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Recognizing Wrongdoing

DOI works tirelessly to root out municipal corruption wherever it is found. The agency ensures that public servants behave honestly and work efficiently, that public money is spent appropriately and that the integrity, effectiveness and credibility of New York City government is preserved. Reporting fraud, corruption, waste, abuse or mismanagement is crucial to integrity in City government. And, this is why DOI wants you to know how to recognize corruption, fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement. Here is some information to help you help us fulfill our mission.


Listed below are crimes, and their elements, that you as a City employee should be familiar with. 

What is a Bribe?(NYS Penal Law)

A public servant is guilty of bribe receiving when he/she solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any benefit from another person upon an agreement or understanding that his/her vote, opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant will thereby be influenced.

Bribery includes any offer of a benefit to a public servant on the understanding that the public servant's official action will be influenced. City employees are public servants.

Some examples of bribery and bribe receiving situations include:

  • A City employee, whose job it is to conduct inspections of a contractor's work, offers to refrain from reporting unsatisfactory work on a building in exchange for money or some other thing of value (e.g., supplies; free or discounted work on the employee's house; jewelry; a car; a trip; lunch).
  • A contractor offers to pay a City employee a percentage of each contract or open market order the contractor receives from the City in exchange for being guaranteed future contracts.
  • An inspector agrees to allow a firm to dump hazardous waste into a City river in exchange for a cash payment.

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Recognizing a Bribe Offer

The offering, giving, solicitation or acceptance of a bribe or gratuity, to or by an official of the City of New York - and this means you - is a violation of the New York State Penal Law and other applicable federal statutes. It is important to note that an item of value does not have to exchange hands for the crime to have been committed. The mere offer to solicit the bribe or gratuity is a criminal activity.

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Why Should You Report a Bribe Attempt?

  1. You may feel that it is too much trouble to report a bribe offer. Remember, you are mandated by law to report bribe offers, as well as other corrupt activity, and are subject to dismissal or disciplinary action for failing to do so.
  2. The person making the offer may already be under investigation or may be taking part in an undercover operation - failure to report the offer may be considered as evidence against you in a later criminal prosecution.
  3. If you fail to report the offer, the briber may continue to make such offers in the future, and ultimately you may succumb to the temptation.
  4. If a person who offered you a bribe, or offered another public servant a bribe in your presence is later prosecuted, this person may implicate you in an attempt to help himself in his criminal case. If you had reported the bribe offer, you might have avoided making yourself the subject of a later criminal investigation.
  5. More importantly, each of us should take the responsibility to protect each other against those that would corrupt the systems and contribute to hazardous conditions which ultimately have a negative affect on us all.

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What is a Gratuity? (NYS Penal Law)

A public servant is guilty of receiving unlawful gratuities when he solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any benefit for having engaged in official conduct which he was required or authorized to perform, and for which he was not entitled to any special or additional compensation.

A gratuity is any unauthorized payment or other benefit, even a "tip" or lunch money, beyond the salary and official benefits paid by the City, to public servants for doing anything in connection with their job.

It may solely be a reward to an employee in appreciation for performing his work. Often the payment of gratuities precedes more elaborate bribery schemes. Gratuities are frequently given to gain the confidence of the target of a bribe.

Some examples of unlawful gratuities include:

  • A tax payer takes an auditor out to dinner or gives the auditor money during the holidays to thank the auditor for his/her work.
  • A vendor gives a City employee a discount on the purchase of supplies after the employee purchases items for use at City-owned properties and facilities.
  • An Inspector who inspected a particular landlord's buildings receives from the landlord the free use of an unoccupied apartment.

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What is Official Misconduct? (NYS Penal Law)

A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when he/she intends to obtain a benefit or to injure or deprive another person of a benefit and knowingly commits an unauthorized act relating to his official functions, or knowingly refrains from performing a duty that is clearly mandated by law or by his job.

Some examples of official misconduct include:

  • An inspector falsely reports that a restaurant is in violation of the Health Code because of an argument with the restaurant owner.
  • An inspector fails to report a violation in the hope that the restaurant owner will give him money or hire him to work there.

