Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Whistleblower. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Whistleblower. Show all posts

Friday, July 9, 2021

Why It’s Time To Modernize Your Ethics Hotline

Claire Schmidt
Originally posted 18 Jun 21

Traditional whistleblower hotlines are going to be a thing of the past.

They certainly served a purpose and pioneered a way for employees to report wrongdoing at their companies confidentially. But the reasons are stacking up against them as to why they’re no longer serving companies and employees in 2021. And if companies continue to use them, they need to realize that issues or concerns may go unreported because employees don’t want to use that channel to report.

After all, the function of a whistleblower hotline is to encourage employees to report any wrongdoing they see in the workplace through a confidential channel, which means that the channels for reporting should get an upgrade.

But there are deeper reasons why issues remain unreported — and it goes beyond just offering a hotline to use. Today, companies need to give their employees better ways to report wrongdoing, as well as tell them the value of why they should do so. Otherwise, companies won’t hear about the full extent of wrongdoing happening in the workplace, whatever channel they provide.

The Evolution Of Workplace Reporting Channels

Whistleblower or ethics hotlines were initially that: a phone number — because that was the technology at the time — that employees could anonymously call to report wrongdoings at a company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 mandated that companies set up a method for “the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of the issuer of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Top German psychologist found to have fabricated data—University Investigation Finds Anxiety Expert Pressured Whistleblowers

Hristio Boytchev
Science  09 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6538, pp. 117-118
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6538.117

Here is an excerpt:

Wittchen was one of the top epidemiologists of psychiatry, and TU Dresden “has benefited greatly from him,” says Jürgen Margraf, a psychologist at Ruhr University, Bochum, who has collaborated with Wittchen. “If the commission’s findings turn out to be true, they are very disturbing for the entire field, and that would also have an impact on TU Dresden.” Thomas Pollmächer, director of the mental health center at Ingolstadt Hospital, says the allegations are “startling.” He worries about other possible irregularities in Wittchen’s extensive publication record. “Some time bombs may be ticking,” he says.

The study in question was a €2.4 million survey of staffing levels and quality at nearly 100 German psychiatric facilities. Working for TU Dresden’s Association for Knowledge and Technology Transfer (GWT), Wittchen was the principal investigator of the effort, which aimed to examine workloads at the clinics and inform government regulations.

But in February 2019, German media reported allegations, stemming from whistle-blowers close to the survey project, that study data had been fabricated. The university launched a formal investigation, led by law professor Hans-Heinrich Trute.

After 2 years of work, the commission, in its final report, has found that only 73 of 93 psychiatric clinics were actually surveyed. For the others, the report says, Wittchen instructed researchers to copy data from one clinic and apply them to another.

 “The violations were intentional, not negligent,” the report says. “Wittchen wanted to appear more successful than he was.”

Wittchen told Science he would not answer detailed questions “because they are the issue of legal proceedings.” But he denies any wrongdoing and says the study in question was “scientifically correct.”

The investigation report also shows how Wittchen sought to avoid repercussions. 

In April 2019, he sent an email to Hans Müller-Steinhagen, president of TU Dresden at the time, warning him to “stay out of the project” and stop the investigation, because otherwise there would be a “national political earthquake.” 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Lawmakers Push Again for Info on Google Collecting Patient Data

Rob Copeland
Wall Street Journal
Originally published 3 March 20

A bipartisan trio of U.S. senators pushed again for answers on Google’s controversial “Project Nightingale,” saying the search giant evaded requests for details on its far-reaching data tie-up with health giant Ascension.

The senators, in a letter Monday to St. Louis-based Ascension, said they were put off by the lack of substantive disclosure around the effort.

Project Nightingale was revealed in November in a series of Wall Street Journal articles that described Google’s then-secret engagement to collect and crunch the personal health information of millions of patients across 21 states.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), Bill Cassidy (R., La.), and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) subsequently wrote to the Alphabet Inc. GOOG +1.35% unit seeking basic information about the program, including the number of patients involved, the data shared and who at Google had access.

The head of Google Health, Dr. David Feinberg, responded with a letter in December that largely stuck to generalities, according to correspondence reviewed by the Journal.


Ascension earlier this year fired an employee who had reached out to media, lawmakers and regulators with concerns about Project Nightingale, a person familiar with the matter said. 

