Sandia LabNews

Ethics a catalyst for a better Sandia


Ethical decisions aren’t always clear cut. So many pros and cons. So many choices. So many paths forward.

Sandia’s Audit and Ethics center helps staff make principled decisions and fosters a positive, professional and respectful culture for the Labs.

Sandia’s Ethics office was established in 1993 and has grown to include corporate and Equal Employment Opportunity investigations. The Ethics/EEO Department seeks to act as a catalyst for a better Sandia.

Many are familiar with Ethics/EEO as an investigative team, but much of their time is spent helping staff make ethical decisions based on the Labs’ policies, the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct and Sandia’s Core Values.

Can I accept an Amazon gift card as a door prize? Should I update my Personal Conflict of Interest form because I joined the school board? Should I accept an honorarium for giving a presentation at a conference?

Ethics officers can provide advice on all these ethical dilemmas and more. Contact them online or at the anonymous helpline, 505-845-9900, or by email to ethicsteam@sandia.gov.

There is never a penalty for contacting Ethics, and it’s always advisable to “ask before you act!”

Ethics/EEO conducts neutral and objective investigations of concerns or allegations of work-related misconduct. Ethics officers examine allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, theft, violence or threat of violence in the workplace; allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation; and allegations of compliance, employee conduct and personal conflicts of interest.

To help staff better understand their own role in investigations, Ethics/EEO has published informational documents under “Learn more about investigations.” They offer information for those who report information to Ethics/EEO, or are the subject of an investigation, a witness in an investigation or the manager of the subject of an investigation.

Additionally, the Ethics office will be sharing case studies of past ethical dilemmas in upcoming issues of Lab News.

During the first three quarters of fiscal year 2021, Ethics/EEO received 545 calls on its anonymous helpline. The vast majority were resolved informally by Ethics officers who provided guidance to callers or conducted brief inquiries to determine whether a policy or Code of Ethics violation occurred.

As to the rest, the officers opened 47 investigations into 58 different allegations, with the difference attributable to investigations that included more than one allegation. Decisions are reached on each allegation investigated. Outcomes of the 58 allegations investigated are shown in the chart accompanying this article. Some level of corrective action resulted for all substantiated allegations.

The Ethics office encourages staff to seek advice or express concerns about ethical misconduct to managers, Human Resources Business partners, the Inclusion, Diversity, EEO and AA organization or an Ethics officer. All members of Sandia’s workforce are essential to creating a respectful, positive and ethical environment. The Ethics officers act as catalysts for your best decision-making.