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What is a Conflict of Interest? (NYC Charter, Chapter 68)

Eight Things That Every New York City Employee Should Know About The Conflicts Of Interest (COIB) La:

  1. City Resources: You can NOT use City resources, including time, staff, equipment, or letterhead, for any non-City purpose.
  2. Gifts, Tips, and Gratuities: You can NOT accept a valuable gift from any City vendor, or accept anything of value from any non-City source for performing your City job.
  3. Moonlighting: You need agency and Board approval to have a second job with a firm doing business with the City.
  4. Coercion Protection: You can NOT enter into any sort of private financial relationship with a superior or subordinate.
  5. Political Activities: You can NOT ask a subordinate to work on a political campaign or make a political contribution.
  6. Job Hunting: You can NOT discuss possible future employment with a firm you are currently dealing with in your City job.
  7. Volunteer Work: You can NOT take part in a not-for-profit organization's business dealings with any City agency.
  8. Post - Employment: After you leave City government, you can NOT appear before your former City agency on behalf of a private firm for one year after you leave the agency. If you were personally and substantially involved in a particular matter on behalf of the City, you can never work on that matter in the private sector.

PENALTIES: include fines of up to $10,000 per violation, and suspension or removal from office. In addition, the District Attorney can bring criminal charges for certain conflicts of interest violations.

Some examples of conflicts of interest include:

  • An inspector takes a part-time job outside of his City working hours to work in a supermarket he regularly inspects for the City;
  • A City employee uses the contacts he has in his agency to quickly obtain a permit for his brother, without going through the proper screening procedures;
  • An inspector has a 10% interest in a waste disposal firm whose facilities he inspects for the City;
  • In addition, the City Charter and most City agencies have separate requirements for obtaining approval for outside employment even when the outside job may not be a conflict of interest. You should contact the General Counsel of your agency regarding these requirements.

If you have any questions about a conflicts of interest matter, contact the Conflicts of Interest Board for information and advice at (212) 442 - 1400.

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Corruption Reporting Procedures

If you have any grounds to suspect that anyone is involved in any corrupt, criminal or otherwise inappropriate behavior, you must do the following:

  1. Immediately notify the Inspector General designated for your agency; and
  2. Keep the incident confidential - do not discuss it with anyone other than Inspector General's representatives.

The Inspector General will conduct an independent investigation based on your report and will ensure that criminal and/or administrative action is taken against the offenders, where appropriate.

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The City's Anti-Corruption Efforts

Corruption scandals have resulted in greater efforts by the City to detect, prevent and punish such activity. This can most clearly be seen by the following:

  1. The staff, record-keeping facilities and surveillance equipment of the Department of Investigation and its Inspector General offices have been greatly expanded. City employees face the certainty of coming into periodic contact with these people, via undercover operations or double-checks and audits on individual's work.
  2. The Field Associate Program will provide volunteers who will be trained to identify and systematically report to the Inspectors General any corrupt or criminal activity they may come across. The information they provide will be used as a basis for the Inspector General to conduct an independent investigation. If you have more questions about this program, or are interested in participating, contact your agency's IG whose telephone number is listed on this handout.
  3. The most severe penalties possible, including criminal prosecution, will be pursued against anyone involved in corruption.

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The risks everyone faces in not reporting and/or in participating in corruption far outweigh any monetary financial gains obtained. These risks include:

  • Arrest and criminal prosecution

  • Time in jail

  • Substantial fines

  • Loss of your job

  • Loss of your pension

  • Loss of status in your profession and community

  • And, personal anguish to you, your family and friends.

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During office hours someone is available to receive complaints and allegations.

     Reports of corruption can be made by:

  • Telephone at (212) 825-5959 or 212-3-NYC-DOI
  • Fax (212) 825-2504
  • Writing a letter or visiting the NYC Department of Investigation
    Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 17th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10038
  • Filing a complaint online by clicking here

Some things to remember when filing your report:

  • Although anonymous complaints are accepted, it is helpful if a person does provide a name and call back number in case follow-up questions are necessary.
  • DOI does everything possible to protect the complainant's request for confidentiality.
  • We encourage employees to report even the suspicion of wrongdoing. It is the Inspector General's job to evaluate the information - you need not become an investigator. The sooner DOI is told of an allegation, the better. Delays in reporting can hinder an investigation.
  • You should not discuss DOI matters with anyone - especially if you have requested confidential status from us.
  • Reporting an allegation to an agency's Disciplinary Unit or Advocates Office, which also handle allegations of corruption and misconduct, is not the same as reporting an allegation to DOI. DOI is a separate and independent agency from the agency for which you may work. DOI personnel usually investigate complaints alleging criminal conduct completely independent from the respective agency involved and DOI does not report to the commissioners of the agencies where you are employed.

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You Should Know