Understanding Which Positions Should Be Designated as “Major Policymaking Positions”

The Financial Disclosure Law, G.L. c. 268B, requires that a person who holds a “major policymaking position” in a “governmental body” is required to file annual SFIs, unless that person “receives no compensation other than reimbursements for expenses,” or serves on “a governmental body that has no authority to expend public funds other than to approve reimbursements for expenses.”  What do these terms mean?

Governmental Body:

Any state or county agency, authority, board, bureau, commission, council, department, division, or other entity, including the general court and the courts of the Commonwealth, whether or not located within, or subject to the control of, a larger, Governmental Body. 

Major Policymaking Position: 

  1. The Executive or Administrative Head or Heads of a Governmental Body.
    • The chief executive or administrative officer or officers of a Governmental Body.
    • All members of any board, commission, authority or council which is a Governmental Body and the Executive Director thereof.
  1. All Members of the Judiciary.
    • Every judge, justice, chief justice, chief judge, administrative justice, circuit justice, associate justice, associate judge, special justice, and master in chancery of every court of the Commonwealth.
  1. Any person whose salary equals or exceeds $34,972.08 and who reports directly to the agency’s head, except a person whose duties consist primarily of administrative tasks such as scheduling, record keeping, document handling, word processing and typing, and similar tasks.
  1. The Head of each division, bureau or other Major Administrative Unit within each Governmental Body.
    • Major Administrative Unit is any department, division, bureau, or other unit, which (a) has as its Head, a person whose salary equals or exceeds $34,972.08 and (b) has primary responsibility for (1) matters arising within a particular geographic region; or (2) contracting or procurement; or (3) administering, awarding or monitoring grants, benefits or subsidies; or (4) inspecting, licensing, regulating, or auditing any person or entity; or (5) interpreting or enforcing laws, rules or regulations; or (6) matters involving substantial responsibility requiring the exercise of independent judgment.
  1. Persons exercising similar authority.
    • No person shall be deemed to be exercising authority similar to that of another person merely by virtue of acting in the place of that other person during that other person’s normal vacation or sick leave periods.

Person Who Receives No Compensation: 

Any person who does not receive money or anything of value, except reasonable reimbursements for expenses actually incurred, in exchange for services rendered in a governmental position.  Any person who serves in a position for which compensation is authorized by statute, rule, or regulation, shall be considered “a person who receives no compensation” only if, by official act (including lack of appropriation), the compensation is not made available to that person.  Any person who fails for any reason to accept compensation which has been set aside for, or which has otherwise been made available to, him or her for their position, shall not be considered “a person who receives no compensation” within the meaning of 930 CMR 2.02.

Board, Commission or Council Which has No Authority to Expend Public Funds:

Any board, commission or council which: (a) does not receive a periodic appropriation from the Commonwealth, and (b) has no express statutory authority to expend public funds, to hire employees, or to enter into contracts involving the expenditure of public funds; and (c) has no statutory duties which necessarily entail the expenditure of public funds unless provision is made by statute for payment thereof from a source other than the board, commission, or council itself. 

Holding a Major Policymaking Position in a Governmental Body for 30 Days or More:

A person who is occupying that position for that period of time, without regard to days of actual service. 

For definitions, see G.L. c. 268B, § 1 and 930 CMR 2.02