Confidential reporting of wrongdoing

A new third-party service has been organized to give University of Saskatchewan employees and students a discreet way to report alleged policy breaches, wrongdoing and ethical issues.

By Colleen MacPherson

ConfidenceLine, a 24-houra- day, seven-day-a-week phone or online service, is part of the university's antifraud program that includes new fraud-deterrence and safe-disclosure policies, explained Beth Williamson, university secretary. The reporting service, essentially a whistleblower hotline, "will allow people to feel free to communicate any good faith concerns they have."

Such reporting services are considered best practice in both the public and private sector, she said.

ConfidenceLine complements a number of existing channels people can use to draw attention to professional, financial or other irregularities or wrongdoing, said Williamson. These include contacting Protective Services, Audit Services, Human Resources, Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services and even Williamson's office, depending on the nature of the alleged breach.

"But ConfidenceLine is for people who may feel they're unable to report through those channels," she said. "And that reluctance may be because of a fear of reprisals or because they have reported something elsewhere that has not been addressed.

"We chose a third-party provider so people wouldn't feel that their concerns are being filtered through some university office," she continued. "I don't want to suggest we would do that but ConfidenceLine provides complete confidentiality and anonymity if people so choose."

The provider offers translation services into a number of languages; online reports can be made in either English or French.

Once a concern is raised, ConfidenceLine personnel will share the details with one of the university's safe disclosure officers—Al Novakowski from Audit Services or Greg Thorimbert from Financial Reporting— who will follow up and refer the matter to the appropriate internal authority or office, Williamson said. Each investigation will be consistent with existing policies but "the more information you can provide (in making a report), the more thorough the investigation."

The university is committed to timely responses to all disclosures, she said, to recommendations for corrective action or measures where wrongdoing is determined, and to reporting the outcomes of investigations using established protocols.

Williamson said there is no way yet to judge the success of ConfidenceLine. "I hope there are not a lot of breaches reported but I also hope people feel the system is one they can trust if they ever have to."

Reports can be made to ConfidenceLine by calling 1-844-966-3250 or going to