Whistleblowing

How to raise a concern

If you, as a public employee or as a member of the public, have concerns about the use of taxpayers’ or ratepayers’ money which you wish to raise with the NIAO, you are encouraged to contact us. We welcome these approaches and they will, if you wish, be treated in confidence. Contact details are given below.

What concerns can NIAO deal with?

You may raise concerns with the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) about:

  • the proper conduct of public business
  • value for money; and
  • fraud and corruption

in relation to the provision of centrally funded public services and health services.

You may raise concerns with the Local Government Auditor (LGA) about:

  • the proper conduct of public business
  • value for money; and
  • fraud and corruption

in relation to local councils, the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee and the Local Government Staff Commission for Northern Ireland.

How will concerns be evaluated?

If you raise concerns, the C&AG and LGA will evaluate the information as audit evidence, in the context of their respective positions as the external auditors for central and local government.  This evaluation will take account of a range of factors including:

  • professional judgement;
  • audit experience;
  • whether there is a “public interest” element to the issue; and
  • whether the concerns indicate serious impropriety, irregularity or value for money issues.

Based on this evaluation, a range of options for further action will be considered, for example additional audit testing, or a decision may be made not to take any further action.  The C&AG and LGA are not required to undertake investigations on behalf of individuals.   

Public Sector Employees

If you are a public sector employee, the following legislation applies:

Public Interest Disclosure (NI) Order 1998

The Public Interest Disclosure (NI) Order 1998 provides recourse to an employment tribunal if you suffer detriment, such as dismissal or other sanction, as a result of raising concerns which you believe, in good faith, to be true. Your case at tribunal is strengthened if you raise your concerns with your employer in the first instance. Your employer’s policy for raising concerns should tell you how you can do this safely.  The Public Interest Disclosure Order will also apply if you raise your concerns externally to the relevant “prescribed person”.

The following links will take you to the legislation

Do Get Advice

If your employer does not have an internal whistleblowing policy and you are unsure how to raise your concern internally or externally, do get advice. You can contact NIAO by telephone, email or letter (see below) or contact Public Concern at Work, a charity specialising in providing advice for whistleblowers, on 020 7404 6609 or at whistle@pcaw.org.uk

Contact Details

There are three ways in which you can raise concerns with NIAO:

By post:

To make a disclosure to the C&AG, write to:

The Comptroller and Auditor General
Northern Ireland Audit Office
106 University Street
BELFAST
BT7 1EU

To make a disclosure to a Local Government Auditor, write to:

The Local Government Auditor
Northern Ireland Audit Office
106 University Street
BELFAST
BT7 1EU

By email:

To make a disclosure relating to either central or local government, email: whistleblowing@niauditoffice.gov.uk

By telephone:

To speak to someone about a disclosure in relation to central or local government, please telephone (028) 9025 1062 or (028) 9025 1000.