The employee, who described himself as a whistleblower, was told by Ascension higher-ups that he had shared information about the initiative that was intended to be secret, the person said.

Nick Ragone, a spokesman for Ascension—one of the U.S.’s largest health-care systems with 2,600 hospitals, doctors’ offices and other facilities—declined to say why the employee in question was fired. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

On the Willingness to Report and the Consequences of Reporting Research Misconduct: The Role of Power Relations.

Horbach, S.P.J.M., et al.
Sci Eng Ethics (2020).


While attention to research integrity has been growing over the past decades, the processes of signalling and denouncing cases of research misconduct remain largely unstudied. In this article, we develop a theoretically and empirically informed understanding of the causes and consequences of reporting research misconduct in terms of power relations. We study the reporting process based on a multinational survey at eight European universities (N = 1126). Using qualitative data that witnesses of research misconduct or of questionable research practices provided, we aim to examine actors’ rationales for reporting and not reporting misconduct, how they report it and the perceived consequences of reporting. In particular we study how research seniority, the temporality of work appointments, and gender could impact the likelihood of cases being reported and of reporting leading to constructive organisational changes. Our findings suggest that these aspects of power relations play a role in the reporting of research misconduct. Our analysis contributes to a better understanding of research misconduct in an academic context. Specifically, we elucidate the processes that affect researchers’ ability and willingness to report research misconduct, and the likelihood of universities taking action. Based on our findings, we outline specific propositions that future research can test as well as provide recommendations for policy improvement.

From the Conclusion:

We also find that contested forms of misconduct (e.g. authorship, cherry picking of data and fabrication of data) are less likely to be reported than more clear-cut instances of misconduct (e.g. plagiarism, text recycling and falsification of data). The respondents mention that minor misbehaviour is not considered worth reporting, or express doubts about the effectiveness of reporting a case when the witnessed behaviour does not explicitly transgress norms, such as with many of the QRPs. Concern about reporting’s negative consequences, such as career opportunities or organisational reputations being harmed, is always taken into considerations.

Secondly, we have theorised the relationship between power differences and researchers’ willingness to report—in particular the role of seniority, work appointments and gender. We have derived a list of seven propositions that we believe warrant testing and refinement in future studies using a larger sample to help with further theory building about power differences and research misconduct.

The info is here.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Bringing Ethics Back To Business

Tamara Pupic
Originally posted 30 Dec 19

In the business world, detecting, preventing, and remedying compliance issues, or a lack thereof, has evolved from academic research, investigative reporting, and businesses applying best practice initiatives, often clumsily, into a niche sector - regtech,  a new sector for ‘treps to develop innovative technologies to address challenges involving regulations.

It is considered the most promising part of the global enterprise governance, risk, and compliance (EGRC) market, whose size has grown rapidly, from US$27.8 billion in 2018 to an expected $64.2 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research. In the MENA region, transparency and ethical compliance have been at the forefront of shareholder and board of directors’ discussions, especially since non-compliance cases at leading firms have started making headlines just about every other week.


According to the leadership team, Alethia solves several of the main current challenges in compliance. Firstly, it addresses the lack of anonymity in traditional compliance hotlines and emails “People are naturally skeptical when it comes to technology and personal data,” Roets says. “We instill confidence by requiring no personal information when downloading the app, and we don’t track IP addresses. All interactions are protected with SSL encryption using digitally signed tokens to ensure 100% anonymity for the whistleblower to safeguard against any form of retaliation.” Secondly, the app urges organizations to try different reporting channels. “Most still rely on outdated anonymous telephone hotlines, but in a digital world, when we think about workforce demographics, GDPR compliance, cost implications, and the overall decline in telephone usage, hotlines are no longer best practice,” Roets says. “Other channels include intranet solutions, cumbersome online forms, or personal interactions with HR or ombudsmen. Unfortunately, these offer little by way of a follow-up feature, call handlers’ subjectivity can impact the quality of reports, and most importantly, they all present a real or perceived threat of compromising the reporter’s identity.”

The info is here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Whistle-blowers act out of a sense of morality

Alice Walton
Originally posted September 16, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

To understand the factors that predict the likelihood of whistle-blowing, the researchers analyzed data from more than 42,000 participants in the ongoing Merit Principles Survey, which has polled US government employees since 1979, and which covers whistle-blowing. Respondents answer questions about their past experiences with unethical behavior, the approaches they’d take in dealing with future unethical behavior, and their personal characteristics, including their concern for others and their feelings about their organizations.

