Northeastern Illinois University
Abby J. Clark, Interim Ethics Officer
5500 North St. Louis Avenue│Room C 220
Chicago, IL 60625
Phone: (309) 673-1681
How to Report an Ethics Violation
Northeastern encourages faculty and staff to discuss their ethics concerns with the University Ethics Office (please see contact information above). Employees also have the option of reporting believed violations of the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act outside of the University to the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor (OEIG) via their toll-free hotline at (866) 814-1113. Individuals should report what they believe, in good faith, to be ethics-related fraud, political activity or misconduct at the University. Please see the Office of Executive Inspector General's informational materials for OEIG complaints here.
Why You Should Report and Non-Retaliation
It is a campus-wide obligation for all employees to follow the state ethics law, namely the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. Maintaining an environment free from ethics violations benefits the University and everyone in the campus community. We encourage you to not be discouraged from reporting because you fear retaliation. Retaliation protections can be located in the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430/15-5). No employee may be disciplined, lose their job, or be retaliated against for asking questions or raising an ethics concern, when acting in good faith.
The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430/20-95) specifically states that documents generated by an Ethics Officer are exempt from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140); hence it is rare for the findings of an investigation to be publicly reported or shared with the reporting party. Results of investigations are kept confidential and are shared on a need to know basis only.
Reports may be filed anonymously via email, U.S. mail, campus mail, or telephone call. While reports may be submitted anonymously, it is important to share information that is specific enough to allow for assessment and review of the allegations. Since there cannot be any back-and-forth between a reporting party and the Ethics Office in an anonymous report, it is crucial to share all relevant information in the original submission, to the best extent possible.
Initial Review – reported complaints and allegations are reviewed by the Ethics Officer or designee to determine whether sufficient information exists to initiate an inquiry.
Assignment of Review – If after initial review, an investigation is determined to be warranted, the Ethics Office conducts and/or coordinates the investigation. A neutral third-party investigator may be needed to conduct the investigation if there is a conflict of interest or the appearance of one with respect to the Ethics Officer, or if the Ethics Officer is unavailable to conduct the investigation.
Review of Facts – An independent and objective review of information available to the University is conducted. Information gathered through review of materials and interviews, as necessary, is evaluated to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support a conclusion regarding the ethics-related complaint or allegation. If appropriate, an investigation report will be prepared.
Communication of the Results – The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act mandates that the results of an ethics investigation should be shared on a need-to-know basis only. The subject of an investigation may be provided a copy of the investigation report under certain circumstances, i.e., if a violation is found and sanctions or penalties shall be imposed.
Sanctions or Penalties – The University President and Vice President of the employee’s area, in consultation with the General Counsel, determine which sanctions or penalties apply when there are violations of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.
If the University President is the subject of the ethics investigation, the Board of Trustees may be asked to participate in Steps 4 and 5 above.
Finally, if an employee reports an alleged ethics violation to the Board of Trustees that is not specific to the President, such matter will be referred to the University for action.
Matters that Don't Fall Under Ethics
The NEIU Ethics Office also serves as a resource for employees who are not sure where to report an item or obtain information and/or direction. If you are unsure where to report something, please contact this office and we can work to put you in contact with the appropriate resources to address your concerns.
Reference: University of Illinois System Ethics Page
employee ethics training
Northeastern Illinois University administers an ethics training program through the Office of the Executive Inspector General (OEIG) of the State of Illinois. From the OEIG’s website:
In conjunction with the Executive Ethics Commission and in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, the OEIG oversees an ethics training program for approximately 175,000 employees, appointees, and officials of public entities under the OEIG’s jurisdiction.
The various courses offered under this program are intended to educate public employees and appointees regarding issues of ethics and integrity and specifically about laws and policies that govern their conduct. Under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, these public employees and appointees are required to complete ethics training at least annually. Furthermore, new employees, appointees, and officials are required to complete ethics training within 30 days of the commencement of their employment or office.
OTHER OEIG RESOURCES
In addition to mandatory ethics training, the OEIG will also, from time to time, offer materials for state employees’ reference, such as:
Governor Limits Employees Gifts under the State Ethics Law
Northeastern employees should be aware of recent and important changes to the state ethics law, the State Official and Employees Ethics Act. A new Executive Order imposes significant limitations on the acceptance of gifts. As state employees, Northeastern employees are generally prohibited by law from accepting any gifts from a “prohibited source” (individuals or entities who are seeking official action from the University, conducting or seeking to do business with the University, are regulated by the University, are Illinois lobbyists, or who are immediate family members of any individuals falling into the preceding categories). Certain exceptions permitted Northeastern employees to accept gifts, including the $75 food and refreshments exemption, and the $100 gift exemption. 5 ILCS 430/10-15 These exemptions have been significantly curtailed.
Per the governor’s Executive Order 15-09, food and refreshments offered by a prohibited source may be accepted by a state employee only when provided de minimis at a business meeting or reception attended by the employee as part their official duties. This means the prior $75 food and refreshments exemption from the state ethics law is NO LONGER applicable. Additionally, Executive Order 15-09 removes the exception permitting state employees to accept small gifts during the calendar year having a cumulative total value of less than $100.
Accordingly, Northeastern employees may only accept de minimis food and refreshments from prohibited sources. Examples of de minimis food and refreshments include a boxed lunch, or one soda or cocktail at an evening event. In the alternative, Northeastern employees may pay out of pocket for food and refreshments that exceed the de minimis amount, or partake and donate the cost of the food and refreshments to a nonprofit charity. In addition, Northeastern employees may no longer accept ANY small gifts totaling less than $100. The revised state ethics law will be strictly construed by the state ethics office.
Please contact the University’s Ethics Officer with any questions.