The Why, What and How of the Reporting HelpLine

Why do we need a reporting system?

An effective reporting system that includes a mechanism for anonymous reporting is one element of an effective compliance program. It provides employees with a way to report without fear of retaliation. By creating open channels of communication, we can promote a positive work environment, continually improve our culture of compliance, and support our shared values identified in "Our Common Ground."

May I report using either the Internet, telephone or text message?

Yes, you have the ability to file a report by either calling, reporting online or via text. Calls and text messages are processed through our third party vendor, Convercent.

Phone: (800) 461-9330

Text: (802) 441-6649

Internet: https://www.uvm.edu/compliance/helpline

 

How do I report by text?

  1. Send a text message to (802) 441-6649 saying Hi, Hello or any other word.
  2. You will receive a message asking you reply “report” to confirm that you want to submit a concern.Example text message comfirming that you want to submit a report.
  3. Next, you will need to respond to a series of automated questions regarding your concern.
  4. When your submission is complete, you will receive a confirmation, access number and password so that you can access your report online.
    Text message confirming your report has been submitted.

 

What type of situations should I report?

You can report any violation of your Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards, any other compliance concern, or violations to any University Policy or UOP. The reporting portal identifies a number of types of issues that may be reported. You may want to visit UVM’s Institutional Policies webpage and review applicable policies prior to reporting.

The reporting system web interface or trained phone representative will walk you through the reporting process by identifying the broader categorie; however, if you cannot find the specific issue you want to report, we recommend that you report using the issue type "other". Please provide as much specific information in your report as possible, but don't feel you need "all the facts" to file a report.

Are there any matters that should not be reported through this system?

Academic Integrity matters or, student conduct issues, should not be reported through this system. Academic integrity matters should be reported to the Center for Student Ethics and Standards via the Academic Integrity Referral Form (opens in new window). Student conduct matters should be reported to the Center for Student Ethics & Standards via their Incident Report Form (opens in new window).

DO NO USE THIS SYSTEM to report events or situations that present an immediate threat to life or property. Instead, call 9-1-1 in the event of an immediate safety threat, obvious criminal activity or other emergency.

Additionally, the system should not be used to address employee dissatisfaction. Employee disputes or grievances should follow established channels such as the Grievance Policy for Non-Represented Staff or the applicable bargaining unit's contract provisions.

If I see a violation, shouldn't I just report it to my manager or other appropriate office and let them deal with it?

The HelpLine is always available to you. When you observe some behavior that you believe violates our Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards or other University Policy or Procedure, we encourage you to report it. Ideally, you should bring any concerns forward to your direct supervisor or you may use other existing channels for reporting specific issues as identified by University Policy. We recognize, however, that there may be circumstances when you are not comfortable reporting the issue in this manner. We would rather you report through this reporting system than keep the information to yourself. You can always choose to report anonymously; however, you are expected to tell someone.

Does the Reporting HelpLine replace existing reporting channels?

No, the Ethics and Compliance Reporting HelpLine supplements many existing reporting channels but other reporting channels still exist such as reporting to a manager or supervisor, reporting to a Labor and Employee Relations representative, reporting to a member of senior leadership, or reporting directly to the Office of Compliance Services.

Why should I report what I know? What's in it for me?

We all have the right to work in a positive environment and with that right comes the responsibility of acting in an ethical manner and letting the appropriate people know if someone is not acting appropriately. By working together, we can maintain a healthy and positive environment. Misconduct can pose a serious threat to the University.

Does management really want me to report?

Management encourages reports so that possible violations of policy and law may be addressed appropriately and promptly.

Isn't this system just an example of someone watching over me?

The Ethics and Compliance Reporting HelpLine concentrates on being a positive element of UVM's compliance program, and allows the University to afford all members of its community a workplace that is healthy and safe and one that operates ethically and with integrity. You are encouraged to seek guidance on ethical dilemmas, provide positive suggestions, or communicate a concern. Effective communication is critical to our University workplace and this is a great tool to enhance that communication.

We have carefully chosen the best reporting tool to meet our compliance obligations while maintaining a positive reporting environment.

What happens when I make a report?

