Division of Inspector General
Public Integrity Unit
The Public Integrity Unit conducts investigations of suspected fraud, waste, abuse, or ethical misconduct initiated through the Clerk & Comptroller’s employee ethics hotline or other sources.
Public Integrity Unit Objectives
The Public Integrity Unit has the primary responsibility for investigations of all suspected inappropriate activity.
The Unit's primary objectives include:
- Maintaining a fraud, waste, abuse and ethics hotline.
- Conducting investigations of issues raised from hotline submissions, input from Clerk or Clerk employees, and any fraud indicators identified while performing audits. If the investigation substantiates that an act of fraud, waste or abuse has occurred, the Division of Inspector General will notify the Clerk & Comptroller, or other appropriate officials.
- Investigating suspected instances of fraud. If the substantiated act has criminal implications, the Division of Inspector General will consult with law enforcement agencies, as necessary, and assist in the preparation and presentation of criminal findings in a court of law as requested.
- Working in conjunction with other audit and investigative bodies within Palm Beach County when appropriate to conduct joint audits and investigations.
Fraud, Waste and Abuse Process
The Public Integrity Unit's primary responsibility is to investigate suspected fraud, waste, abuse and ethical misconduct. The investigation process involves conducting witness and party interviews, gathering documents, and utilizing any other legal means by which investigators can obtain enough relevant, credible information to evaluate whether fraud, waste, or abuse occurred or exists in a particular situation.
If an investigation substantiates allegations by enough relevant, credible evidence, then the Unit makes written recommendations to the appropriate authorities (usually management), who can remedy the situation, if they choose. The Unit gathers information and makes recommendations; it does not make or enforce the rules.
Definition of Fraud, Waste, Abuse and Ethical Misconduct
Fraud is defined by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in their Fraud Manual as:
“Any intentional or deliberate act to deprive another of property or money by guile, deception, or other unfair means.”
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Personal use of government-owned vehicles, supplies or equipment
- Violations of procurement policy
- Submitting false vouchers for reimbursements
- Soliciting or accepting a bribe or a kickback
- Intentionally misrepresenting the costs of goods or services provided
- Falsification of official documents (timesheets, leave reports, travel vouchers, financial records, etc.)
- Conducting personal business on Clerk & Comptroller time
- Theft or misappropriation of funds, supplies, property, or other resources
- Forgery or alteration of financial documents or computer files
- Pursuit of a financial benefit or advantage in violation of conflict of interest policies
- Profiting by self or others as a result of inside knowledge
Waste refers to the unintentional, thoughtless or careless expenditure, consumption, mismanagement, use or squandering of government resources to the detriment or potential detriment of the Clerk & Comptroller or Palm Beach County. Waste also includes unnecessary incurring of costs as a result of inefficient practices, systems or controls.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Purchase of unneeded supplies or equipment
- Purchase of goods at inflated prices
- Failure to reuse or recycle major resources or reduce waste generation
Abuse refers to intentional, wrongful, or improper use or destruction of government resources, or seriously improper practice that does not involve prosecutable fraud. Abuse can include the excessive or improper use of an employee or official's position in a manner other than its rightful or legal use. Abuse can occur in financial or non-financial settings.
Ethical Misconduct refers to instances when public officials and government employees conduct their duties in a manner which is not impartial; use their public office for personal gain; or when their private interests are in conflict with their public duties. Detailed information regarding the State's code of ethics for public officers and employees can be found in Florida Statute Chapter 112.
Professional Standards for Investigations
The Public Integrity Unit of the Clerk & Comptroller's Division of Inspector General will adhere to the generally accepted principles and standards developed for offices of inspector general approved by the Association of Inspectors General (AIG). In addition, our office will conduct investigations in accordance with the professional standards of the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc. to maintain our accredited certification.