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Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians Whistleblower Policy

Approved on 11/14/19 via Tribal Resolution 2019-398;
revised on 4/9/21 via Tribal Resolution 2021-119

I. Definitions

  1. “Disclosure” as defined under this Policy shall be any lawful act done by the Whistleblower, which involves or constitutes:
    1. Providing information, causing information to be provided, or otherwise assisting in an investigation of or concerning any activity within the Organization which the Whistleblower reasonably believes to constitute misconduct, a serious ethical violation, a violation of law, ordinance or statute, or actionable fraud, when such information, reporting, disclosure or assistance is provided to or the investigation is conducted by: 1) law-enforcement; or 2) managers, supervisors, elected officials or other agents, including designated or appointed staff within the Organization;
    2. Filing, causing to be filed, testifying at, participating in, or otherwise assisting with a proceeding or report filed or expected to be filed, relating to unlawful activity under federal, tribal or state law, or that involving allegedly illegal, egregiously improper, seriously unethical or fraudulent conduct within or affecting the Organization; or
    3.  Submitting information, reporting Disclosure(s) or complaint(s) to the Organization or their managers or supervisors regarding any of the alleged violations detailed in A.1. & A.2. above.
  2. “Good Faith” for purposes of this Policy, shall mean that the Whistleblower has a reasonably held belief that the Disclosure or reporting being made is true and accurate and is not being made either for personal gain or advancement, out of personal dislike or for any other improper ulterior purpose or motive.
  3. “Investigation Team” in this Policy means individual(s) selected by the Responsible Official to assist in performing the investigation. The “Investigation Team” may or may not include individual(s) from the “Review Team.”
  4. “Organization” for purposes of this policy means all entities within the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.
  5. “Responsible Official” in this Policy means either the Director of Internal Audit or Tribal Council member to whom the Disclosure is made and is required to evaluate and investigate the Disclosure.
  6. “Retaliation” for purposes of this Policy, shall mean actions such as discharge, demotion, suspension, threatening, harassment, or unfavorable treatment against the Whistleblower, where the cause is determined to be a direct result of their Disclosure.
  7. “Review Team” in this Policy means individual(s) selected by the Responsible Official to consult with to determine if the allegations warrant an investigation.
  8. “Whistleblower” in this Policy is an employee, vendor, member of the public, or a Tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (“CTSI”, “Tribe”, or “Organization”) who makes a Disclosure of or otherwise reports an activity which they reasonably regard as illegal, fraudulent, ethically improper or dishonest, or otherwise in serious violation of the Tribe’s best interests.

II. Overview

Upon adoption of this Policy by a resolution of Tribal Council, this Policy becomes effective for all entities that are owned, operated, or governed by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

This Policy establishes the process under Siletz Tribal Law for a “Whistleblower,” that prohibits discrimination against an employee, vendor, Tribal member, or other related person, as retaliation for that person’s Disclosure.

The Whistleblower shall not be responsible for investigating the allegedly improper activity or for determining fault or appropriate corrective measures. The Responsible Official will conduct the investigation and determine if the allegations are substantiated, partially substantiated, or unsubstantiated. Although the Responsible Official does not have authority to implement employee sanctions, recommendations will be provided to management as potential corrective action. Managerial staff or supervisors within the Organization, and ultimately the Siletz Tribal Council and the Siletz Tribal Court shall be responsible for ensuring appropriate corrective action is taken.

This Policy applies only to Disclosure or reporting of matters of illegal, seriously unethical or fraudulent nature and severity and does not apply to all grievances that an employee may have such as those related to terms of employment or those concerns that are addressed by other policies of the Organization. For example, Organizations have policies and procedures to address matters such as a hostile work environment (e.g., sexual harassment or discrimination). Prior to submitting a Whistleblower report for an “egregious” policy violation, please allow the Organization’s established policies and procedures the opportunity to resolve the matter. This Policy and its scope are confined to issues of Whistleblower reporting and the protection of those who engage in it.

