Joseph E. Connarton, Executive Director
January 19, 2011
Mr. James P. Costello, Chairman
Massachusetts Port Authority Employees' Retirement System
One Harborside Drive
East Boston, MA 02128-2909
REFERENCE: Report of the Examination of the Massachusetts Port Authority Employees' Retirement System for the three-year period from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2008
Dear Mr. Costello:
The Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission has completed a follow-up review of the findings and recommendations contained in its audit report of the Massachusetts Port Authority Employees' Retirement System for the most recent period referenced above. We conduct these visits as a regular part of the oversight process. They are designed to ensure the timely implementation of corrective action for the recommendations cited in that report. The examination addressed two specific findings and recommendations included in the audit report for the period referenced above. The results are as follows:
1. The Audit Report cited a finding that the attendance rate for one Board member was below the seventy-five percent minimum considered reasonable for each of the years evaluated. Also that the member was recorded as voting while participating by conference call.
The auditor reviewed monthly meeting minutes since the last audit field work was completed. This member cited missed 43% of the 14 meeting minutes examined, from November 2009 through December 2010. The member was recorded as voting on matters that came before the Board while participating by conference call. The Attorney General has statutorily been given the enforcement of the open meeting law. “The attorney general may by regulation or letter ruling, authorize remote participation by members of a public body not present at the meeting location...” However, in the absence of any specific regulations or a letter ruling; the Attorney General has stated remote participation is not permitted. In accordance with this position, PERAC has determined that members must be present; to qualify for a quorum; and may participate remotely but not vote. As such, a member is not deemed present in determining the attendance rate considered reasonable for the period reviewed. The AG has requested information on the rules and regulations on this issue; has formed an advisory committee on this topic; and is considering changes to the interpretation. This finding is not resolved.
2. The Audit Report cited a finding that when members receive separate checks for vacation buyback, the Board is receiving less than the required 2% additional retirement deduction for that pay period.
The employer has made adjustments to the payroll system resulting in the Board receiving the correct 2% deductions when multiple checks are issued. This finding is resolved.
The Commission wishes to acknowledge the effort demonstrated by the staff of the Massachusetts Port Authority Employees' Retirement System to correct one of the deficiencies cited in the most recent examination of the system. PERAC auditors may conduct an additional follow-up visit to ensure appropriate progress is being made in that area that has not been corrected adequately at this time.
We anticipate your continued cooperation in resolving this important matter.
Joseph E. Connarton