After months of planning the City of Lubbock launched it’s public fraud, waste, and abuse hotline on Friday. Using this online hotline, the public will now be able to report city employees who are behaving inappropriately.
The hotline can be found on the City of Lubbock website under the City Manager tab. Anyone can report on the website and you can choose whether to identify yourself or to file a report anonymously. The city’s Internal Audit Department, who is responsible for the hotline, confirms that with the hotline system, anonymous users cannot even be tracked through their IP addresses.
“We take very seriously our responsibility in managing tax dollars, and so if those are not being spent correctly we want to hear about that,” explained Jeff McKito, Public Information Officer for the City of Lubbock. “Or if there’s someone who’s stealing those funds, it not only hurts us but it also hurts the citizens, it costs us more money to take care of those things.”
“Allegations of theft, of embezzlement of waste, those are the things we would like to hear about,” said McKito,
McKito explained that citizens who report on the new hotline will be able to track the status of their report through a report ID number. That report will go to a third party contractor called Ethical Advocate. The Department of Internal Audit will record those reports and send them to whichever city department the complaint is directed at.
The city’s fraud hotline has actually been open to the city’s roughly 2,200 employees since November.
The city of Lubbock said that so far, only two employees have filed reports about other employees through the hotline
“This hotline is something that we don’t expect to hear something on it every day, that would mean serious problems,” McKito said. “This is the opportunity for employees and for the public if they see something serious happen, to give us a report of that and have us further investigate.”
The City of Lubbock explained to EverythingLubbock.com in 2015 that in the past city employees were caught for various types of fraud and waste, including falsifying time cards and stealing metal.
The City hopes residents will report events like theft and dishonesty, as well as OSHA violations, or abuses of power. Complete definitions of fraud, waste, and abuse violations are available on the hotline website.
Ramesh Ganesh, director of Internal Audit for the City of Lubbock said that the goal of this hotline is to hold city employees accountable. He explained that some departments, including the city’s fleet department, have already expressed concern that city employees might misuse city vehicles. He hopes the hotline helps to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used properly in the city’s hands.
Ganesh reiterated that the city will investigate every complaint that comes through the hotline and reminded the public not to use the hotline to make frivolous complaints.
“If someone is going to file a complaint, you have to put adequate information into that complaints so it can be investigated,” Ganesh explained.
Now that the hotline is live, city employees are just waiting for the public to start filing reports.
“If you see fraud, if you see abuse, if you see waste, please report it let us know about it so we can investigate it and take care of it,” McKito said.