Northern Illinois University (NIU) is committed to advancing ethical behavior throughout the workplace and campus community. Consistent with the university’s mission, the Ethics and Accountability in the Workplace Policy (Ethics Policy) outlines expectations of university employees as public servants, supported by and accountable to the people of the State of Illinois.

The Ethics Policy, along with applicable state and federal laws and administrative agencies, govern the ethical decision-making and behavior of university employees. Additional information regarding the Ethics Policy, applicable laws, and agencies may be found below. If you would like more information, have questions, or would like guidance pertaining to ethics-related matters, please contact Sarah Garner, Ethics and Compliance Officer, at 815-753-5560 or niuethicsofficer@niu.edu.

Illinois Executive Ethics Commission

The Illinois Executive Ethics Commission (ECC) is comprised of nine appointed commissioners, each serving a four-year term. The Executive Ethics Commission's duties include: conducting administrative hearings on alleged violations of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (Illinois Ethics Act), providing guidance to ethics officers, and overseeing ethics training for all employees of the executive branch of state government. For more information visit the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission website.

Office of Executive Inspector General

For university employees, the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor (OEIG)  serves as the executive inspector general. This position is appointed by the governor of the state of Illinois for a term of five years.

Established in 2003, the OEIG acts as an independent state agency whose primary function is to investigate fraud, abuse and violations of laws, rules and policies in state government. It responds to reports and investigates allegations of misconduct by the employees, appointees, elected officials, and state vendors under its jurisdiction. The OEIG may also initiate investigations without receipt of a specific complaint.

The OEIG's jurisdiction includes state public universities, the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, and all state agencies and departments of the executive branch of state government, except for those agencies under the jurisdiction of the Offices of the Attorney General, the Comptroller, the Treasurer, and Secretary of State.

Additionally, the OEIG has the responsibility for investigating reported misconduct by those (such as contractors or vendors) who conduct business with state employees or entities under the OEIG's jurisdiction.

Cooperating with External Investigations

If you are asked by an individual from the OEIG to participate in an investigation, the law requires that you cooperate. In order to conduct their business in a confidential manner, the investigators may ask that you not share any details of your discussion. You are expected to respond to the questions of the investigator fully and factually, without inference or presumption.

Upon being contacted, you will have an opportunity, if you wish, to ask whether you are the subject of an investigation or a witness and whether you can have another person attend the meeting with you (e.g., union representative, personal attorney, friend, or co-worker). Though your ethics officer is unable to discuss the details of your interview, they can assist in regard to further explaining the law and the related process.

Additionally, your ethics officer is a resource to assist in the collection and delivery of documents requested by the OEIG to ensure compliance with state and federal privacy requirements such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and  Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). All requests for documents and materials from university employees by OEIG will be made in writing so you are able to understand what is being requested of you. 

It is important to cooperate with an OEIG investigation as failure to cooperate is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Additionally, honesty and integrity in the process crucial. All spoken or written statements to the OEIG, whether in reporting an incident or participating in an investigation, must be truthful and believed to be factual by the communicating employee.

Reporting Possible or Alleged Misconduct

University employees must promptly report actual or suspected violations of laws, rules, or regulations by another state employee that they become aware of during the course of their employment. This is not only required by the Ethics Policy but is also your ethical duty as a state employee. Additionally, any student, volunteer or third party has the right to submit a report.

Reports are made to the university’s ethics officer or to the OEIG. To file a report with the university, you may file a report online, email  niuethicsofficer@niu.edu, or call 815-753-5560. To report a non-emergency violation of law, rule or regulation to the OEIG, you may contact the OEIG via its toll-free hotline at 866-814-1113, or file a report online. The OEIG may also be contacted toll-free via a text telephone/telecommunications device for the deaf (TTY at 888-261-2734.

In the event of an emergency situation requiring an immediate police response, you should contact the Illinois State Police or the county, municipal or campus police agency that can provide the fastest response (for example, by dialing 911). Examples of emergency situations include those that involve the illegal use or possession of a weapon, bodily injury or threat of bodily injury or criminal sexual assault.

Penalties Within the Law

There are several penalties for noncompliance within the Illinois Ethics Actincluding misdemeanor criminal charges, personal fines, and discipline or discharge. It is important that you not only understand the requirements of the law, but that you comply with its various aspects. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact your ethics officer.