Frequently Asked Questions
ETHICAL PANTHER LINE: CONVERCENT
- What is the Ethical Panther line at Florida International University?
- Why does the University need an Ethics and Compliance Hotline?
- What is Convercent?
- What kinds of concerns should I report?
- If I were to see a violation, why can’t I just report it to my supervisor or Human Resources department and let them deal with it?
- Can I make a report of known or suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect to the Ethical Panther line?
- How do I access Convercent?
- Where does my report go? Who at the University sees my report?
- What happens when I decide to call the toll-free number?
- What if I should remember something important after I have filed a report?
- What if the University were to need additional information to look into my compliance concern?
- Does Convercent replace existing mechanisms at Florida International University to raise compliance related questions or concerns?
- What are my responsibilities in making a report or in an investigation?
- What are my other reporting options?
- Are anonymity and confidentiality guaranteed?
- How long will the investigation take?
The Ethical Panther line at Florida International University is an option for making a confidential report to identify or raise any compliance concerns by using either the Internet or a telephone line.
The Hotline is not maintained on the University’s systems and is not maintained by University employees. Reports can be filed anonymously and the reports are held securely and confidentially on an external system. Convercent, the commercial service provider for the Ethical Panther line, was chosen for its quality and experience in servicing numerous institutions of higher education throughout the United States.
Core values of the University are honesty, integrity and truth. As public employees of the State of Florida, we seek to provide assurance to our University community and the State of Florida at large, that our conduct is in accordance with high ethical standards and compliance with applicable laws, regulations and policies. An effective reporting system can be our most useful tool in reducing losses due to fraud and abuse. The Ethical Panther line is a mechanism that allows members of the University community to raise compliance concerns without having to disclose their name or even department.
Convercent is an independent vendor that provides a comprehensive and confidential Internet and telephone based reporting tool to give University faculty, staff and students an anonymous and confidential way to address misconduct in the workplace or classroom setting due to mismanagement of funds, fraud, abuse or other violations of laws, University policies or regulations.
You should report any situation in your workplace or University environment which you believe may be contrary to law, regulation, government contract, grant requirement, or University policy.
You may have initial knowledge of an activity that may be cause for concern. You do not need to know the exact law or requirement, or be certain a violation has occurred or will occur. If you suspect something may be wrong, the best course of action is always to report it. Your reporting can minimize the potential negative impact on the University and its employees. Examples of some of the concerns you would report include: theft; wage or hour abuses; conflict of interest; misuse of University property or equipment; misuse of data; identity theft; disregard for safety rules; environmental abuse concerns; NCAA violations; and intentional misuse of the University's network or computers.
Although you may also report instances of discrimination or sexual harassment using the Ethical Panther line, it is usually preferable that these be reported through a supervisor, the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs and Diversity or the Division of Human Resources directly. It is often very difficult to investigate these types of concerns when the person who makes the complaint wishes to remain anonymous.
Please remember that this service is not to be used in case of emergencies. If an emergency, dial 911. If you are on the Modesto Maidique Campus or Biscayne Bay Campus, you should dial Public Safety at 305-348-5911 or 305-348-2626 in the event of an emergency.
You can. But there are several good reasons why you may consider using Convercent as well. First, Convercent ensures that your report gets to the appropriate people. That may or may not happen if you report something to your supervisor, especially when dealing with issues not under his/her control. More importantly, reports can be filed anonymously and all report information is secure and held in the strictest confidence.
Yes, however that is not the best approach. IF THE CHILD IS IN IMMINENT DANGER, please call 911 or the University Police Department EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS: 24 Hours – 7 Days a Week; MMC: (305) 348-5911 BBC: (305) 919-5911 or MMC (305) 348-2626 or BBC & EC (305) 919-5559.
In all other instances, if you suspect that a child is being abused, abandoned or neglected, contact the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) at 1-800-962-2873 to make a report.
You may access the Ethics and Compliance Hotline at http://www.convercent.com/report/ or by calling 1-844-312-5358, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. By giving you choices, Convercent helps ensure that faculty, staff and students can file a report anonymously and in the manner most comfortable or convenient to them.
