The County’s policy related to workplace fraud is to identify and promptly investigate any possibility of any fraudulent activity against the County and take appropriate action, including the pursuit of legal remedies available under the law.
This policy has been established to ensure employees are aware of the following: (1) the types of acts considered to be fraudulent, (2) procedures for reporting suspected fraudulent acts, (3) steps to be taken when fraud or other related dishonest activities are suspected, and (4) consequences to expect when a dishonest act is reported. Further, this policy delineates management’s responsibility for instituting and maintaining a system of internal control to prevent and detect fraud, misappropriations and other irregularities, and to be alert for any indications of such misconduct.
A. Fraud – Fraud and other similar irregularities include but are not limited to:
1. Claim for reimbursement of expenses that are not job-related or authorized by the current Purchasing Policy, Travel Policy and/or applicable Memorandum of Understanding.
2. Forgery or unauthorized alteration of documents (checks, promissory notes, time sheets, independent contractor agreements, purchase orders, budgets, etc.).
3. Misappropriation of County assets (funds, securities, supplies, furniture, equipment, etc.).
4. Improprieties in the handling or reporting of money transactions.
5. Authorizing or receiving payment for goods not received or services not performed.
6. Computer-related activity involving unauthorized alteration, destruction, forgery, or manipulation of data or misappropriation of County-owned software.
7. Misrepresentation of information on documents.
8. Any apparent violation of Federal, State, or local laws related to dishonest activities or fraud.
9. Seeking or accepting anything of material value from those doing business with the County including vendors, consultants, contractors, lessees, applicants, and grantees. Materiality is determined by the County’s Conflict of Interest Code which incorporates the Political Reform act of 1974, regulations of the Fair Political Practices Commission (2 Cal. Admin. Code Sections 18100 et seq.), and any amendments to the Act or regulations.
10. Using County equipment, supplies, property, or funds for purposes unrelated to County business.
B. Employee – In this context, employee refers to any individual or group of individuals who receive compensation, either full- or part-time, from the County. The term also includes any volunteer who provides services to the County through an official arrangement with the County or a County organization.
C. Manager or Management – In this context, manager or management refers to any administrator, manager, director, supervisor, or other individual who manages or supervises funds or other resources, including human resources.
It is the County’s intent to fully investigate any suspected acts of fraud, misappropriation, or other similar irregularity. An objective and impartial investigation will be conducted regardless of the position, title, length of service or relationship with the County of any party who might be or become involved in or becomes the subject of such investigation.
05.17.05 Internal Procedures for Reporting Workplace Wrongdoing
A. Employees can report wrongdoing in a safe and confidential manner, and without fear of retaliation, as follows:
1. If an employee is aware of any acts of wrongdoing, an employee is encouraged to discuss his or her complaint with his or her immediate supervisor.
2. If an employee is unable to discuss the complaint with his or her immediate supervisor or if his or her immediate supervisor is the source of the problem, condones the problems or ignores the problem, the employee should immediately contact his or her Department Head.
3. If neither of the above alternatives is satisfactory the employee should immediately contact the Director of Finance regarding their complaint.
4. Where it is suspected that the wrongdoing was committed by the Director of Finance, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors should be contacted.
In no circumstances is an employee required to confront the person who is the source of the complaint before notifying any of the individuals listed above.
B. Employees will be granted whistle-blower protection when acting in accordance with this policy. When informed of a suspected impropriety, neither the County nor any person acting on behalf of the County shall:
1. Dismiss or threaten to dismiss the employee reporting the impropriety
2. Discipline, suspend, or threaten to discipline or suspend that employee
3. Impose any penalty upon that employee
4. Intimidate or coerce an employee for that employee’s role in reporting the suspected impropriety.
This section is intended to protect employees from retaliation for reporting suspected improprieties. It shall not be construed as absolving an employee of responsibility for his or her own fraudulent activity; any such fraudulent activity shall be subject to disciplinary and/or legal action.
Violations of the whistle-blower protection will result in discipline up to and including dismissal.
05.17.06 Investigation and Action
A. The Department Head shall review the reported activity and determine whether the activity may constitute fraud as defined in Section 5.17.03.
B. The Department Head shall inform the Director of Finance and the Personnel Director of suspected activity involving fraud or related dishonest activity.
C. The Department Head and Director of Finance will determine how best to investigate the suspected activity.
D. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will report to the Department Head, Director of Finance, and Personnel Director.
E. If evidence is uncovered showing possible dishonest or fraudulent activities, the Department Head, after conferring with the Director of Finance, will proceed as follows:
1. Meet with the Personnel Director (or his/her designated representative) to determine if disciplinary actions should be taken.
2. Coordinate with the County’s Risk Manager regarding notification to insurers and filing of insurance claims.
3. Take immediate action, in consultation with County Counsel, to prevent the theft, alteration, or destruction of evidentiary records. Such action shall include, but is not limited to:
a. Removing the records and placing them in a secure location, or limiting access to the location where the records currently exist.
b. Preventing the individual suspected of committing the fraud from having access to the records
4. Refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution.
F. The Director of Finance, following review of investigation results, will determine whether additional internal contol procedures are needed to reduce the potential for employee misconduct.
G. The County will pursue every reasonable effort, including court ordered restitution, to obtain recovery of County losses from the offender or other appropriate sources.
05.17.07 Management Responsibilities
A. The County will fully investigate any suspected acts of fraud, misappropriation, or other similar irregularity. An objective and impartial investigation will be conducted regardless of the position, title, length of service, or relationship with the County of any party who might be involved in or becomes the subject of such investigation.
B. Each department of the County is responsible for instituting and maintaining a system of internal control to provide reasonable assurance for the prevention and detection of fraud, misappropriation, and other irregularities. Management is responsible for being alert to, and reporting fraudulent or related dishonest activities in their areas of responsibility.
1. Each manager should be familiar with the types of improprieties that might occur in his or her area and be alert for any indication that improper activity, misappropriation, or dishonest activity is or was in existence in his or her area.
2. When an improper activity is detected or suspected, or when a manager receives a report of suspected activity from an employee, the manager shall inform his or her immediate supervisor and/or the Department Head.
3. Management shall support the County’s responsibilities and cooperate fully with other involved departments and law enforcement agencies in the detection, reporting, and investigation of criminal acts, including the prosecution of offenders.
4. In dealing with suspected dishonest or fraudulent activities, great care must be taken. Therefore, management should avoid the following:
a. Incorrect accusations.
b. Alerting suspected individuals that an investigation is underway.
c. Treating employees unfairly.
d. Making statements that could lead to claims of false accusations or other offenses.
5. In handling dishonest or fraudulent activities, management has the responsibility to:
a. Avoid discussing the case, facts, suspicions, or allegations with anyone outside the County, unless specifically directed to do so by the Director of Finance.
b. Avoid discussing the case with anyone inside the County other than employees who have a need to know such as the Director of Finance, County Counsel, Personnel Director or law enforcement personnel.
c. Direct all inquiries from the suspected individual, or his or her representative, to the Director of Finance unless otherwise directed. All inquiries by an attorney of the suspected individual should be directed to County Counsel. All inquiries from the media should be directed to the Director of Finance.