On the last Friday in April, John Drake sat at his desk in The Office of State Supply reading the agency’s whistleblowing guidelines, for what must have been the fifteenth time, waiting for four o’clock. John was convinced he was doing the right thing but he was also aware of what often happened to whistleblowers, despite all the words in the Act.
He also knew it was too late to regret looking at things he hadn’t been asked to investigate, even though he wished he hadn’t let his curiosity get the better of him during the slow period around Easter, when he’d started opening folders on the share drive and reading the contracts behind the payments he administered.
Initially, he’d thought it would be interesting to know the specific terms and conditions in the individual contracts. Then he’d decided it would be useful to understand the agency’s procurement policies and guidelines, since the agency was charged with getting the best value for the government’s dollars when buying products and services.
When he’d noticed that some of the more expensive cleaning contracts hadn’t been awarded to the companies that had submitted the most competitive tenders during the last round of contract reviews, he’d looked into the companies those contracts had gone to, and found a pattern of common ownership.
Aware that contract reviews were conducted by a three person committee of senior officers, that included Sonya Curtis, the head of the agency, he knew there was no way he would be confronting any of them directly. He was intimidated by every one of them, especially Sonya Curtis, who was known among officers at John’s level as ‘The Bitch’.
John knew he had to tell someone or he wouldn’t be living up to his obligations as a public servant. After a week of anxious deliberation, he’d decided to escalate his concerns to the Auditor General, which was one of the options available to him in the whistleblowing guidelines. But, because he would be reporting senior officers, he’d decided it would be prudent to discuss his concerns with Pam Watson, his immediate supervisor, just to be sure he hadn’t misunderstood something.
At four o’clock, he put two copies of the document he’d compiled into his bag, picked up the third copy he’d printed for Pam, and walked over to her office.
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