Lincolnshire finalizing whistleblower policy to aid in grant applications
Lincolnshire officials are finalizing a whistleblower policy as part of a fraud awareness program.
Rather than being a response to local wrongdoing, the measure is designed to improve Lincolnshire's odds of receiving state or federal grants, village officials said.
A state law called the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act was enacted in 2014 to increase accountability and transparency for grants. Overseen by the Governor's Office of Management and Budget, it's been implemented gradually.
Under the law, grant applicants are assigned risk ratings based on answers to questions about general operations, internal controls, performance measurements and other topics.
Applicants are offered guidance to improve their ratings. Lincolnshire was advised to implement a fraud awareness program that included instructions for reporting governmental fraud, waste or abuse without fear of retaliation.
Lincolnshire already has an ethics ordinance and policies to ensure proper behavior in the workplace, Village Manager Brad Burke said. Village leaders encourage employees to report fraud or dishonest practices and wouldn't retaliate against anyone who reports such actions, he said.
Even so, adopting the whistleblower policy should improve Lincolnshire's grant rating, officials said, and that could give the village an edge over other towns applying for the same competitive grants.
Additionally, the proposed policy "affirms Lincolnshire's commitment to ethical practices within its organization," Burke said.
The whistleblower policy will be just one component of the village's fraud awareness program.
Simultaneously, officials are preparing a separate policy for grant applications and use. It will define staff responsibilities, establish authority levels and provide directions for grant applications and administration.
The village board is expected to vote on both proposals May 28.
Lincolnshire Finance Director Michael Peterson is unaware of any suburban communities that have adopted whistleblower policies, but he expects some to take such action to improve their grant ratings. Waukegan has a grant policy, he said.
"We are proactively preparing for the competition and will continue to look for ways to increase our rating," Peterson said.