Computing Cases Header, Picture of a Keyboard with the text "" printed over it

How the Hotline for Reporting Fraud Works 

The Office of Inspector General for the United States Military has as one of its goals overseeing the manufacture and procurement of military hardware so that the U.S. Government gets its money's worth in these transactions.

The Inspector General runs a hotline for reporting waste, fraud, and abuse. When the problems at Hughes surfaced, Margaret Goodearl had the option of calling a telephone number to report those problems to an outside auditor like the Inspector General's Hotline. Going outside of an organization's channels like this is called whistleblowing, and though it looks easy to do, it can produce significant hardship for the whistleblower. Supervisors feel like their trust has been betrayed, co-workers can avoid or gang up against you, and the organization can isolate and eventually, fire you.

For this reason, hotline for reporting problems are usually confidential. This is the way the Inspector General's hotline is set up. You can read all about this at the hotline website the Inspector General has set up. Of course, in 1985, when the problems at Hughes surfaced, the web was not an option, but Goodearl and others working at the plant knew about the hotline because brochures about it were passed out.

Here is how the hotline worked then (and now, except you can now use email):

  1. The person who wants to lodge a complaint makes the call and is connected to an investigator
  2. The investigator will ask a series of questions (who, what, where, when, how, and why) to get the background needed to investigate the complaint.
  3. The caller can remain anonymous (no identifying information is given) or can give information so he or she can be contacted for additional information. If contact information is given, it is kept confidential (not shared with anyone)
  4. The investigator will assign the case a number for reference and will begin the process of checking on it.
  5. In some cases, this results in charges against the offending party, in others, there is not enough evidence to substantiate a case.

If the case is substantiated, it may be resolved internally, or it may be resolved in the federal court system. For more information on how whistleblowing works, see our section on whistleblowing