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WSU enhances ethics compliance resources

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Washington State University is bolstering its support for employees who have questions about their ethical obligations under state law.

Sherry Gordon, former senior counsel for the Attorney General’s WSU office, was recently brought on to serve as the university’s ethics compliance advisor. In that role, Gordon will assist employees across the system with questions about topics such as contracting with state agencies, use of state resources and others that fall under the Ethics in Public Service Act.

“Ethics compliance is so critical,” Gordon said. “Being the person everyone can ask about it is something I appreciate and look forward to doing.”

Gordon is taking on a role held since 2005 by Heather Lopez, who leads WSU’s Office of Internal Audit.

The Office of Internal Audit performs audits and provides management assurance of of internal controls in the areas of governance, operations, finance, and information technology. Internal Audit also performs investigations of potential ethics violations and fraud or misappropriation of assets. Lopez spent more than a decade balancing the responsibility of answering employee’s ethics questions with her investigatory role within the department.

“An ethics advisor provides guidance to individual employees to navigate the ethics laws, we felt we needed to separate that advisory role from investigations of individual employees suspected of violating ethics,” Lopez said.

With the number of questions from employees increasing and the desire to build out WSU’s compliance program across the system and strengthen its culture of compliance, splitting off the role of the ethics advisor (compliance) from investigation made sense, said Sharyl Kammerzell, associate vice president and chief compliance and risk officer.

Gordon will also develop trainings on ethics for different groups within the WSU community. Lopez will remain in her role as chief audit executive within Internal Audit, and continue to focus on audits and investigations.

With Gordon’s hiring, WSU has also launched a new ethics website. The site includes access to  resources as well as Gordon’s contact information for those who have questions.

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