No member of MV’s board of directors had signed a Certificate of Receipt of Open Meeting Law Materials acknowledging receipt of the materials, the requirements of the law, and the consequences of violating it. During the audit, we brought the issue to management’s attention, and all board members signed the certification in May 2019.
Without evidence that newly appointed or reappointed board members had received the Open Meeting Law educational materials, there was an elevated risk that board members were unaware of their responsibilities under the law.
Section 20(h) of Chapter 30A of the Massachusetts General Laws states,
Within 2 weeks of qualification for office, all persons serving on a public body shall certify, on a form prescribed by the attorney general, the receipt of a copy of the open meeting law, regulations promulgated under section 25 [of Chapter 30A] and a copy of the educational materials prepared by the attorney general explaining the open meeting law and its application under section 19 [of Chapter 30A]. Unless otherwise directed or approved by the attorney general, the appointing authority, city or town clerk or the executive director or other appropriate administrator of a state or regional body, or their designees, shall obtain certification from each person upon entering service and shall retain it subject to the applicable records retention schedule where the body maintains its official records. The certification shall be evidence that the member of a public body has read and understands the requirements of the open meeting law and the consequences of violating it.
In addition, the Attorney General’s Open Meeting Law Guide and Educational Materials states,
A public body member must sign a new Certificate [of Receipt of Open Meeting Law Materials] upon reelection or reappointment to the public body.
Reasons for Issue
MV management and board members told us they were not aware of the certification requirement. MV did not have a policy informing newly appointed and reappointed members that they are required to sign the certification.
Management should develop a formal policy informing newly appointed and reappointed board members that they are required to sign a Certificate of Receipt of Open Meeting Law Materials within two weeks of qualifying for office.
While we agree with this finding, upon becoming aware of the requirement, MassVentures promptly requested and received, from each current Board member, a Certificate of Receipt of Open Meeting Law Materials acknowledging receipt of the materials, the requirement of the law, and consequences of violating it.
The Recommendation provided by your office for this finding was for MassVentures to “develop a formal policy informing newly appointed and reappointed board members that they are required to sign a Certificate of Receipt of Open Meeting Law Materials within two weeks of qualifying for office.”
In response to this Recommendation: MassVentures will document its procedures for forms and information to be provided to, and receipts required by, newly appointed board members which will include a Certificate of Receipt of Open Meeting Law Materials within two weeks of qualifying for office.
Based on its response, MV is taking measures to address this issue.
|Date published:||March 19, 2020|