Concern for others was the strongest predictor of whistle-blowing, the researchers find. This was true both of people who had already blown the whistle on bad behavior and of people who expected they might in the future.

Loyalty to an immediate community—or ingroup, in psychological terms—was also linked to whistle-blowing, but in an inverse way. “The greater people’s concern for loyalty, the less likely they were to blow the whistle,” write the researchers. 

Organizational factors—such as people’s perceptions about their employer, their concern for their job, and their level of motivation or engagement—were largely unconnected to whether people spoke up. The only ones that appeared to matter were how fair people perceived their organization to be, as well as the extent to which the organization educated its employees about ways to expose bad behavior and the rights of whistle-blowers. The data suggest these two factors were linked to whether whistle-blowers opted to address the unethical behavior through internal or external avenues. 

The info is here.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Tech, Data And The New Democracy Of Ethics

Neil Lustig
Originally posted June 10, 2019

As recently as 15 years ago, consumers had no visibility into whether the brands they shopped used overseas slave labor or if multinationals were bribing public officials to give them unfair advantages internationally. Executives could engage in whatever type of misconduct they wanted to behind closed doors, and there was no early warning system for investors, board members and employees, who were directly impacted by the consequences of their behavior.
Now, thanks to globalization, social media, big data, whistleblowers and corporate compliance initiatives, we have more visibility than ever into the organizations and people that affect our lives and our economy.

What we’ve learned from this surge in transparency is that sometimes companies mess up even when they’re not trying to. There’s a distinct difference between companies that deliberately engage in unethical practices and those that get caught up in them due to loose policies, inadequate self-policing or a few bad actors that misrepresent the ethics of the rest of the organization. The primary difference between these two types of companies is how fast they’re able to act -- and if they act at all.

Fortunately, just as technology and data can introduce unprecedented visibility into organizations’ unethical practices, they can also equip organizations with ways of protecting themselves from internal and external risks. As CEO of a compliance management platform, I believe there are three things that must be in place for organizations to stay above board in a rising democracy of ethics.

The info is here.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Duke agrees to pay $112.5 million to settle allegation it fraudulently obtained federal research funding

Seth Thomas Gulledge
Triangle Business Journal
Originally posted March 25, 2019

Duke University has agreed to pay $112.5 million to settle a suit with the federal government over allegations the university submitted false research reports to receive federal research dollars.

This week, the university reached a settlement over allegations brought forward by whistleblower Joseph Thomas – a former Duke employee – who alleged that during his time working as a lab research analyst in the pulmonary, asthma and critical care division of Duke University Health Systems, the clinical research coordinator, Erin Potts-Kant, manipulated and falsified studies to receive grant funding.

The case also contends that the university and its office of research support, upon discovering the fraud, knowingly concealed it from the government.

According to court documents, Duke was accused of submitting claims to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between 2006-2018 that contained "false or fabricated data" cause the two agencies to pay out grant funds they "otherwise would not have." Those fraudulent submissions, the case claims, netted the university nearly $200 million in federal research funding.

“Taxpayers expect and deserve that federal grant dollars will be used efficiently and honestly. Individuals and institutions that receive research funding from the federal government must be scrupulous in conducting research for the common good and rigorous in rooting out fraud,” said Matthew Martin, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina in a statement announcing the settlement. “May this serve as a lesson that the use of false or fabricated data in grant applications or reports is completely unacceptable.”

The info is here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Will You Forgive Your Supervisor’s Wrongdoings? The Moral Licensing Effect of Ethical Leader Behaviors

Rong Wang and Darius K.-S. Chan
Front. Psychol., 05 March 2019


Moral licensing theory suggests that observers may liberate actors to behave in morally questionable ways due to the actors’ history of moral behaviors. Drawing on this view, a scenario experiment with a 2 (high vs. low ethical) × 2 (internal vs. external motivation) between-subject design (N = 455) was conducted in the current study. We examined whether prior ethical leader behaviors cause subordinates to license subsequent abusive supervision, as well as the moderating role of behavior motivation on such effects. The results showed that when supervisors demonstrated prior ethical behaviors, subordinates, as victims, liberated them to act in abusive ways. Specifically, subordinates showed high levels of tolerance and low levels of condemnation toward abusive supervision and seldom experienced emotional responses to supervisors’ abusive behaviors. Moreover, subordinates tended to attribute abusive supervision, viewed as a kind of mistreatment without an immediate intent to cause harm, to characteristics of the victims and of the organization rather than of the supervisors per se. When supervisors behaved morally out of internal rather than external motivations, the aforementioned licensing effects were stronger.