Reports submitted via Convercent are handled as promptly and discreetly as possible. Your concerns are first referred to the Convercent Reports Review Committee (“Committee”) consisting of the University Compliance Officer, the Vice President for Human Resources and the Internal Audit Director. The Committee reviews all reports that come in to determine the University’s immediate and initial response and also to determine what other University personnel, if any, must be involved in the investigation and ultimate resolution of this matter. Relevant information will only be shared with other University personnel if it is necessary or appropriate to investigate or resolve a matter. Convercent and the University are each committed to safeguarding the confidentiality of individuals who submit reports whenever possible. Further, no one submitting a report will be subjected to retaliatory action for inquiring about possible criminal, unethical, or otherwise inappropriate activity or behavior, or reporting them in good faith. You may file a report at http://www.convercent.com/report/ or by calling 1-844-312-5358.
You will be greeted by an Convercent call center staff person. You will be asked to provide the same information that you would provide if you were using the online report form. The interviewer will type your responses into the system and use that to generate an electronic report. These electronic reports have the same security and confidentiality protections as a report that you would enter directly online.
When you file a report, you will receive a unique report key number and will be asked to establish a password. This will allow you to return to the Convercent site to enter additional information, respond to questions that university officials may have as they review your report, or follow up on a report.
With your unique report key number and password, you are able to return to the Convercent system again either by Internet or telephone and access the original report to add further information or to answer questions posed by the University officials or representatives. We strongly suggest that you return to the site within five to seven business days to assist in answering any questions that would help to resolve any open issues. You and the University now have entered into an “anonymous dialogue” which may help clarify and resolve a situation, no matter how complex.
No. Faculty and staff should know that direct discussion with one’s supervisor is usually the most effective way to raise a compliance concern. The University also maintains a Compliance Directory available here that lists those individuals with significant compliance responsibilities over diverse subject matter areas. These individuals are also available to listen to and address compliance concerns.
You are expected to act in “good faith” when making a report. This means that you are expected to provide information you know or suspect is true. Providing a report based on information you know is false can be hurtful to individuals who have not done anything wrong. Therefore, purposefully filing a false or malicious report can constitute grounds for disciplinary action.
Typically, the best place to raise a concern or ask a question is within your own college or department through supervisory or department channels. Faculty and staff can also raise their compliance concerns directly to the Office of Internal Audit, the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of University Compliance & Integrity, or the Division of Human Resources.
Many areas of the University have also identified a specific person to handle questions or reports about something you think may be wrong. You may also be able to raise your concerns with specific University offices established to handle certain types of issues. Please refer to the University Compliance Directory for point persons with compliance responsibilities over diverse subject matter areas. You may access the University Compliance Directory here.
The Convercent system is designed to protect the reporter’s anonymity and confidentiality. An Internet portal never identifies a visitor by screen name and the Convercent system strips away Internet addresses so that anonymity is totally maintained. Plus, Convercent is contractually committed not to pursue a reporter’s identity.
However, you should ensure that the body of the report does not reveal your identity by accident, for example, “from my desk next to John Murray…” or “In my 7 years, 3 months and 4 days with this department…” If you are the only individual who could possibly know the reported facts, there may be an unintended disclosure of your identity. The University will honor and protect your request for confidentiality to the extent possible as it fulfills its obligations in responding to the report.
Please note that Florida International University is subject to the State of Florida public records law. While we can protect any documents or identifying information you have provided while the investigation is ongoing, once the investigation closes, we may need to turn over certain documents or identifying information in response to a public records request. Both Florida International University, as well as Convercent, will protect the confidentiality of the information we receive from you to the maximum extent permissible under applicable law.
The length of an investigation depends upon many factors, such as the complexity of the issue, the number of people involved, the nature and extent of documents or other evidence involved, and the urgency of the matter. We recommend that you follow up on the report you have made within five to seven business days. We will let your know if we have any follow up questions or request that you provide to us additional information, if possible. At that time, we will let you know an estimated date of completion though this is only a preliminary estimate that may change as we delve into the reported facts.