THE CALIFORNIA WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT
The Critical Role of Whistleblowers
Whistleblowers are critical to ensuring government accountability and public safety. Under state law, anyone who reports an improper governmental activity is a whistleblower and is protected from retaliation. An improper governmental activity is any action by a state agency or by a state employee performing official duties that does the following:
- Breaks a state or federal law.
- Is economically wasteful.
- Involves gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency.
- Does not comply with the State Administrative Manual or the State Contracting Manual.
Ways That Whistleblowers Can Report Improper Governmental Activities
Reports can be made by calling the toll-free Whistleblower Hotline (hotline) at (800) 952-5665, by mail, or through the State Auditor's website at www.auditor.ca.gov/contactus/complaint.
Investigation of Reports
The State Auditor confidentially investigates reports of improper governmental activity by state agencies and state employees. The State Auditor may conduct an investigation independently or it may elect to have another state agency perform the confidential investigation under its supervision.
Actions That May Be Taken When the State Auditor Finds Improper Governmental Activities
If an investigation establishes that an improper governmental activity has occurred, the State Auditor may take one or more of the following actions:
- Confidentially report the matter to the Attorney General, the Legislature, law enforcement, or any other entity having jurisdiction over the matter.
- Issue a confidential report to the head of the agency involved or to the entity with authority to take action against the state employee involved.
- Issue a public report on the matter, keeping confidential the identities of the individuals involved.
The State Auditor performs no enforcement functions: this responsibility lies with the appropriate state agency, which is required to regularly notify the State Auditor of any action taken, including disciplinary action, until final action has been taken.
The Protection of Whistleblowers
State law protects state employees who blow the whistle on improper governmental activities. The State Auditor will protect a whistleblower's identity to the maximum extent authorized by law. Retaliation by a state employee against a state employee who files a report is unlawful and may result in monetary penalties and imprisonment.
Corrective Actions Taken in Response to Investigations
The chapters of this report describe the corrective actions that state agencies implemented on certain cases for which the State Auditor completed investigations from July 2017 through June 2018. In addition, Table A summarizes all corrective actions that state agencies took in response to investigations from the time that the State Auditor opened the hotline in July 1993 until June 2018. Furthermore, these investigations have resulted in many state agencies modifying or reiterating their policies and procedures to prevent future improper activities.
|TYPE OF CORRECTIVE ACTION||TOTALS|
|Resignations or retirements while under investigation*||27*|
|Suspensions without pay||32|
Source: State Auditor.
* The State Auditor began tracking resignations and retirements in 2007, so this number includes only those that occurred during investigations since that time.