CU EthicsLine: Somewhere to turn when things don't look right

Employees may anonymously report suspected violations of law, policy
By Staff

It's something an employee hopes never to need, but can take comfort in knowing is there.

The CU EthicsLine is a mechanism enabling members of the university community to anonymously report suspected violations of the law, or serious or recurring policy violations.

"It's a way for employees to report things when they don't look right," said Louise Vale, director of Internal Audit.

From August 2006, when the effort launched, through October 2010, some 145 reports were made via the toll-free phone number, 800-677-5590, or website, Statistics from reports are provided quarterly to the Board of Regents' audit committee.

"We never would have received this many reports without EthicsLine in place," Vale said.

Karen O'Dell, audit manager with Internal Audit, describes EthicsLine as "a place to ask uncomfortable questions."

Employees may anonymously report such instances as:

  • Suspected fiscal misconduct by university employees
  • Violations of federal or state law
  • Serious or recurring violations of university policy in the performance of university duties
  • Gross waste of university funds and property
  • Serious or recurring abuse of university authority (improper conduct)

Once an employee contacts EthicsLine, a report is created and assigned a unique number, enabling the reporting employee to revisit it and post or respond to additional questions from those investigating. An employee may remain anonymous or provide contact information.

EthicsPoint is the vendor for CU's EthicsLine, and all information is kept offsite on EthicsPoint's secured server. CU's Internal Audit maintains the infrastructure so that questions and concerns are routed to the appropriate contact person. Most cases have fallen under the umbrella of Human Resources.

CU's EthicsLine isn't intended as the only, or even best, way to resolve conflicts. Employees are encouraged to speak with a supervisor or manager when issues arise. Personnel issues, such as complaints of discrimination or harassment, also should be addressed with a supervisor or Human Resources. But when an issue arises calling for an independent investigation, EthicsLine is there.

"We strive to be as open and transparent as possible, and these missions are embodied in the university's codes of conduct, policies and laws," CU President Bruce D. Benson wrote about EthicsLine. "However, on the rare occasion that something does not seem right, faculty and staff should be comfortable communicating their concerns, asking questions and reporting unresolved problems.

"One place to start is the CU EthicsLine, and I encourage all who need it to use it."