Some examples of illegal, dishonest, unethical or otherwise improper activities which shall be considered appropriate subjects of Whistleblower reporting under this Policy shall include, but not limited to:

  • violations of federal, state, or tribal laws;
  • egregious violation of the Organizations manual guidance or policy;
  • fraudulent financial reporting, expense reimbursement or like misconduct;
  • falsifying records, transactions or signatures;
  • fraud or theft or embezzlement from the Tribe or Organization;
  • safety, health or environmental violations; or
  • engaging in transactions with the Organization that are not arm’s length and/or not disclosed to Tribal Council that result in substantial personal gain.

EXCEPTION: In compliance with the Siletz Tribal Gaming Compact, any disclosures or reporting regarding the operations of the gaming facility authorized by the Compact, the Siletz Tribal Gaming Commission (“STGC”) has primary responsibility for on-site regulation, control and oversight. Accordingly, any disclosures of the type stated in this Policy on gaming operations must initially be reported to the STGC to follow its complaint procedure. STGC’s responsibility and authority is to determine if the complaint is regulatory. If it is regulatory, it will be processed through STGC’s Direct Reporting Regulation. However, in doing so, the Whistleblower is still under the protection of no retribution from disclosure under this Policy. If it is determined to be non-regulatory, STGC will immediately inform the Responsible Official and it will be turned back over to be processed through the Whistleblower Policy.

III. Purpose

CTSI has adopted this Policy in order to:

  1. Encourage Disclosure and investigation of improprieties before they can disrupt the business or operations of the Organization or lead to serious harm or loss;
  2. Promote a climate of accountability with respect to the Organization’s resources, including its human capital; and
  3. Ensure that no individual shall be retaliated against as the result of making a Good Faith Disclosure.

IV. Protection of  Whistleblower

In making a Disclosure, a Whistleblower should exercise due care to ensure the truth and accuracy of the information disclosed. This Policy provides protection from retaliation for employees, vendors, Tribal members, and others related to the Whistleblower, who makes any Disclosure under this Policy, which is determined to be in “Good Faith.” Any acts of retaliation against a Whistleblower making such a Disclosure shall be treated by the Organization as a serious violation of Tribal Policy and could result in action, including discharge, of the violating or retaliating employee(s), or termination of services of contractors, subcontractors or agents.

V. Confidentiality of Disclosure

  1. The Organization will treat all Disclosures as confidential and will keep confidential the identity of any individual making a Disclosure under this Policy until a formal investigation is commenced. Thereafter, the identity of the Whistleblower making the Disclosure will be kept confidential if requested, unless such confidentiality is incompatible with a fair investigation, or unless there is an overriding reason for identifying or otherwise disclosing the identity of the Whistleblower making the Disclosure, or unless Disclosure of the identity of the Whistleblower is required by law.
  2. Where disciplinary proceedings are invoked against any subject of a Disclosure as a result of a this Policy, CTSI may require that the name of the person making the Disclosure be privately revealed to the person subject to such proceedings. This shall be a determination left to the discretion of the Tribal Court.
  3. CTSI encourages Whistleblowers to put their name to any Disclosure they make, but any Whistleblower may also make anonymous Disclosure pursuant to the procedures set forth below. In responding to an anonymous Disclosure, the Organization will pay due regard to fairness to any individual named in the Disclosure, the seriousness of the issue raised, the credibility of the information or allegations in the Disclosure, and the prospect of an effective investigation.

