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Policies and Procedures

Finance & Administration

4-OP-C-13 Policy Against Fraudulent, Unethical And Other Dishonest Acts

 

 

Responsible Division: Finance and Administration
Approving Official: Vice President for Finance and Administration
Effective Date: January 1, 2014
Last Revision Date: Unrevised at this time.

 

SPECIFIC AUTHORITY

F.S. 112.311 et seq.
F.S. 1001.706

OBJECTIVE

To guard against fraudulent, unethical and dishonest acts and identify responsibilities for preventing, detecting, reporting, and investigating such.

OVERVIEW

Florida State University, under the governance of its Board of Trustees, is committed to the highest standards of moral and ethical behavior. Breaches of these standards, especially through acts involving fraudulent, unethical and other dishonest behavior, are not only costly, but they tend to erode the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the institution. By issuing this formal policy statement, the University hereby reaffirms its longstanding duty and responsibility to aggressively combat such behavior.

This policy is intended to (1) communicate a "zero tolerance" for fraudulent, unethical and other dishonest activities; (2) institute preventive measures designed to deter these activities or make them easier to detect and stop; (3) provide for the reporting and investigation of such, including providing protection to persons who report violations; and (4) apply to any situation of fraud or suspected fraud involving University employees, students, vendors, contractors, consultants, outside agencies, and/or any other parties with a business relationship with Florida State University or its personnel.

An employee who, in good faith, reports wrongful activity meeting the provisions of Section 112.3187, Florida Statutes (Whistle-blower's Act), is protected against retaliation for making such a report. The law also provides for the individual's identity to remain confidential. Regardless as to whether or not the provisions of the Whistle-blower's Act are met, it is a violation of this policy for anyone to retaliate against another for reporting, in good faith, allegations of wrongdoing or participating in the investigation of such.

A. DEFINITIONS

Fraud generally involves a willful or deliberate act or omission with the intention of obtaining an unauthorized benefit, service, property or something of value by deception, misrepresentation or other unethical or unlawful means. Fraud can be committed through many methods, including mail, wire, telephone and the Internet. Fraudulent, unethical and other dishonest acts may include, but are not limited to:

1.  Forgery or unauthorized alteration of documents or computer records; 

2.  Falsification or misrepresentation of reports to management and external agencies, including time sheets, official travel claims for reimbursement or other expense reimbursement reports; 

3.  Authorizing or receiving payment for time not worked; 

4.  Misappropriation of funds, securities, supplies or other assets; 

5.  Impropriety in handling or reporting of money or financial transactions; 

6.  Engaging in activities that result in a conflict of interest; 

7.  Disclosing confidential or proprietary information to unauthorized individuals; 

8.  Removal of university property, records or other assets from the premises without formal written/documented supervisory approval; 

9.  Unauthorized use or destruction of University property, records or other University assets; 

10.  Taking information and using it or providing the information that would lead to identity theft; 

11.  Use of University property and resources for personal activities; and 

12.  Knowledge that an applicant for Federal Student Aid may have engaged in fraud or criminal misconduct in connection with their application.

B. RESPONSIBILITY FOR DETECTION, REPORTING AND PREVENTION

Administrators and managers at all levels shall set the appropriate tone by displaying the proper attitude toward complying with laws, rules and regulations. Administrators and managers are also responsible for establishing and maintaining proper internal controls that will provide for the security and accountability of the resources entrusted to them. Such controls include, but are not limited to, ensuring that (1) incompatible duties are properly separated, (2) financial transactions are properly authorized and approved, (3) reports of financial activity are periodically reviewed for completeness and accuracy, (4) official personnel actions (ex: appointments, terminations, promotions) and employee time and leave is properly authorized and approved, (5) assets are physically secured, (6) computer passwords are protected and not shared, (7) confidential and sensitive information is protected from unauthorized access and (8) employees are effectively supervised. In addition, administrators shall be cognizant of the risks and exposures inherent in their area of responsibility, take appropriate steps to help mitigate those risks and be aware of the related symptoms of fraudulent, unethical and other dishonest actions.

Employees shall be alert to the possibilities of fraud and for any indication that unethical or dishonest activity is taking place. Any university employee who has knowledge of such activity shall immediately notify their supervisor, the Office of Inspector General Services (OIGS), or if the actions appear to be criminal, the University Police Department. Supervisors who become aware of suspected fraudulent and dishonest activity shall notify the OIGS or, if the actions appear to be criminal, the University Police Department. If the employee has reason to believe that their supervisor may be involved, the employee shall immediately notify the OIGS or the University Police Department, if appropriate. The employee or other complainant may choose to report anonymously by utilizing the University’s third-party hotline, administered by EthicsPoint. In all cases, neither the employee nor the supervisor shall confront the accused individual(s), investigate the suspected activity, or discuss the matter with anyone other than the person or office to whom the activity was reported. Employees who knowingly make false allegations may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Allegations that are investigated and deemed unsubstantiated are not necessarily indicative of false allegations.

Administrators and managers do not have the authority to determine the merits of a report of suspected fraud – the FSU Police or Chief Audit Officer makes this determination.

C. INVESTIGATION

Upon reviewing allegations of fraudulent, unethical or dishonest acts, if the OIGS determines an investigation is warranted, it shall investigate the reported activity after consulting with the University General Counsel's Office, Office of Human Resources or other administrators, as appropriate. In those instances where the investigation by the OIGS indicates criminal activity, the investigation shall immediately be turned over to the University Police Department.

During the investigation, the Constitutional rights of all persons are to be observed. The accused will be afforded the opportunity to respond to the allegations or matters being investigated. The rights of the accused will be safeguarded throughout the investigation.

All employees are to cooperate fully with those performing an investigation pursuant to this policy. An employee who does not fully cooperate with an authorized investigation may be disciplined, up to and including termination of employment. An employee may be required to answer any questions that are within the scope of the employee's employment, whether such questions are asked in an investigation conducted by the OIGS or University Human Resources.

The investigation shall be completed expeditiously and in accordance with established procedures. The results of the investigation conducted by the OIGS shall be communicated, either orally or in writing as determined by the Chief Audit Officer, to Human Resources, the University President or appropriate Vice President or other administrator.

Allegations or matters of conduct deemed outside the scope of this policy, such as supervisory or personnel-related issues, may be referred to the respective area of management or the Office of Human Resources for review and appropriate action.

D. ACTIONS

Employees determined to have participated in fraudulent, unethical or dishonest acts will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with any applicable collective bargaining agreements, and university personnel policies and rules. Such determination must be made with the consultation of the Office of Human Resources. Criminal, civil and/or other administrative actions may also be taken against employees who are found to have participated in unlawful acts. Criminal action falls within the sole purview of local, state or federal law enforcement, prosecuting and judicial authorities. In those instances where disciplinary and/or other administrative action is warranted, the University's Office of Human Resources, or other appropriate office, shall be consulted prior to taking such actions.

Everyone, regardless of classification, who fails to report fraudulent activity, as required by this policy, is subject to disciplinary action.

FORMS

No forms associated with this policy.