Fraud, Waste, & Abuse

The Office of the Independent Performance Auditor (OIPA) investigates allegations of potential fraud, waste, and abuse identified by agency staff or other stakeholders. Once the investigation into the allegations has been conducted, the Independent Performance Auditor (IPA) advises the SANDAG Audit Committee, the Office of General Counsel, or outside counsel under contract with SANDAG, on whether improper activities occurred.

How to Define Fraud, Waste, & Abuse 

“Fraud, waste, and abuse” means any activity by a local agency or employee that is undertaken in the performance of the employee‘s official duties, including activities deemed to be outside the scope of his or her employment, that is in violation of any local, state, or federal law or regulation relating to corruption, malfeasance, bribery, theft of government property, fraudulent claims, fraud, coercion, conversion, malicious prosecution, misuse of government property, or willful omission to perform duty, is economically wasteful, or involves gross misconduct.

About Fraud, Waste, & Abuse of Public Funds or Assets

The SANDAG Internal Control Standards help prevent and detect potential fraud, waste, and abuse of public funds by guiding and encouraging agency management and staff to consider, implement, and monitor good system controls.

An employee, contracted parties, member of the public, or other stakeholders of SANDAG can file a complaint with OIPA and are encouraged to file as soon as the complainant had knowledge of the alleged improper activity. An employee or applicant for employment that is subject to Government Code Section 53297 shall have the right to file a complaint within 60 days of the date of the act or event which is subject of the complaint. Prior to filing a written complaint, the employee shall first make a good faith effort to exhaust all available administrative remedies.

An employee’s personal information may remain confidential during and after the investigation to ensure their rights are protected, and will only be disclosed if determined necessary, and only to an appropriate government official, or law enforcement agency that are required to be involved in the investigation or thereafter to remedy the matter. Should a member of the public or other stakeholders of SANDAG prefer to remain anonymous, please complete the complaint form to the best of your knowledge, provide any evidence that might help support the allegation, and submit it to the address provided.

Any reprisal action taken against SANDAG employees, applicants or witnesses, because of the filing of a complaint, is strictly prohibited under Government Code Section 53297.

Please describe, under each appropriate category, the improper activity which is the subject of this complaint. Please be clear and specific, as to the facts, only as they relate to the improper SANDAG related government activities.

Improper SANDAG Government Activity means any activity, or act by an executive management, director, department, officer (elected or appointed) or employee relating to the performance of official SANDAG business, duties and responsibilities.

There are four categories that constitute improper government activity: (1) gross mismanagement, (2) significant waste of public funds, (3) abuse of authority, or (4) substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.

Gross Mismanagement means the failure to exercise even a substandard level of performance relating to the management of projects, programs, activities, functions, services and responsibilities.

Abuse of Authority means the willful exercise of authority for improper or wrongful purpose.

Your complaint must be a true and accurate account to the best of your knowledge, and you must sign under penalty of perjury (unless you are a public member or stakeholder of SANDAG reporting anonymously).

Once the IPA has reviewed and accepted your complaint, it will be investigated by the IPA.

If you move or change your phone number, remember to inform the IPA of the change. If you have questions, please call the IPA at 619.595.5323 or send a confidential email to

Return the Complaint Form to:

Attention: CONFIDENTIAL - Office of the Independent Performance Auditor
401 B Street, Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92101


Pursuant to California Labor Code Section 1102.5, employees are entitled to certain protections. “Employee” means any person employed by an employer, private or public, including, but not limited to, individuals employed by the state or any subdivision thereof, any county, city, city and county, including any charter city or county, and any school district, community college district, municipal or public corporation, political subdivision, or the University of California. [California Labor Code Section 1106] 

Frequently Asked Questions

A “whistleblower” is an employee who discloses information to a government or law enforcement agency, person with authority over the employee, or to another employee with authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or who provides information to or testifies before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses:

1. A violation of a state or federal statute,

2. A violation or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation, or

3. With reference to employee safety or health, unsafe working conditions or work practices in the employee’s employment or place of employment.

A whistleblower can also be an employee who refuses to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation.

1. An employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from being a whistleblower.

2. An employer may not retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower.

3. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation.

4. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights as a whistleblower in any former employment.

Under California Labor Code Section 1102.5, if an employer retaliates against a whistleblower, the employer may be required to reinstate the employee’s employment and work benefits, pay lost wages, and take other steps necessary to comply with the law.

If you have information regarding possible violations of state or federal statutes, rules, or regulations, or violations of fiduciary responsibility by a corporation or limited liability company to its shareholders, investors, or employees, call the California State Attorney General’s Whistleblower Hotline at 1.800.952.5225. The Attorney General will refer your call to the appropriate government authority for review and possible investigation.