New System for Reporting Business Misconduct

Users can anonymously report ethics violations committed by IEEE members or staff

6 October 2008

IEEE has launched an anonymous reporting system for the receipt and handling of reports of suspected financial impropriety involving IEEE business or the failure of IEEE members or staff to comply with the organization’s Principles of Business Conduct. Examples of misconduct include unfair business dealings with any involved party (either within the company or with outside vendors), failing to report potential conflicts of interest, disclosure of confidential information entrusted to IEEE, violation of the company’s policies and procedures, or failure to fully disclose financial transactions in reports to volunteers and management.

EthicsPoint, a company in Portland, Ore., receives anonymous reports of suspected financial impropriety, manages the process for receipt and handling of cases of alleged financial misconduct, and forwards anonymous reports to the IEEE corporate integrity contact person (CICP) for evaluation and proposed disposition. Each accused individual is given the opportunity to respond to the complaint.

If a case involves an IEEE volunteer, the CICP investigates the allegation and reports the results and recommended actions to the IEEE Audit Committee. If the Audit Committee determines that a violation of IEEE Principles of Business Conduct has occurred, the Audit Committee chair informs the accused of the required corrective action and requests compliance. If the CICP believes that the case includes a violation of the IEEE Code of Ethics, the CICP will also file a complaint with the IEEE Ethics and Member Conduct Committee.

For reports involving IEEE staff, the CICP transfers the case to the IEEE executive director, who then leads or oversees the investigation and, if disciplinary action is required, works with IEEE Human Resources to impose sanctions. The IEEE executive director subsequently informs the Audit Committee about the investigation and results, then the Audit Committee uses this information to determine if legal action is indicated and if revisions are needed to IEEE processes.

The IEEE Board of Directors and/or the IEEE Executive Committee, as well as the complainant, are appropriately and confidentially informed of the disposition of all cases. Some cases require Board or Directors or Executive Committee action before sanctions are taken.

Confidential reports can be made to EthicsPoint by telephone or e-mail. Those in the United States, Canada, Guam, or Puerto Rico can call 888-359-6323 toll-free. Those in other countries must use the online reporting system. An EthicsPoint representative will respond to these confidential reports within six business days, the company says.

If you wish, you may make the report anonymously. You’ll be asked for details about the suspected misconduct, including the name of the person involved, the IEEE location and/or organization where the incident occurred, and a description of what transpired. A unique code, or report key, will be assigned to each report so that the person who filed it can follow up on its status.

The reporting system does not replace IEEE’s current procedures for reporting issues of noncompliance with IEEE’s Code of Ethics. Reporting of noncompliance with the Code of Ethics is made to the IEEE Ethics and Member Conduct Committee, which institutes proceedings, if it determines, after a preliminary investigation, that there is a reasonable basis for believing that the allegations in the complaint can be proved and that they constitute cause for expulsion, suspension, or censure of the member/volunteer’s privileges.

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