There is an important clarification I would like to offer regarding the two whistleblower bills reported on in yesterday’s Daily Sundial. I did not say that the “extra cost [of AB 708] had to do with AB 706.” Other than the fact that both address the issue of protecting whistleblowers, the bills are not fiscally or otherwise related.
?AB 706 is the CSU Trustee-sponsored bill which seeks to add language to the Education Code that would afford CSU employees the same shield for identity protection and confidentiality that is afforded to those disclosing improprieties to the State Auditor.
As I explained when I was interviewed, whistleblower complaints filed by CSU employees to designated system administrators are currently subject to the Public Records Act. Thus, the complainant’s identity could not be shielded, nor could the investigative audits be kept confidential.
?AB 708, sponsored by the California State Employees Association, initially required the CSU to employ an independent investigator on all complaints. CSU did oppose this bill, as introduced, because the system believes that existing law and CSU Executive Orders, already provide adequate protection for whistleblowers. The CSU was not persuaded that employing an external investigator would provide a better process, and further was concerned about the costs that would be incurred if such a requirement were mandated.
When Assembly Member Betty Karnette, the author of AB 708, amended her bill to remove the mandate for the independent investigator, CSU removed its opposition to her bill.
I did state and do believe that AB 706 is the better bill because it provides more protection to the complainant.