Whistling While They Work

Whistling While They Work: A good-practice guide for managing internal reporting of wrongdoing in public sector organisations

Peter Roberts
A. J. Brown
Jane Olsen
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: ANU Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hcvb
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  • Book Info
    Whistling While They Work
    Book Description:

    This guide sets out results from four years of research into how public sector organisations can better fulfil their missions, maintain their integrity and value their employees by adopting a current best-practice approach to the management of whistleblowing. This guide focuses on: the processes needed for public employees and employees of public contractors to be able to report concerns about wrongdoing in public agencies and programs; and managerial responsibilities for the support, protection and management of those who make disclosures about wrongdoing, as part of an integrated management approach. The guide is designed to assist with the special systems needed for managing 'public interest' whistleblowing-where the suspected or alleged wrongdoing affects more than the personal or private interests of the person making the disclosure. As the guide explains, however, an integrated approach requires having good systems for managing all types of reported wrongdoing-including personal, employment and workplace grievances-not least because these might often be interrelated with 'public interest' matters.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-31-1
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. ABOUT THE AUTHORS
    (pp. 7-7)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. 7-7)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 8-16)

    This guide sets out results from four years of research into how public sector organisations can better fulfil their missions, maintain their integrity and value their employees by adopting a current best practice approach to the management of whistleblowing.

    Whistleblowing is the ‘disclosure by organisation members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organisations that may be able to effect action’ (Miceli and Near 1984). This guide focuses especially on

    the processes needed for public employees and employees of public contractors to be able to report concerns about wrongdoing...

  6. A. ORGANISATIONAL COMMITMENT
    (pp. 17-35)

    Legislative provisions and black-letter procedures can go only so far in creating an effective whistleblower reporting and protection regime. The research has shown that an essential ingredient in any whistleblowing program is the commitment from each organisation to encourage reporting, act on the reports where appropriate and to protect reporters from any adverse consequences.

    Organisational commitment also has a specific meaning in organisational psychology. In the range of attitudes studied in organisational behaviour, organisational commitment sits beside job satisfaction and job involvement as ‘a state in which an employee identifies with a particular organisation and its goals, and wishes to...

  7. B. FACILITATING REPORTING
    (pp. 36-51)

    Encouraging the reporting of wrongdoing is the first major objective of any whistleblowing program. Although a considerable amount of reporting of possible wrongdoing by public employees occurs, there is considerable evidence of the reticence of employees to report, or to do so in a timely fashion. Some of this reticence might relate to deficiencies in formal systems, including the complexity and lack of comprehensiveness of formal whistleblowing legislation. These factors are barriers to the establishment of an ‘if in doubt, report’ culture within organisations and the general public sector (Brown et al. 2008a:261–8).

    More pervasive problems relate to the...

  8. C. ASSESSMENT AND INVESTIGATION OF REPORTS
    (pp. 52-72)

    Competent investigation of whistleblowing reports followed by an effective response is a key objective of any whistleblowing program. Responses rely on effective assessment of what the disclosure is about, so that it can be handled in the most appropriate way. Several key elements are needed to ensure these processes are in place. These include comprehensive agency systems for recording and tracking employee reports of wrongdoing and improved basic training for public sector managers on how to recognise and respond to possible public interest disclosures (Brown and Wheeler 2008:304–6). There is also a need to preserve and manage confidentiality, to...

  9. D. INTERNAL WITNESS SUPPORT AND PROTECTION
    (pp. 73-99)

    Support and protection of whistleblowers form the third—and arguably most important—objective of any whistleblowing program. The provision of organisational support to whistleblowers is, however, currently the single weakest area of most agencies’ responses (Brown and Olsen 2008a). The bulk of agencies, in most jurisdictions, are urged to give active and urgent consideration to strategies for providing whistleblower support. In particular, agencies are encouraged to develop programs—commensurate with their own size and needs—for ensuring that support strategies are directed and, where necessary, delivered by persons with an institutional role that conflicts as little as possible with the...

  10. E. AN INTEGRATED ORGANISATIONAL APPROACH
    (pp. 100-112)

    As outlined throughout this guide, the three major objectives of a whistleblowing program are to encourage employee reporting of wrongdoing; ensure effective assessment, investigation and action of reports; and support and protect whistleblowers. While these aims must be underpinned by organisational commitment to the program, as described in Section A, our research has also confirmed the lessons from the previous sections that the effective operation of a whistleblowing program relies on a positive workplace culture and shared responsibilities, supported by dedicated resources.

    Organisational commitment to the program must move beyond procedures setting out the responsibilities and obligations that must be...

  11. APPENDIX 1
    (pp. 113-117)
  12. APPENDIX 2
    (pp. 118-121)
  13. REFERENCES
    (pp. 122-126)