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About Filing a Complaint

The California Whistleblower Protection Act authorizes the California State Auditor to receive complaints from state employees and members of the public who wish to report an improper governmental activity. An "improper governmental activity" is defined as any action by a state agency or any action by a state employee directly related to state government that violates the law, violates an Executive Order of the Governor, violates a Rule of Court, violates the State Administrative Manual or State Contracting Manual, is economically wasteful, or involves gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency. The complaints received by the State Auditor shall remain confidential, and the identity of the complainant may not be revealed without the permission of the complainant, except to an appropriate law enforcement agency conducting a criminal investigation.

Upon receiving a complaint, the State Auditor may conduct an investigation into the facts alleged in the complaint to determine whether an improper governmental activity has occurred. Before launching an investigation, the State Auditor's staff will conduct a careful evaluation of the complaint to determine whether it has enough potential merit to warrant the expenditure of state resources to conduct an investigation. We therefore ask that you keep the following points in mind when filing a complaint:

  • We need a clear and concise statement of what you are alleging is an improper act, why you believe it is improper, and what evidence there is to confirm that what you are saying is true;
  • If you don't provide a name or other information that clearly identifies the person you are alleging to have acted improperly, and the department where that person works, we may not know who to investigate;
  • If you do not identify witnesses or documents that will support what you are saying, we may not be able to verify that what you are saying is true;
  • While you may submit a complaint anonymously, we may not be able to determine whether your complaint has merit if we are not able to interview you;
  • Submitting copies of any documents that will support your complaint is extremely helpful to our evaluation process. However, please submit copies of the documents, rather than the original documents, as they cannot be returned. If we need the original documents we will ask you for them later.

After the State Auditor receives a complaint, any investigation resulting from the complaint is confidential, so the State Auditor's staff cannot provide any updates about what is being done to investigate the complaint or what information has been uncovered. Information about the investigation will not be released unless the State Auditor substantiates that an improper activity has occurred and issues a report about it.

State employees who file a complaint are entitled to protection against retaliation by their employers for filing the complaint.

There are several ways to file a complaint. Prior to filing a complaint, it is a good idea to review the Frequently Asked Questions. For more information on filing a complaint, please see how to File a Complaint.

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