The University has contracted with Convercent, an external company with experience in managing compliance and ethics reporting lines. This company manages the intake of all phone, internet, and text message reports. Once received, reports are routed to the HelpLine Leadership Team (HLT). The HLT reviews the reports, identifies issues, and makes the appropriate referrals. The HLT is comprised of four individuals, one each from Audit Services, Compliance Services, General Counsel, and the President's Office. All reports are reviewed by the vendor to first determine whether any members of the HLT are named in a report. If so, they are excluded from the routing. Once received by the HLT, it is again reviewed to make sure that internal referrals are not made to anyone named in the report. Internal referrals will generally follow a predetermined referral matrix that follows University procedure and guidance. For example, an allegation of discriminatory behavior would likely be referred to the Office of Affirmative Action and an allegation of misuse of university resources may be referred to the Office of Audit Services. Once a report is referred, the receiving office is responsible to follow their own internal protocols for investigating and reporting on the issue(s). The appropriate level of management will then respond with corrective action as necessary to address the findings. The HLT then reviews the final outcome of each referral, including management's actions and any corrective action plans, before closing out the report. Reporters will be able to anonymously view the status of the report, including when a report has been received, when it has been referred and when it has been closed.

How do I follow up with more information or hear about the outcome of a report?

When you file a report using the Ethics and Compliance Reporting HelpLine, you will create a password and set up a security question. After the report is submitted, you will receive an access number to include with your password when checking the status of your case either online or by telephone.

You won’t be able to change your report after it has been submitted. However, you will be able to add additional details using message boards.

Status updates regarding when the report has been received, referred and closed will be posted to the system for you to view with your password and access number created upon making the initial report. Due to the confidential nature of personnel matters, we are unable to share specific information about results of investigations when/if it contains personnel information. However, if upon closure of a report you continue observe inappropriate behavior, we encourage you to make an additional report.

 

 

Confidentiality Issues

Will the Convercent system server log identify me through my work computer's address as a report originator?

Convercent does not generate or maintain any internal connection logs with IP addresses, so no information linking your computer to Convercent is available. In fact, Convercent is contractually committed not to pursue a reporter's identity.

If you feel uncomfortable making a report on your work computer, you have the option of using a computer outside our work environment (such as one located at an Internet café, library, etc.) through the Convercent secure website or you can call or text using a smartphone.

Can I file a report from home and still remain anonymous?

Yes, a report from home or any Internet portal will remain secure and anonymous. An Internet portal never identifies a visitor by screen name and the Convercent system strips away Internet addresses so that anonymity is totally maintained.

I am concerned that the information I provide theEthics and Compliance Reporting HelpLine will ultimately reveal my identity. How can you assure me that will not happen?

We can keep reports as confidential as possible; however, nobody can guarantee anonymity 100% of the time. It’s just not possible. It is true that during an investigation, sometimes the identity of a reporter becomes known. Depending on the nature of the violation, there are times when we are required by law to turn reports over to law enforcement. However, the Convercent system accepts anonymous reports and we maintain the highest level of confidentiality throughout our investigatory process. You should also take steps to ensure that the body of the report does not reveal your identity by accident. For example, "From my office next to Joe Smith…" or "In my 33 years in xx department…".

If you choose to remain anonymous keep in mind that certain types of reports may be difficult to fully investigate and it is critical that you continue to check back in especially if you reported anonymously.

If I choose to identify myself, how will I be protected?

Members of the HLT will maintain confidentiality of reporters as much as they are able to throughout the investigative process; however, anonymity of reporters cannot be guaranteed. Reporters should be assured that University management takes the whistle blower protections in the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards (pdf), the Whistleblower Policy (pdf), and other University policies very seriously. Retaliation against a reporter is, in itself, a serious and reportable offense.

What if my supervisor or other manager is involved in the violation? Will they get a copy of the report?

Conflict screening is built into the responding process. Initially Convercent ensures that any individual identified in a report will not be notified nor have access to the report. The HLT that make report referrals perform additional conflicts screening to ensure the report will not be referred to a party that has a conflict or is cited in the report. All responders are trained in how to handle HelpLine reports and this training includes the importance of anonymity and maintaining confidentiality.

Are there confidentiality protections regarding the person a report is about?

Members of the HLT and assigned investigators maintain confidentiality throughout their investigative process to the extent that they can do so while completing the review. All reports are shared with the minimum number of individuals necessary to complete the review and all involved individuals are apprised of the confidential nature of reviews. All reports are treated as allegations only. No actions will be taken before conclusion of an investigation unless temporary measures are necessary to address immediate institutional concerns as to personal safety or the protection of property.

 

Still have a question? Feel free to contact Compliance Services at (802)-656-3086