Whistleblower Policy

Effective Date: July 1, 2011
Revision Date: January 25, 2017
Responsible Office: Compliance & Equity

I.  Scope

This policy applies to William & Mary, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (the "university"). It applies to all reports about compliance matters (as defined below) made by students and employees of all types (including faculty), volunteers.

This policy does not replace or supersede existing mechanisms such as (for example):

II.  Purpose

The university is committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations as well as university and applicable state policies and procedures. As part of its compliance and ethics program, the university has established the following policy to encourage reporting of unethical behavior or other misconduct. This policy also complies with the Fraud and Whistle Blower Protection Act, Title 2.2, Chapter 30.1 of the Code of Virginia.

III.  Definitions
Compliance matters:
  • failure to comply with applicable federal or state laws, regulations;
  • failure to comply with university policies or procedures; and
  • conflicts of interest, fraud and other ethical breaches by university employees.
Good faith report:

Any report of a compliance matter that is made without malice and that the person making the report has reasonable cause to believe is true.[1]

Report:

Any complaint, allegation, report, or concern of a compliance matter made under this procedure.

IV.  Procedure
A. Making Complaints; Filing Reports.

Employees are encouraged to raise concerns with their immediate supervisor. If the concern is regarding their immediate supervisor, they are encouraged to report to the Compliance Office, Internal Audit or Human Resources as appropriate. Supervisors or other university offices receiving compliance reports should contact the Compliance Office, Internal Audit or Human Resources to determine next steps and should not investigate the matter themselves.

Employees and others are always free to report to the Compliance Office or to one of the following offices, if appropriate:

  • Internal Audit – for complaints regarding fraud, waste, and abuse, or other concerns regarding financial reporting, auditing compliance, internal financial controls.
  • Vice Provost for Research – for complaints regarding research misconduct, grants compliance.
  • Human Resources – for complaints regarding compliance with personnel policies such as processing of leave, performance evaluations and pay.

Reports may be made by phone, email, regular mail or in person to the Compliance Office:

Office of Compliance & Equity
William & Mary
James Blair Hall, First Floor, Suite 110 (secure dropbox available for anonymous reporting)
Williamsburg, VA 23185
[[klboyc@wm.edu, Report a concern]]

Certain reports may also be made to external agencies or regulators. See www.wm.edu/compliance/employeecomplaints/ for a list of reporting mechanisms.

B. Initial Assessment of Reports.

The report will be assessed by the Compliance Office in consultation with appropriate university officials to determine whether it is actionable and whether it should be referred. Examples of non-actionable reports include:

  • Reports regarding conduct over which William & Mary does not have jurisdiction, such as off-campus conduct by an employee outside the scope of his university position.
  • Reports that do not provide enough information.
  • Reports of conduct that occurred more than a year prior. Note that the university may make exceptions to this general rule, depending primarily on the severity of the reported misconduct and the ability of the university to investigate it.
  • Reports that do not, as alleged, present significant compliance concerns.
  • Reports made in bad faith.

Reports that will be referred are those for which there is a dedicated policy or procedure, such as complaints against faculty, which are subject to the Faculty Handbook, or complaints that are more appropriately handled through the university’s processes for discipline or performance management. The Compliance Office will either refer the matter or provide the complainant with information on the appropriate process. (Some processes, such as the state’s grievance procedure, require the complainant to file the complaint him- or herself.) For matters referred internally, the Compliance Office typically will monitor the disposition.

Any report of fraud, waste or abuse will be reviewed by Internal Audit and reported to the state if required under state law.[2]

The initial assessment is not subject to appeal under this procedure.

C. Investigation.

Actionable reports typically will be investigated by the Compliance Office or Internal Audit. Interim measures may be taken to prevention retaliation or to facilitate effective investigation. Investigation findings typically shall be made available to the Provost and Chief Human Resources Officer.

The Compliance Office will work with senior management to ensure that prompt and appropriate corrective action is taken when and as needed, in compliance with any applicable personnel policies.[3] Employees will be given an opportunity to review and respond to relevant evidence prior to any disciplinary action being taken.

Compliance and Internal Audit, with accountability for confidentiality and safeguarding records and information, are authorized full, free and unrestricted access to any and all of the university’s records, physical properties and personnel pertinent to carrying out any investigation. Employees are required to cooperate with any investigation under this procedure.

D. Confidentiality and Protections for Whistleblowers.

Confidentiality will be maintained to the fullest extent possible, consistent with the need to conduct an adequate review. Complaints may be submitted anonymously, but full investigation and remediation of anonymous complaints may not be possible.

The university absolutely prohibits retaliation against any student or employee submitting a complaint in good faith, or from participating in a compliance investigation in good faith. This means, for example, that the university will not discipline, discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, discriminate against or harass any such individual based on their good faith reporting under this procedure.[4] Any retaliation that occurs should be reported promptly to the investigator or Compliance Office.

E. Reporting and Retention of Records of Reports and Investigations.

The Compliance Office will maintain a log of all reports, tracking their receipt, investigation and resolution.

V.  Authority and Amendment

This policy was originally published by the Chief Compliance Officer July 1, 2011. Minor amendments were made in 2012 and 2013. It was amended to provide examples of non-actionable reports, expand the retaliation protection provisions, change the policy name and provide additional detail regarding investigations effective January 25, 2017.

VI.  Related Policies or Other Documents

Code of Ethics
Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline
Compliance Program Charter
Retaliation Guidance (FAQs) (pdf)
Internal Audit Charter
Personnel Policies Relating to Employee Conduct and Discipline:


[1] See Virginia Fraud and Whistle Blower Protection Act, Section 2.2-3010 of the Code of Virginia.

[2] See Section 2.2-310 of the Code of Virginia.

[3] Typically, this will mean that the Compliance Officer forwards or communicates the complaint to the appropriate individual or committee. In some cases, however, the relevant policy or procedure requires that complaints be submitted only to designated individuals, in which case the Compliance Officer will return the complaint to the individual who submitted it and direct them on where (or with whom) to file it. If the complaint was submitted anonymously, the Compliance Officer may be unable to take any action.

[4] This retaliation protection is in compliance with the Virginia Fraud and Whistle Blower Protection Act.