(1) Within thirty working days after receiving a written allegation of wrongdoing from an employee, the Public Counsel or official may conduct a preliminary investigation and determine whether reasonable grounds exist to support the employee's allegation. The Public Counsel or official may consider the following factors in considering whether to proceed with a preliminary investigation:
(a) The employee has available to him or her another remedy which the employee could reasonably be expected to use;
(b) The complaint pertains to a matter outside the Public Counsel's or official's power;
(c) The complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious, or not made in good faith or has been delayed too long to justify present examination of its merit;
(d) Other complaints are more worthy of attention; or
(e) The Public Counsel's or official's resources are insufficient for adequate investigation.
(2) The identity of the employee presenting the allegation shall not be disclosed by the Public Counsel, his or her investigators, employees, or agents, or the official without the employee's prior written consent.
(3) When the Public Counsel or official finds reason to believe that reasonable grounds exist to support the employee's allegation of wrongdoing, the Public Counsel may conduct a formal investigation. The Public Counsel shall inform the employee of his or her intent to conduct a formal investigation. Upon the request of the Public Counsel, the director or chief operating officer of the agency which is the subject of the allegation shall cooperate in the investigation of the allegation and any related matters. Upon the conclusion of his or her formal investigation, the Public Counsel shall prepare a report of his or her findings.
(4) Any report prepared pursuant to subsection (3) of this section shall be transmitted to the director or chief operating officer of the agency which is the subject of the allegation, or if the allegation and report are directed against a director or chief operating officer, the report shall be transmitted to the Governor, to his or her authorized representative, or to the appropriate board or commission that has governing authority over the director or chief operating officer. The report may include, but need not be limited to, any or all of the following:
(a) A summary of the information received before the formal investigation was initiated;
(b) A description of the conduct of the formal investigation;
(c) A summary of any evidence obtained from the formal investigation;
(d) A listing of any violation or apparent violation of any law, rule, regulation, or agency policy or practice; or
(e) A description of any action taken or recommended as a result of the investigation including, but not limited to:
(i) Changes in agency rules, regulations, practices, or policies;
(ii) Disciplining the employees involved; or
(iii) Referring evidence of a criminal violation to the Attorney General.
(5) A copy of every report prepared pursuant to subsection (3) of this section shall be retained in the files of the Public Counsel. If the contents of the report indicate a wrongdoing exists or has occurred, the report shall become a matter of public record at the time it is transmitted pursuant to subsection (4) of this section unless the Public Counsel determines its release would impede an ongoing investigation.
(6) When the Public Counsel terminates a preliminary investigation or when the Public Counsel terminates a formal investigation of an allegation of wrongdoing, the Public Counsel shall, in writing, promptly notify the employee who made the allegation.