VI. Procedure for Making A Disclosure

  1. Any Disclosure made by a Whistleblower under this Policy may be submitted anonymously or by self-identification to a Responsible Official listed below, as appropriate under the circumstances:
    1. to the Tribe’s Internal Audit Department Director; or
    2. a Tribal Council Member if the Disclosure is being made against an employee of the Tribe’s Internal Audit Department.
    3. to the STGC under the complaint procedures as noted in the STGC Regulations if the disclosure is to be made regarding the gaming operation (except if such disclosure involves STGC personnel, in which case the disclosure would be directed to the Tribe’s Internal Audit Director). Subsequently, for a gaming disclosure, depending on the circumstance, the STGC may or may not involve the Responsible Official for further investigation.
  2. Information that will need to be provided includes the following:
    1. Describe what happened (the web portal has a series of questions regarding the concern so there is enough information to make a determination of merit or how to further proceed. Additionally, a printable form is available on the CTSI website asking for the same information if a handwritten form is prepared); and
    2. Provide contact information so the matter can be discussed confidentially, unless anonymity is desired.
  3. If the Whistleblower is making the Disclosure anonymously, the Disclosure shall be treated confidentially as provided in this Policy. As a result, anonymous Disclosure means the Whistleblower may not know 1) if an investigation was performed and/or 2) the outcome(s) of any investigation. Lastly, anonymous Disclosure means the protections of this Whistleblower Policy may not apply.
  4. For reporting to the Internal Audit Director, use the following mechanisms:
    1. A direct confidential phone number voice mail at 541-444-TELL (8355) ;
    2. A secure web portal fill in form that can be used to report at www.ctsi.nsn.us ;
    3. An email to Whistleblower@ctsi.nsn.us ; or
    4. A written letter clearly marked “Confidential” to:
      Internal Audit Director
      2120 NW 44th St. Suite E
      Lincoln City, OR 97367
  5. The information provided through all four of the reporting mechanisms in (D) above is designed to only be accessible by the Internal Audit Director.
  6. If the Disclosure is being made against an employee of the Tribe’s Internal Audit Department, the options in (D) above would not be appropriate; only informing a Tribal Council Member personally would be appropriate. In such an event, if the Disclosure is made to a Council member other than the Tribal Chairman, the Council member who received the Disclosure will immediately notify the Tribal Council Chairman of the Disclosure. The Tribal Chairman will notify the rest of the Council of the Disclosure and designate a Responsible Official to conduct the investigation of the Disclosure. The Responsible Official appointed pursuant to this provision shall follow the process set forth in this Policy to investigate the Disclosure.

VII. Procedure For Making a Disclosure

  1. Upon receiving a Disclosure, the Responsible Official shall determine a course of action in a timely manner. The Responsible Official may use a “Review Team” to help determine if the allegations warrant an investigation. One of the following courses of action will be taken:
    1. Dismissal of Allegation: If a Disclosure is reviewed and determined that an investigation is not warranted, it will be dismissed (e.g., allegation lacks specific details or previously investigated). If contact information was provided, the Whistleblower will be notified in writing as to the reason why the allegation was dismissed.
    2. Investigation of Allegation: Disclosures found to have merit will be investigated to determine whether allegations are substantiated, unsubstantiated or partially substantiated. Investigations will be conducted as quickly as possible, taking into account the nature and complexity of the Disclosure and the issues raised.

If necessary and possible, the Responsible Official may obtain additional clarification from the Whistleblower regarding the allegation, prior to determining the appropriate course of action.

VIII. Investigating Allegations

  1. Depending on the level or manner or circumstances of the alleged impropriety, the Responsible Official may inform Organization management of the matter to discuss further steps in an investigation. In doing so, the Whistleblower may still remain unknown to any subsequently informed parties.
  2. The Responsible Official may utilize an “Investigation Team” to assist with the investigation.
  3. The Responsible Official must document in writing the results of the investigation including a decision that the allegation was:
    1. Substantiated: The investigation determined the allegation(s) made in the Disclosure was (were) accurate and recommendations were made to address the issue(s).
    2. Partially Substantiated: The investigation determined that not all allegations in the disclosure were substantiated; however, either part of the allegations or information related to the allegations warranted a recommendation.
    3. Unsubstantiated: The investigation determined the allegation in the Disclosure to be untrue. No recommendations were needed.

I. Investigation Reporting

  1. The outcome of the investigation will be reported in writing to Tribal Council and to personnel determined by the Responsible Official to ensure issues, if any, are addressed.
  2. If contact information was provided, the Whistleblower will be notified in writing whether the investigation determined their allegation(s) to be substantiated, partially substantiated or unsubstantiated. As a matter of confidentiality for all parties involved, in terms of this reporting paragraph, the Whistleblower will not be given information as to the recommendation and or final results (i.e., consequence, if any) of that recommendation.

IX. Annual Review and Reporting

The Internal Audit Department Director shall report a summary of Disclosures to the Tribal Council at established intervals, no less than annually:

  1. the number, nature, and brief description of Disclosures made through the reporting mechanisms and under this Policy;
  2. the status of the investigations conducted in response to those Disclosures; and
  3. the outcome(s) of those investigations, including any personnel action(s) or other sanction(s) implemented.