Here is a portion of the Discussion

The main findings of this research have some implications for organizational practice. Subordinates have a tendency to liberate leaders’ morally questionable behaviors after observing leaders’ prior ethical behaviors, which may tolerate and even encourage the existence of destructive leadership styles. First, organizations can take steps including training and interventions to strengthen ethical climate. Organizations’ ethical climate is not only helpful to manage the ethical behaviors within the organizations, but also has impact on shaping organizational members’ zero-tolerance attitude to leaders’ mistreatments and questionable behaviors (Bartels et al., 1998).

Friday, March 15, 2019

Ethical considerations on the complicity of psychologists and scientists in torture

Evans NG, Sisti DA, Moreno JD
Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 
Published Online First: 20 February 2019.
doi: 10.1136/jramc-2018-001008


The long-standing debate on medical complicity in torture has overlooked the complicity of cognitive scientists—psychologists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists—in the practice of torture as a distinct phenomenon. In this paper, we identify the risk of the re-emergence of torture as a practice in the USA, and the complicity of cognitive scientists in these practices.

We review arguments for physician complicity in torture. We argue that these defences fail to defend the complicity of cognitive scientists. We address objections to our account, and then provide recommendations for professional associations in resisting complicity in torture.

Arguments for cognitive scientist complicity in torture fail when those actions stem from the same reasons as physician complicity. Cognitive scientist involvement in the torture programme has, from the outset, been focused on the outcomes of interrogation rather than supportive care. Any possibility of a therapeutic relationship between cognitive therapists and detainees is fatally undermined by therapists’ complicity with torture.

Professional associations ought to strengthen their commitment to refraining from engaging in any aspect of torture. They should also move to protect whistle-blowers against torture programmes who are members of their association. If the political institutions that are supposed to prevent the practice of torture are not strengthened, cognitive scientists should take collective action to compel intelligence agencies to refrain from torture.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A Pedophile Doctor Drew Suspicions for 21 Years. No One Stopped Him.

Christopher Weaver, Dan Frosch and Gabe Johnson
The Wall Street Journal
Originally posted February 8, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

An investigation by The Wall Street Journal and the PBS series Frontline found the IHS repeatedly missed or ignored warning signs, tried to silence whistleblowers and allowed Mr. Weber to continue treating children despite the suspicions of colleagues up and down the chain of command.

The investigation also found that the agency tolerated a number of problem doctors because it was desperate for medical staff, and that managers there believed they might face retaliation if they followed up on suspicions of abuse. The federal agency has long been criticized for providing inadequate care to Native Americans.

After a tribal prosecutor outside of the IHS finally investigated his crimes, Mr. Weber was indicted in 2017 and 2018 for sexually assaulting six patients in Montana and South Dakota. Court documents and interviews with former patients show that Mr. Weber plied teen boys with money, alcohol and sometimes opioids, and coerced them into oral and anal sex with him in hospital exam rooms and at his government housing unit.

“IHS, the local here, they want to just forget it happened,” said Pauletta Red Willow, a social-services worker on the Pine Ridge reservation. “You can’t ever forget how someone did our children wrong and affected us for generations to come.”

The info is here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Business Ethics And Integrity: It Starts With The Tone At The Top

Betsy Atkins
Originally posted 7, 2019

Here is the conclusion:

Transparency leads to empowerment:

Share your successes and your failures and look to everyone to help build a better company.  By including everyone, you create the illusive “we” that is the essence of company culture.  Transparency leads to a company culture that creates an outcome because the CEO creates a bigger purpose for the organization than just making money or reaching quarterly numbers.  Company culture guru Kenneth Kurtzman author of Common Purpose said it best when he said “CEOs need to know how to read their organizations’ emotional tone and need to engage behaviors that build trust including leading-by-listening, building bridges, showing compassion and caring, demonstrating their own commitment to the organization, and giving employees the authority to do their job while inspiring them to do their best work.”

