How do I file a whistleblower complaint?
Reset Rating: B- (9.5 out of 15)
By: Katie Short
What is whistleblowing? Not just for the IRS...
Part of being a resident of any city is being confident that the resources going into the city, your taxes, etc, are being put to good use, and that the city employees are acting as you expect them to act. If you have any reason to suspect that is not the case, City and County of San Francisco has set up a whistleblower program so you can file complaints and concerns to a body devoted to investigating wrong-doings.
Now the City has tried to make it easier than ever for you to file such complaints or concerns through an online process. Gov 2.0?
Accessibility: 2 out of 3
The service could be more accessible -- once you arrive on the “Whistleblower Complaints Program” page, if you select “Filing a Complaint,” an intuitive selection, you are directed to another link for filing a complaint online (a direct link to the “Web Form” is also located in the same lefthand navigation bar as “Filing a Complaint”). The “Filing a Complaint” page and the “Web Form” page provide the same information, just one is a roundabout way of getting, ultimately, to the other.
Google Translate is available on every page of this process. (What a relief ‘cause it’s getting a little old to knock every service for lacking this...)
Ease of Use: 3 out of 3
This service is actually quite easy to use. Intuitive, even once you arrive at the page.
Design: 2.5 of 3
Within sf311.org the pages are visually consistent, and while the design changes slightly when you transition to the Office of the Controller’s site, it does not greatly hinder usability.
The Guide: 1 out of 3
There is a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, but it is not necessarily helpful with the technical details of the process. There is a number listed where you can call for assistance, but if you are going to make the call, you might as well file the complaint over the phone...
User Feedback: 1 out of 3
The Whistleblower Annual Report provides an overview of the complaints filed each year. This is as close to feedback and a progress report as this service gets. It lists select complaints, in vague terms to protect the confidentiality of each complaint, in each annual report and details what happened, i.e. the general follow-up.
The only way to check the city’s progress on your specific complaint is to track your complaint using its assigned number and then reach out to the city or follow-up as you see fit. There is not a public mechanism for objecting to the city’s follow-up largely to protect the confidentiality that imperative to the program.
On the sf311.org home page, click on “Community” in the second column. Once on the “Community” page, select “Whistleblower” from the lower righthand part of the screen. You will be taken to the “Whistleblower Complaints Program” page in the San Francisco Office of the Controller website. Select “Web Form” from the lefthand navigation bar, and proceed to fill out the form. Once you are done filing your complaint, you will receive a tracking number for your complaint in order to check the progress of the city’s follow-up.