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Psst, tip line kiboshed at committee level

Guelph shouldn’t start an anonymous  “tip line” to allow city employees and the public to report alleged fraud, waste and other wrongdoing within city hall, says a new report from city staff.
The report, which goes to the May 6 meeting of council’s governance committee, was done in response to a motion two months ago from Coun. Cam Guthrie. His motion, approved by council on a 6-5 vote, told staff to take a close look at the idea of creating an ethics and efficiency hotline or “tip line.”
Only seven Canadian cities – Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, Montreal and Oakville – currently use various forms of hotlines, the report says.
It says Guelph already has mechanisms for identifying fraud, waste and wrongdoing, and budgets $305,100 for the function of internal and external auditors and the integrity commissioner.
Within city hall, administration is “also implementing new initiatives to improve and support staff sharing ideas that create greater efficiencies, productivity and improved engagement,” it adds.
The report estimates it would cost $128,000 in the first year just to implement a hotline for use by city staff. “Quantifying costs associated with expanding the hotline for use by members of the public is not possible at this time,” it says.
This extra $128,000 expense would come at a time when the city is already facing likely extra costs resulting from the province’s announced intention to get more involved in oversight of municipal affairs, the report says.
The report says Oakville started its hotline within the past year and has produced no data so far on how it has been working.
However, data for the other six Canadian cities suggest their hotlines have led to a “relatively small” number of calls, a “minor” number of resulting investigations, and “small or negligible” recovery of money, the report says.

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