There is no substitute for CEO leadership in creating a company culture of integrity.  A board that supports the CEO in building a company culture of integrity, transparency, and collaboration will be supporting a successful company.

The info is here.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

A Top Goldman Banker Raised Ethics Concerns. Then He Was Gone.

Emily Flitter, Kate Kelly and David Enrich
The New York Times
Originally posted September 11, 2018

By the tight-lipped standards of Goldman Sachs, the phone call from one of the firm’s most senior investment bankers was explosive.

James C. Katzman, a Goldman partner and the leader of its West Coast mergers-and-acquisitions practice, dialed the bank’s whistle-blower hotline in 2014 to complain about what he regarded as a range of unethical practices, according to accounts by people close to Mr. Katzman, which a Goldman spokesman confirmed. His grievances included an effort by Goldman to hire a customer’s child and colleagues’ repeated attempts to obtain and then share confidential client information.

Mr. Katzman expected lawyers at the firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, which monitored the hotline, to investigate his allegations and share them with independent members of Goldman’s board of directors, the people close to Mr. Katzman said.

The complaints were an extraordinary example of a senior employee’s taking on what he perceived to be corporate wrongdoing at an elite Wall Street bank. But they were never independently investigated or fully relayed to the Goldman board.

The information is here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Getting Ethics Training Right for Leaders and Employees

The Wall Street Journal
Originally posted April 9, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Ethics training has needed a serious redesign for some time, and we are seeing three changes to make training more effective. First, many organizations recognize that compliance training is not enough. Simply knowing the rules and how to call the ethics helpline does not necessarily mean employees will raise their voice when they see ethical issues in the workplace. Even if employees want to say something they often hesitate, worried that they may not be heard, or even worse, that voicing may lead to formal or informal retaliation. Overcoming this hesitation requires training to help employees learn how to voice their values with in-person, experiential practice in everyday workplace situations. More and more organizations are investing in this training, as a way to simultaneously support employees, reduce risk and proactively reshape their culture.

Another significant change in ethics training is a focus on helping senior leaders consider how their own ethical leadership shapes the culture. This requires leaders to examine the signals they send in their everyday behaviors, and how these signals make employees feel safe to voice ideas and concerns. In my training sessions with senior leaders, we use exercises that help them identify the leadership behaviors that create such trust, and those that may be counter-productive. We then redesign the everyday processes, such as the weekly meeting or decision-making models, that encourage voice and explicitly elevate ethical concerns.

Third, more organizations are seeing the connection between ethics and greater sense of purpose in the workplace. Employee engagement, performance and retention often increases when employees feel they are contributing something beyond profit creation. Ethics training can help employees see this connection and practice the so-called giver strategies that help others, their organizations, and their own careers at the same time.

The article is here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Building A More Ethical Workplace Culture

Originally posted March 20, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

The Worst News

Among the positive findings in the report was the fact that reporting is on the rise by a whole 19 percent, with 69 percent of employees stating they had reported misconduct in the last two years.

But that number, Harned said, comes with a bitter side note. Retaliation has also spiked during the same time period, with 44 percent reporting it – up from 22 percent two years ago.

The rate of retaliation going up faster than the rate of reporting, Harned noted, is disturbing.

“That is a very real problem for employees, and I think over the last year, we’ve seen what a huge problem it has become for employers.”

The door-to-door on retaliation for reporting is short – about three weeks on average. That is just about the time it takes for firms – even those serious about doing a good job with improving compliance – to get any investigation up and organized.

“By then, the damage is already done,” said Harned. “We are better at seeing misconduct, but we aren’t doing enough to prevent it from happening – especially because retaliation is such a big problem.”

There are not easy solutions, Harned noted, but the good news – even in the face of the worst news – is that improvement is possible, and is even being logged in some segments. Employees, she stated, mostly come in the door with a moral compass to call their own, and want to work in environments that are healthy, not vicious.

“The answer is culture is everything: Companies need to constantly communicate to employees that conduct is the expectation for all levels of the organization, and that breaking those rules will always have consequences.”

The post is here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Responding to whistleblower’s claims, Duke admits research data falsification

Ray Gronberg
The Herald-Sun
Originally published July 2, 2017

In-house investigators at Duke University believe a former lab tech falsified or fabricated data that went into 29 medical research reports, lawyers for the university say in their answer to a federal whistleblower lawsuit against it.

