As referenced in the Regional Center of Orange County’s (RCOC) Whistleblower Policy, the following procedures are for the filing, receipt, retention, investigation, and treatment of whistleblower complaints received by the RCOC.
Regional centers are contractually required to have a Board approved Whistleblower Policy, Article I, Section 18, of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) contract with regional centers. Improper regional center activity and improper vendor/contractor activity is defined in the DDS’ contract with regional centers as:
- An “improper regional center activity” means an activity by a regional center, or an employee, officer, or board member of a regional center, in the conduct of regional center business, that is a violation of a state or federal law or regulation; violation of contract provisions; fraud or fiscal malfeasance; misuse of government property; or constitutes gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency.
- An “improper vendor/contractor activity” means an activity by a vendor/contractor, or an employee, officer, or board member of a vendor/contractor, in the provision of DDS funded services, that is a violation of a state or federal law or regulation; violation of contract provisions; fraud or fiscal malfeasance; misuse of government property; or constitutes gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency.
- Form To Use For Whistleblower Complaints
- Content of Whistleblower Complaints
To assist RCOC in the response or investigation of a complaint, the complaint should be factual rather than speculative, and contain as much specific information as possible to allow for proper assessment of the nature, extent and urgency of the matter that is the subject of the complaint. It is unlikely that RCOC will be able to conduct an investigation based on a complaint that contains unspecified wrongdoing or broad allegations without verifiable evidentiary support. Without limiting the foregoing, the complaint should, to the extent possible, contain the following information:
- The alleged event, matter or issue that is the subject of the complaint,
- The name(s) of the person(s) involved,
- If the complaint involves a specific event or events, the approximate time and location of each event, and
- Any additional information, documentation or other evidence available to support the whistleblower complaint.
- Where to Submit Whistleblower Complaints
Whistleblower complaints may be filed by contacting, or submitting the written complaint form to, RCOC’s Executive Management Team, RCOC’s Board of Directors’ Executive Committee, members of RCOC’s Board of Directors, RCOC’s Corporate Counsel or the Department of Developmental Services as outlined in the Whistleblower Policy.
However, to ensure proper and timely logging and investigation, it is recommended that whistleblower complaints be submitted to the Custodian of Records as described below. If a whistleblower complaint is received by someone other than the Custodian of Records, it will be sent to the Custodian of Records via one of the methods noted below.
A person with a whistleblower complaint should promptly report it in writing to RCOC’s Custodian of Records.
Complaints may be submitted:
Address envelope to:
Custodian of Records
PO Box 22010
Santa Ana, CA 92701-2010
By inter-office mail
Place the written complaint in an inter-office mail envelope and address it to the attention of Custodian of Records
Send to Custodian of Records at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each whistleblower complaint shall be logged on the Whistleblower Complaint Tracking Form by the Custodian of Records. The person forwarding a complaint to the Custodian of Records shall note on the complaint:
- the date of receipt, and
- the date of submission to Custodian of Records.
All whistleblower complaints will be kept confidential to the extent practicable within the legitimate needs of law and any ensuing evaluation or investigation.
- Retention of Whistleblower Complaints
All whistleblower complaints shall be kept in a whistleblower complaint file under the control of the Custodian of Records. The whistleblower complaints and the supporting documentation shall be maintained for a period of five (5) years.
- Treatment and Investigation of Whistleblower Complaints
A copy of all whistleblower complaints shall be presented to RCOC’s Executive Management Team (i.e., Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Clinical Officer) and Executive Committee of the RCOC Board of Directors at its next regularly scheduled meeting unless the nature of the complaint dictates otherwise. All complaints will be reviewed and investigated under the direction of the Executive Management Team and Executive Committee. The Executive Management Team and Executive Committee shall designate the Custodian of Records to record the complaint on the Whistleblower Complaint Tracking Form and to periodically update the form regarding the status of the actions being taken concerning the complaint. The whistleblower complaints will be investigated promptly in a manner that is as discreet as the circumstances permit.
Normally the Custodian of Records will investigate the complaint; however, the Executive Management Team and Executive Committee reserve the authority to name another individual to perform an investigation if circumstances make it appropriate to do so. The individual conducting the investigation shall gather such documents and materials, and interview such individuals, as reasonably necessary to complete the investigation. The results of any investigation conducted pursuant to this policy shall be reported to the Executive Management Team and Executive Committee. The Executive Management Team and Executive Committee shall have the authority to, at any time request a briefing regarding any investigation of a complaint and/or findings regarding a whistleblower complaint. Upon completion of the investigation, the Executive Management Team and Executive Committee shall review the results and determine the corrective action, if any, to be taken in response to a whistleblower complaint and to direct additional investigation of any whistleblower complaint. All documents and materials compiled during the investigation shall be retained with the whistleblower complaint.
At the conclusion, the Executive Management Team and Executive Committee shall direct a designated person to prepare a written response to the whistleblower complaint. Upon completion of the written response, it shall be submitted to the Executive Management Team and Executive Committee for review and approval prior to sending it to the complainant. A copy of the response letter shall be maintained with the whistleblower complaint and documentation compiled during the investigation. Upon completion of these procedures, the Whistleblower Complaint form and Whistleblower Complaint Tracking form will be updated.
RCOC shall maintain the confidentiality of the person(s) making the whistleblower complaint to the extent practicable within the legitimate needs of law and of any ensuing evaluation or investigation. Legal or business requirements may not allow for complete anonymity. Also, in some cases it may not be possible to proceed with or properly conduct an investigation unless the complainant identifies himself or herself. In general it is unlikely that an investigation will be initiated in response to an anonymous complaint due to the difficulty of interviewing anonymous complainants and evaluating the credibility of their whistleblower complaints. In addition, persons making complaints should be cautioned that their identity might become known for reasons outside the control of RCOC. The identity of other persons subject to or participating in any inquiry or investigation relating to a whistleblower complaint shall be maintained in confidence subject to the same limitations.
- Protections from Retaliation
Retaliation against an individual, who, in good faith, has made a whistleblower complaint, disclosed information relating to a whistleblower complaint, or otherwise participated in an investigation relating to a whistleblower complaint, is prohibited regardless of the outcome of the investigation. RCOC shall not discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass or in any manner discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment based upon any lawful actions of such employee with respect to good faith reporting of whistleblower complaints or participation in a related investigation. An employee’s right to protection from retaliation does not extend immunity for any complicity in the matters that are the subject of the whistleblower complaint or an ensuing investigation.
This policy also prohibits deliberately making a false report. This is not meant to discourage or limit the rights of individuals making reports of alleged violations. RCOC recognizes that, in some instances, it may not be possible to determine whether a report is warranted. Employees should not be reluctant to report information because they are uncertain of who will be believed and whether the allegation can be proved.
These procedures are in no way intended to limit the right of employees to report alleged violations to proper governmental and regulatory authorities.
- Procedure Accessibility
Internally, employees have access to this procedure through RCOC’s Intranet. On the right side of the website, is a section titled “Whistleblower Policy and Procedures.” Under this section is an item titled “Whistleblower Procedures.” Click on “Whistleblower Procedures” and the document will appear on the desktop in Adobe format. The document includes the Whistleblower Complaint Form, which is also attached as Exhibit A.