SUNY's Fraud Policy
The SUNY Board of Trustees adopted a Fraud Policy at its March 2013 Board Meeting. The Fraud policy helps to set the tone of the organization and communicate to all employees the requirement for honest behavior, ethical conduct, and fiduciary oversight with SUNY funds, resources, and property. At this meeting, the Board of Trustee's also amended the existing Fraud Procedure. The impact of this new Fraud Policy and the Fraud Procedure changes are outlined below.
SUNY already maintains a System-wide Fraud Hotline to Report Suspected Fraud, but this new policy ensures that those reporting to the Fraud hotline will have whistleblower protection afforded to them. Also, through the revised procedure, campuses will be required to report all frauds to the Office of University Audit so they may be tracked and monitored by the Fraud Committee using a standard form, and report to the Office of the University Auditor any contact from the New York State Attorney General, the Inspector General, or any other outside agency regarding any investigation. In addition, each campus is required to establish a mechanism (fraud hotline) such as a toll free number, e-mail address, or facsimile number that individuals can use to report suspected and detected fraud and irregularities.
FRAUD POLICY WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION
NOTICE ON CONFIDENTIALITY
FRAUD PROCEDURE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES
As part of the revised fraud procedure, System Administration and each campus is required to identify an individual to whom suspected or detected fraud and irregularities must be reported. In addition, System Administration and each campus is required to establish an easily accessible mechanism (fraud hotline) such as a toll free number, e-mail address, or facsimile number that individuals can use to report suspected or detected fraud and irregularities. Furthermore, campuses are required to report any suspected or detected fraud to the Office of the University Auditor at System Administration.
FRAUD POLICY AND PROCEDURE LANGUAGE
Summary: The State University of New York (SUNY) is committed to upholding the highest standard of honest behavior, ethical conduct, and fiduciary responsibility with respect to SUNY funds, resources, and property. As such, SUNY seeks to prevent and detect any fraud or irregularities and will diligently pursue any instance that involves SUNY-related activities or business.
Policy: It is the policy of SUNY that all members of the SUNY community:
It is the policy of SUNY that employees and individuals who lawfully report suspected fraud, waste, or abuse shall not suffer discharge, demotion, suspension, threats, harassment, discrimination, or other forms of retaliation for making such reports.
Definitions: Fraud and irregularities include activities that are (1) a misappropriation of assets; (2) in violation of or non-compliant with any SUNY, New York State, or federal law, regulation, policy or procedure; (3) economically wasteful; (4) an indication of gross misconduct or incompetency; or (5) an unethical, improper, or dishonest act.
Summary: These procedures set forth the State University of New York’s (SUNY) procedures for reporting and reviewing suspected or detected fraud and irregularities. These procedures apply to any fraud and irregularities involving SUNY employees, officers or trustees, and campus-related entities, as well as vendors, consultants, contractors, funding sources, or any other parties with a relationship to SUNY. All complaints will be reviewed objectively and without regard to the suspected individual’s length of service, position, title, or relationship with SUNY.
A. Applicability of These Procedures
These procedures cover activities at SUNY State-operated and statutory campuses, auxiliary services corporations, alumni associations, student associations and governments, campus foundations, and other campus-related entities.
All members of the SUNY community are expected to promptly report any known or suspected fraud and irregularities. System Administration and each campus is required to identify an individual to whom suspected or detected fraud and irregularities must be reported. In addition, each campus is required to establish a mechanism (fraud hotline) such as a toll free number, e-mail address, or facsimile number that individuals can use to report suspected and detected fraud and irregularities. The fraud hotline must be readily accessible and provide the option of reporting anonymously. Campuses and System Administration are further required to report any suspected or detected fraud to the Office of the University Auditor at System Administration using Form A.
C. Types of Activities Covered
For the purpose of these procedures, fraud and irregularities includes activities that are (1) a misappropriation of assets; (2) in violation of or non-compliant with any SUNY, New York State, or federal law, regulation, policy or procedure; (3) economically wasteful; (4) an indication of gross misconduct or incompetency; or (5) an unethical, improper, or dishonest act. Examples of improprieties include, but are not limited to, the following:
D. Activities Covered Under Other Policies and Protocols
Activities described above that may constitute fraud or irregularities may also be covered by existing policies and procedures on specialized topics. Such activities may still be reported under this policy, but will be referred for handling to the extent such other procedures exist. Examples of such policies include:
II. Process for Reporting Detected or Suspected Fraud and Irregularities
All members of the SUNY community are expected to report any known or suspected fraud or irregularities. Generally, an individual may discuss the concern directly with a supervisor; however, if the individual is not comfortable speaking with the supervisor, the individual is not satisfied with the supervisor’s response, or the individual does not have a supervisor (such as a trustee or student), the individual may report the concern to the campus’ designated officer, any campus fraud hotline, or SUNY’s System Administration fraud hotline.
