Every USC employee shares the university’s responsibility to comply with laws and regulations governing a variety of activities, including but not limited to research, healthcare, privacy and security, employment practices, environmental health and safety, financial aid, athletics and conflict of interest. This policy outlines the responsibilities of all USC employees with regard to investigations, monitoring reviews, and recommendations of the USC Office of Compliance (OOC) and other departments charged with conducting compliance-related reviews and investigations.
Neither the university nor any employee may retaliate, or threaten or attempt to retaliate, against anyone for making a report or assisting in an investigation or monitoring review under this policy.
In order to adhere to the highest standards of integrity, all employees should promptly report suspected or known violations of USC policy or of laws relating to USC matters to their immediate manager, department chair or dean, or to the USC Help and Hotline at (213) 740-2500 (on a confidential basis if desired). Reports by or about faculty may also be made to the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs at (213) 740-6715, and reports by or about staff may also be made to the Associate Senior Vice President, Human Resources at (213) 821-8100. Managers and department chairs must promptly inform the OOC of any reported or suspected violations of law or regulation of which they become aware; deans must report such matters to the OOC or to the Provost or the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs.
See the Reporting Wrongdoing policy for additional reporting avenues depending on the incidents.
Nothing in this policy requires an employee to breach legally protected confidences or privileges, except as permitted by law.
Cooperating with OOC Investigations or Monitoring Reviews
The OOC may investigate a variety of activities subject to regulatory oversight and recommend changes to the appropriate deans or administrator(s). Such investigations may be performed internally by the OOC or by outside consultants to determine if a violation of law or policy has occurred or is likely to occur; to attempt to identify the person or persons responsible for the violation; to determine circumstances surrounding the violation; and to make recommendations to prevent future violations.
The OOC also conducts monitoring reviews to ensure the university’s continued compliance with relevant laws, regulations and policies. These reviews may be performed internally or by outside consultants to review internal controls and procedures; proactively determine whether the university is in compliance with applicable federal and state laws, regulations, and policies; and make recommendations to prevent future violations. The frequency of reviews and/or length of time to complete are dependent on the nature of the issue being monitored.
USC employees are required to cooperate with the OOC by responding promptly, completely and accurately to requests related to either investigations or monitoring reviews.
Responding to OOC Recommendations and Requests for Corrective Action
Departments are responsible for implementing OOC-recommended corrective action to improve departmental controls for preventing future violations. If a school or unit fails to take appropriate action, the OOC will present the findings to the Provost or Senior Vice President, Administration or their authorized designees, as appropriate. In addition, the OOC is also required to make periodic reports to the Audit and Compliance Committee of the Board of Trustees regarding the status of recommendation/correction implementation.
Employee disciplinary actions will be handled as described below.
Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy represents serious neglect of duty and misconduct and is grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination, in compliance with applicable staff policies or the Faculty Handbook.
If OOC recommends employee discipline, those recommendations will be made directly to the Associate Senior Vice President for Human Resources or his/her designee for staff, or the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs or his/her designee for faculty. Any disciplinary action against a faculty or staff member under this policy must take account of the scale of the offense, the individual’s intent, and the degree of wrongdoing.
The Associate Senior Vice President of Human Resources, in consultation with the OOC, will prescribe the disciplinary action for staff and communicate it to both the department and the employee. The employee may file a written appeal with the Senior Vice President, Administration, within 14 calendar days of his/her receipt of notice of the disciplinary action. The Senior Vice President, Administration, will respond to the employee’s appeal within 21 calendar days.
In the case of faculty, the dean may accept the OOC investigation or review findings as part of Step 1 of the faculty dismissal process described in the Faculty Handbook; that process will then be followed. Any lesser discipline imposed by the dean may be appealed to the Provost, and also may be a subject of grievance heard by the Committee on Faculty Tenure and Privileges Appeals.
For credentialed clinical faculty members of the Keck School of Medicine or the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, the findings also will, as appropriate, be presented to the relevant credentialing or privileging committee for suitable action.
The university may also seek criminal prosecution for any misappropriation or other violation of law, as applicable.
Office of Professionalism and Ethics
Michael Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs
Todd R. Dickey, Senior Vice President, Administration
University of Southern California