New EthicsPoint service aims to deter campus corruption

Managing Editor and Managing Editor

A new outlet is available for whistle-blowers and watchdogs to report wrongdoings and keep University practices in check.

The University recently hired EthicsPoint, a phone and Internet-based reporting system, to “help create and foster the best possible work environment for all employees,” according to an email statement from University President Mary Ellen Mazey.

The anonymous compliance and tip hotline will help community members address issues, ask questions or offer suggestions for improvement, said Jim Lambert, director of Internal Auditing and Advisory Services.

Anyone can use the service at any time by calling 1-866-879-0426 or visiting the EthicsPoint website. The caller will then be given password-protected access to the case, so it can be followed through to resolution.

“Whether someone is trying to understand a policy or address a concern … we want to give them a voice,” Lambert said. “An effective hotline system allows people to be more comfortable in an ethical workplace, so a lot of positives will come from it. We’re excited.”

EthicsPoint costs $5,100 and all funds are allocated from Internal Auditing.

The University has had a similar anonymous hotline service for several years, but decided to hire EthicsPoint in October because it offers anonymity and more efficient services, Lambert said.

“EthicsPoint is an industry-leading, third party managed hotline that offers us a better way to manage and track any tips or issues through resolution,” he said. “We’re really excited because it’s an upgrade from our previous system.”

Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country currently use EthicsPoint’s services.

Ohio University has used EthicsPoint since February 2006 and has received 44 reports from it, two which resulted in prosecution, said Kathryn Gilmore, OU’s chief audit executive.

“We have gotten really good results from using EthicsPoint, and we’re very satisfied with it,” Gilmore said. “It serves as a deterrent to fraud and is a good way for people to ask questions when they aren’t comfortable with going directly to their supervisor. I’m definitely a proponent of it.”

Members of the University’s faculty union, however, have not declared a stance for or against EthicsPoint’s services at the University.

David Jackson, Faculty Association president, released an email statement to Mazey shortly after the announcement that EthicsPoint would be used.

“[We have] not yet taken a position on the use of EthicsPoint, simply because we do not have enough information to make any kind of determination,” he said in the email. “You presumably knew that the establishment of an anonymous tip hotline was on the horizon when you lamented the lack of trust at BGSU at the most recent Faculty Senate meeting. Clearly, a thorough explanation is now both warranted and urgently needed.”

Mazey released a clarifying statement later that afternoon via email.

“As you may remember, BGSU has had a tip hotline in place for some time,” she said in the email. “In order to provide a higher degree of privacy for the individual reporting a concern, we decided to change our approach and begin to use a third-party provider.”

Andy Schocket, Faculty Association communications director, called the switch a “surprise.”

The faculty union will address EthicsPoint at upcoming bargaining sessions in hopes of “having a bigger hand in shaping the process,” he said.

“On one hand, people should have some kind of way of recording things without fear of reprisal,” Schocket said. “We recognize that’s something large institutions need, but we have no information about who will receive those complaints, how they will be used, or what sort of due process, if any, goes along with them. There are a lot of different facets of faculty life that this could impact, and we need more information before we can really take a stance.”