Time for whistleblower policies

March 21, 2011

Daily News reports that in response to the bonus kickback scandal that led to the arrest of its sheriff and several high-ranking officials in his office, Okaloosa County officials have developed a whistleblower policy. The new policy makes it possible for employees and residents to report fraud and other suspected violations of the law to the county without fear of retribution. (Read more)

During the conduct of its study of Escambia County in 2009, TaxWatch reported that it had received a call alleging an instance of retaliation for reporting the misuse of County resources (as well as additional wasteful spending and management practices). The watchdog group stated in its report: “In situations such as this one, employees become fearful for their jobs and it can be challenging to investigate such instances while maintaining the confidence and anonymity of the whistleblower.”

If they don’t already have them, the Escambia County Commission and it Constitutional Officers, as well as ECUA, School Board and Pensacola City Council, should have such a policy. Based on our recent investigations of problems inside the public schools, we know that teachers, non-instructional staff and students are afraid of retribution if they come forward.

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