Hamilton’s Office of the Auditor General continues to tackle fraud and waste
HAMILTON, ON – The City of Hamilton’s Fraud and Waste Hotline is now a permanent program following City Council’s approval yesterday.
The Hotline provides City of Hamilton employees, contractors, vendors and members of the public with a convenient, confidential and anonymous way to report any observed or suspected fraud, waste and wrongdoing involving City resources.
Since Council directed the implementation of the Fraud and Waste Hotline Pilot Program which launched in July 2019, the volume of reports has been consistently high, exceeding original expectations each year (based on research and volume reports of other jurisdictions) with a substantiation rate of 32 per cent.
The cumulative total of actual and potential losses substantiated to-date is approximately $1.16 million with approximately $33,300 recovered via repayments, restitution, and/or asset recovery.
The Fraud and Waste Hotline was established to help protect City assets and reduce losses. It also enables the City to operate with a high level of honesty and integrity.
Since its launch, audits initiated by the Hotline have resulted in 176 recommendations, with an acceptance rate of 99 per cent.
Additionally, the Fraud and Waste Hotline provides these benefits:
- Deters fraud, waste and wrongdoing
- Strengthens internal controls and mitigates risks
- Improves policies and standard operating procedures
- Increases operational efficiencies by providing better value in service delivery
- Identifies trends, manages risks, makes results-oriented recommendations to management and informs future audit work plans
This reporting tool along with the Whistleblower By-law is aimed at protecting the City of Hamilton’s revenue, property, information and other assets from being misappropriated either by members of the public, contractors, vendors, agents or its own employees.
In addition to making the Fraud and Waste Hotline a permanent program, City Council also supported amending the name of the Office of the City Auditor to the Office of the Auditor General, acknowledging the independent and objective nature of the work.
Fraud and Waste Report findings since the Hotline pilot launched in July 2019 include:
- 272 reports received
- 112 reports received online, consistently the most used method of reporting
- 85 reports received directly by the Office of the Auditor General
- 32 per cent substantiation rate of reports received
- 56 per cent of reports received were anonymous
- 68 investigations launched
- $1.16 million actual and potential losses substantiated
- 8,700+ hours spent on administration, assessment, investigations and reporting
- Reports of fraud and/or waste can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online or by telephone
- The Office of the Auditor General is an independent and objective office that is accountable to Council via the Audit, Finance and Administration Committee
Since the Fraud and Waste Hotline was first implemented, there has been an increase in the volume of reports received - a trend that is on track to continue this year once again. It is clear the Hotline is an effective tool that offers an objective, convenient way to report, quantify and prevent fraud, waste and other wrongdoing. Council’s decision to make the Hotline a permanent program demonstrates their commitment to integrity, transparency, accountability, and to reducing fraud and waste.Charles Brown, Auditor General, City of Hamilton