The Dunedin City Council is moving to make it easier for
whistle-blowers to speak out, but still has ''a fair bit of
work to do'' to tighten other internal policies, senior
The proposed change came as the council's audit and risk
subcommittee, meeting yesterday for just the second time,
considered a schedule of 12 internal council policies it was
now responsible for overseeing.
The policies, ranging from risk management to staff travel
and fraud prevention, were designed to promote good
governance while protecting the organisation and its staff.
Most already existed, but the committee aimed to develop a
plan of how and when they were reviewed, chairwoman Susie
The list included the council's protected disclosure
''whistle-blower'' policy, first drafted in 2000, which was
That policy set out a procedure by which council staff could
raise concerns with a list of nominated senior managers, or
the council chief executive, if they suspected wrongdoing
within the organisation.
The revised policy, if approved, would allow council staff to
complain to an ''independent, external person'' outside the
council, council corporate services group manager Sandy
Graham told the Otago Daily Times.
The policy already allowed council staff to go directly to an
''appropriate authority'' outside the council, such as the
Police Commissioner, if needed, she said.
However, the change was expected to make it easier for a
council staff member to contact an independent person ''if
people think they need it'', she said.
The revised policy would be based on those adopted by other
organisations, such as the Southern District Health Board,
and would include a ''plain English summary'' to make it
easier for staff, she said.
''[It would] make it really clear to all staff what the
options are if they want to make a protected disclosure,''
The candidate for the independent role was not yet confirmed,
but changes to the policy were expected to be signed off by
the subcommittee in the next few months, she said.
The proposed change came as independent financial consultant
Deloitte continued its investigation into an alleged $1
million fraud within the Dunedin City Council's Citifleet
However, Ms Graham said the fraud investigation had not
prompted the change to the council's whistleblower policy.
Instead, the wider review of council policies initiated last
year, of which the revised whistleblower policy was one, had
uncovered the alleged fraud.
Council group chief financial officer Grant McKenzie,
speaking at yesterday's meeting, said other council policies
- including for conflicts of interest and IT security - also
needed more work.
''There's a fair bit of work we need to do in this area,'' he
Good internal controls and policies were about ''keeping
people safe'' within the organisation, he said.
''I think that's something we need to drive throughout the
Mrs Johnstone said the list of policies the subcommittee was
responsible for could grow.
However, the initial focus would be on the council's health
and safety, internal audits, fraud prevention and
whistleblower policies, including how and when they were to
be revised, she said.