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Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline

About the Hotline

The Fraud Hotline is designed for reporting suspected cases of fraud, waste, or abuse. The Fraud Hotline is not a substitute for employment-related grievances or appeals, as existing City policy and procedures provide channels for resolution of these issues.

Face to face reporting is always the best form of communication, although that is not always feasible. Current City procedures and/or department instructions state that all complaints should be sent through the chain of command. However, recognizing that employees are not always comfortable going through the chain of command, the Fraud Hotline is another vehicle to report waste, fraud or abuse.


The City Auditor will at all times maintain the confidentiality of all complaints, associated reports, working papers, and other documents. Similarly, Departments investigating reviewing allegations shall also maintain the confidentiality of all complaints.

Whistleblower Protection

The City of San Diego will not retaliate, nor will it tolerate retaliation against those who, in good faith, report suspected ethics violations or who participate in an investigation of suspected ethics violations. An act of retaliation should be reported immediately to the City Auditor for referral to the Personnel Director, who will investigate any such report as a potential ethics violation. In addition, those who bring matters to the Office of the City Auditor are protected through the state Whistleblower Protection Act.

Hotline Process

In order to process your complaint, a minimum amount of information is needed. Please ensure that you have the following information before contacting the hotline:

  1. You are reporting fraud, waste, abuse that involves a City of San Diego employee, a contractor or a vendor doing business with the City of San Diego.
  2. You know who the suspect(s) involved is.
  3. You know what the alleged incident is.
  4. You know how the alleged incident was committed.
  5. You know where the alleged incident was committed.
  6. You know when (or approximately) the alleged incident was committed.

Reporting Fraud, Waste, or Abuse

Once the complaint form report is completed by The Network, the City's independent third party provider, The Network emails the report to the Office of the City Auditor. The City Auditor will investigate all complaints received related to fraud, waste, and abuse.

Non-Fraud Related Complaints

Any non-fraud related complaints made to the Fraud Hotline will be reviewed by the City Auditor's Hotline Intake and Review Committee. This committee is composed of (1) the City Auditor (2) the Personnel Director, and (3) the Labor Relations Director or their designees. This committee will review all complaints pertaining to employee relations, discrimination, harassment, and personnel related complaints. The committee will review the complaint and determine whether it meets the criteria for further investigation. The Hotline Intake and Review Committee will not review complaints referred to the Ethics Commission or complaints related to fraud, waste, or abuse.

In most cases, non-fraud related complaints will be referred to Departments for further review and investigation. The City Auditor will send the affected Department Director a memorandum notifying him or her of the complaint and requesting a response and advising of the process for resolving the complaint, if necessary. The Office of the City Auditor ensures, through monitoring and reminders to the designated Department head, that timely investigative and resolution activities are undertaken in response to complaints received through the hotline.

Department Directors have the responsibility to provide a reply that addresses the following:

  1. A description of an immediate plan to address the issue or concern;
  2. Description of a plan to prevent the issue or concern from happening again; and
  3. Description of the resolution of the issue/concern.

Enforcement Actions

If a hotline complaint is substantiated, the following enforcement consequences may occur for individuals found to be at fault:

  • Enforcement actions are implemented through the City's management and appointing authority structure.
  • Actions may include management intervention, discipline, referral to the City Attorney's Office and/or referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
  • Disciplinary actions by management may include oral or written counseling, oral or written warning, reprimand, supplemental performance evaluation, suspension, reduction in compensation, demotion, or termination.
  • Criminal issues referred to a law enforcement agency may result in prosecution and conviction