The Atlanta Department of Watershed Management recently conducted an internal investigation after reports of theft and mismanagement arose from within the organization. Soon afterward, the department fired 13 unnamed employees, although the Atlanta mayor’s spokeswoman declined to comment on whether they were fired as a direct result of the investigation’s findings.
The agency has been the target of a great deal of recent scrutiny. City leaders discovered that hundreds of thousands of dollars were lost due to missing or stolen city equipment, including 28 industrial water meters (each of which weighing 700 pounds and worth more than $5,000 apiece), copper, pipes and a backhoe worth $80,000.
The city launched the investigation after several department employees, including water and sewer workers, alerted the Atlanta city council of the issues, which were alleged to have been the work of a criminal ring involving middle management at the agency. The city of Atlanta’s legal department, the police department and the city auditor each conducted an investigation of the Department of Watershed Management, as did an outside legal firm.
Conducting a swift investigation
Although it’s always a black eye for an agency or organization to have to fire so many employees after an internal investigation reveals criminal behavior, it appears to have been the right move for the department. This is yet another case that shows the importance of whistleblowers in ensuring that organizations — especially government agencies — continue to operate legally and ethically.
For more information about this case or to learn more about your options when exposing wrongdoing, consult the skilled attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers in Dallas.