The Office of the Controller’s Whistleblower Program is how City employees and residents can sound the alarm on suspected fraud, waste, and abuse in City government. Whistleblower complaints result in investigations that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of San Francisco government.
You can blow the whistle by using our online complaint form. Access through the Whistleblower Program’s website. Or by calling 415-701-2311 or 311 and stating that you wish to file a complaint with the Controller’s Office.
The Whistleblower Program also accepts complaints by email or in person at the Controller’s Office. You can file a complaint anonymously or you can provide contact information that will only be seen by Whistleblower Program investigators.
Here are some examples of issues that should be immediately reported to the Whistleblower Program:
- Theft or misuse of City and County of San Francisco money, equipment, supplies, or materials
- Improper activities by City employees
- Deficiencies in the quality and delivery of City government services
- Wasteful and inefficient government practices
When you submit a complaint through the Whistleblower Program’s online complaint form, you will receive a unique tracking number that enables you to check back with the Whistleblower Program to determine if investigators have additional questions or need additional information.
By law, City employees that file complaints with or provide information to the Whistleblower Program are protected. An employer may not retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower.
Any employee that retaliates against another employee is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Employees that retaliate may also be personally liable.
In December 2018, the City passed new laws to expand whistleblower protections. The first change is that supervisors now have additional responsibilities to assist employees in filing retaliation complaints.
If an employee complains to a supervisor that they are being retaliated against, the supervisor must keep the complaint confidential and immediately refer the employee to the Ethics Commission. Supervisors must document the date and time of the referral in writing.
Supervisors who fail to fulfill these new duties are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal just like any employee who retaliates against a colleague. To find out if you qualify as a supervisor, consult with your department’s Human Resources or labor representative.
The second change is that whistleblower protections now apply to the City's contractors. This means that City employees cannot retaliate against a City contractor who blows the whistle on a City employee or on another City contractor.
Examples of retaliation include:
- Terminating a contract with a City contractor
- Refusing to use a City contractor for contracted services
- Requesting that a City contractor terminate, demote, or suspend one of its employees
Just like City employees, contractors need to feel safe to provide information to or cooperate with the Whistleblower Program.
Any city employee who retaliates against a contractor is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
City departments must post a notice of the whistleblower protections for contractors in the workplace, and City contractors must distribute the notice of protections to all their employees.
Any City contractor who believes they have been the subject of retaliation should file a complaint with the Ethics Commission within 2 years of any alleged retaliation.
Please visit the Ethics Commission at sfethics.org for more information about whistleblower protections and information about reporting retaliation.
When fraud is allowed to continue, it jeopardizes the level of service that San Francisco government can provide. If you see or hear of any wasteful or dishonest behavior by City officers and employees, please report it to the Whistleblower Program immediately.
For more information on the whistleblower program and whistleblower protections, please see www.sfgov.org/whistleblower.