Duke’s admissions concern the work of Erin Potts-Kant, and a probe it began in 2013 when she was implicated in an otherwise-unrelated embezzlement. The lawsuit, from former lab analyst Joseph Thomas, contends Duke and some of its professors used the phony data to fraudulently obtain federal research grants. He also alleges they ignored warning signs about Potts-Kants’ work, and tried to cover up the fraud.

The university’s lawyers have tried to get the case dismissed, but in April, a federal judge said it can go ahead. The latest filings thus represent Duke’s first answer to the substance of Thomas’ allegations.

Up front, it said Potts-Kant told a Duke investigating committee that she’d faked data that wound up being “included in various publications and grant applications.”

The article is here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Leadership Blind Spots at Wells Fargo

By Susan M. Ochs
Harvard Business Review
Originally posted October 06, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

This leadership blind spot is the result of misguided reverence for their culture and its ability to inoculate the bank from systemic problems. It represents a governance breakdown of the highest order for executives and board members. But it appears that some red flags never even reached them: Investigations revealed the bank has ignored, discouraged, and even fired employees who tried to voice concerns about the intimidating culture and unethical practices.

In the worst cases, whistleblowers claim they were fired after reporting violations to the bank’s ethics hotline or trying to alert supervisors to illegal behavior.  Concerns raised by other employees were reportedly ignored, including an alleged email sent to Stumpf directly, and a petition, signed by 5,000 colleagues, that sought to lower sales quotas and combat unethical conduct. Stumpf called the firings “regrettable” and assured Congress that the bank has a policy of non-retaliation against whistleblowers.

But the damage goes beyond the employees who were terminated — it sends a signal to everyone else that they should keep quiet. At best, problem-raisers will be ignored; at worst, they will lose their jobs. Why risk it? If the bank doesn’t care, why should they?

The article is here.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Stop ignoring misconduct

Donald S. Kornfeld & Sandra L. Titus
Originally posted 31 August 2016

The history of science shows that irreproducibility is not a product of our times. Some 350 years ago, the chemist Robert Boyle penned essays on “the unsuccessfulness of experiments”. He warned readers to be sceptical of reported work. “You will meet with several Observations and Experiments, which ... may upon further tryal disappoint your expectation.” He attributed the problem to a 'lack of skill in the scientist and the lack of purity of the ingredients', and what would today be referred to as inadequate statistical power.

By 1830, polymath Charles Babbage was writing in more cynical terms. In Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, he complains of “several species of impositions that have been practised in science”, namely “hoaxing, forging, trimming and cooking”.

In other words, irreproducibility is the product of two factors: faulty research practices and fraud.

The article is here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

VA watchdog shelves 36,000 complaints, draws ire from whistleblowers

By Donovan Slack
Originally published September 23, 2015

The chief watchdog at the Department of Veterans Affairs investigates less than 10 percent of the nearly 40,000 complaints it receives annually about problems at the agency, even when they concern potential harm to veteran health, Deputy Inspector General Linda Halliday said Tuesday.

The Office of Inspector General, which is responsible under federal law for rooting out mismanagement and abuse at the agency, simply doesn't have the resources, Halliday said at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"There is a serious discrepancy between the size of our workforce and the size of our workload," Halliday said. She said her office has roughly 650 professional staff members while the agency they investigate has more than 350,000 employees and a budget greater than $160 billion. "The OIG is not right-sized to respond to all the complaints that we currently receive."

The entire article is here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Psychology of Whistleblowing

James Dungan, Adam Waytz, Liane Young
Current Opinion in Psychology


Whistleblowing—reporting another person's unethical behavior to a third party—represents an ethical quandary. In some cases whistleblowing appears heroic whereas in other cases it appears reprehensible. This article describes how the decision to blow the whistle rests on the tradeoff that people make between fairness and loyalty. When fairness increases in value, whistleblowing is more likely whereas when loyalty increases in value, whistleblowing is less likely. Furthermore, we describe systematic personal, situational, and cultural factors stemming from the fairness-loyalty tradeoff that drive whistleblowing. Finally, we describe how minimizing this tradeoff and prioritizing constructive dissent can encourage whistleblowing and strengthen collectives.

The entire article is here.