of the 2011 Whistle Blower Protection Policy and By-law. As well, the current wording of the Fraud Prevention Policy does not communicate to employees that they have an option of reporting complaints directly to the Fraud and Waste Hotline Program, without having to first notify their immediate manager.
While the Auditor General’s Office is responsible for the operation of the City’s Hotline Program, management is responsible for ensuring corporate policies intended to provide guidance to employees on reporting wrongdoing are reviewed and updated on a regular basis.