Individuals who want to report suspected fraud or irregularities directly to SUNY System Administration may utilize the fraud hotline maintained by the Office of the University Auditor. These individuals may report in the following ways:
Fax: (518) 320-1564
Voice mail: (518) 320-1539
Mail: University Auditor, State University Plaza,
Albany, NY 12246
Individuals have the option of either providing contact information or reporting the information anonymously. While not required, providing contact information will enable the reviewer to contact the individual to clarify the information being provided. At a minimum, individuals should provide key information such as a description of the incident; individual(s) involved; and financial loss, if any. When requested, SUNY will make every effort to handle all information received confidentially, to the extent permitted by law. Consistent with New York State laws, employees or other persons who lawfully report suspected improprieties shall not suffer discharge, demotion, suspension, threats, harassment, discrimination, or other retaliation as a result of making such report.
Campuses and System Administration are required to forward a report to the Office of the University Auditor when sufficient facts and circumstances exist to create a reasonable suspicion that a fraud or irregularity has occurred, or where a review of the incident has commenced. The report should include key information such as a description of the incident; individual(s) involved; financial loss, if any; and applicable rules, regulations, and procedures (see Form A – Fraud Incident Report). The Campus must also report to the Office of the University Auditor any contact from the New York State Attorney General, the Inspector General, or any other outside agency regarding any investigation. Pending the Committee’s review of the matter, campuses and System Administration should work with counsel and the Office of the University Auditor to determine appropriate action.
III. Process for Reviewing Detected or Suspected Improprieties
A. Initial Review and Determination of Appropriate Action
Each Fraud Incident Report, as well as any relevant communication received through the fraud hotline (or other method), will be reviewed by the SUNY Fraud Committee (Committee). The Committee is coordinated by the Office of the University Auditor and includes representation from several offices within System Administration. The specific roles of each office represented on the Committee are as follows:
The Committee will review each report or complaint to determine what action, if any, should be taken. These actions may include (1) contacting the campus, System Administration, or the complainant for additional information, (2) initiating a review into the matter, or (3) referring the matter to an outside agency such as the New York State Attorney General, Inspector General, or law enforcement. Reviews may be conducted individually or jointly by the Office of the University Auditor, campus internal audit departments, campus staff, or externally, by an independent auditor, consultant, other State agency or an outside law enforcement agency. Generally, appropriate campus personnel will be involved in the reviews relating to campus activities.
B. Review Process
The objectives of the review are to verify the information provided, determine responsibility, identify improvement opportunities, and determine if the matter warrants reporting to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The review process may include interviewing the individual filing the complaint (unless the individual chooses to remain anonymous), campus employees, System Administration officials, and others, as appropriate; reviewing documentation submitted with the complaint; obtaining and reviewing other relevant documentation; and reviewing applicable laws, rules, regulations, and policies. Every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality throughout the investigation to the extent permitted by law; however, it cannot be guaranteed.
Upon SUNY’s completion of its review, a determination will be made as to whether the review has resulted in sufficient evidence to show a violation of law, regulation, policy or procedure; or fraud or irregularities may have occurred. If the results of the review rise to the level of sufficient evidence, the results may be forwarded to a law enforcement agency for further action, as appropriate. University Counsel will work with the campus, when appropriate, to take the necessary steps to make a referral to the appropriate entity (local district attorney, Office of the Attorney General, Inspector General, etc.). Disciplinary procedures, if any, are initiated by the chief administrative officer, or designee, at each campus. Such disciplinary actions should be initiated in consultation with the Office of Employee Relations.
The Committee will report the matter, as appropriate, to the Office of the New York State Inspector General, in accordance with New York State Executive Law Article 4-A, Section 55, and the Office of the New York State Comptroller, in accordance with Volume XI, Section 7.0200 of the New York State Accounting System User Procedure Manual. The Office of the University Auditor will periodically provide reports to the Audit Committee of the SUNY Board of Trustees regarding the number of reports and complaints, results of any reviews, and a description of those matters that resulted in known fraud or irregularities.
The affected campus will be informed of the results of the review and any decisions and recommendations made by the Committee. In addition, any improvement opportunities related to policies, procedures, or control activities that were identified during the review will be shared with appropriate campus officials.
New York State Labor Law § 740 (whistleblower protection)
New York State Civil Service Law § 75-b (whistle blower protection)
New York State Executive Law Article 4-A § 55 (reporting to Inspector General)
New York State Finance Law § 8 (duties of the State Comptroller)
New York State Public Officer’s Law §73, §73a, and §74 (business related activities, financial disclosure, and code of ethics)
New York State Accounting User Procedures Manual, Volume XI, Section 7.0200 (reporting to the State Comptroller)
Memorandum to Presidents from the Senior Vice Chancellor, dated November 22, 1993, establishing protocol with regard to fraud investigations and audits that affect SUNY.