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Opinion

Opinion EC-COI-89-20

Date: 06/19/1989
Organization: State Ethics Commission

Regional Employment Board members are subject to the conflict of interest law, but the members are not required to file Statements of Financial Interests.

Facts

The MASSJOBS Council (Council) was recently established by the
Legislature to create policies for and to coordinate all
employment, training and employment-related education programs
within the Commonwealth, including, but not limited to, training
sponsored under the federal Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA),
29 U.S.C. s.1512. St. 1988, & 164, s.77. The Council is
responsible for the establishment of policies and goals, the
coordination of planning and funding, as well as recommending
changes and reviewing programs within the system.

Additionally, the Legislature established a system of regional
employment boards (REBs). Id., s.105. The REBs, subject to the
Council's policies, are intended to expand the scope of the private
industry councils (PICs) under the JTPA. PICs are partnerships
composed of private and public members who are responsible for
providing guidance and oversight for job training plans within a
service delivery area. 29 USC s.1513. Composition of the REBs will
follow that of the PICs under 29 USC s.1512(d)(1), (2) and (f).
Similar to the PICs, REB members will be selected by the chief
elected official of the local government;

The REBs will provide policy guidance and oversight for all
training and placement programs and all employment-related
educational programs within their jurisdiction. Other duties for
the REBs include:

(a) establishment of standards and objectives for consideration,
approval or recommendation of training, placement and employment-
related educational programs;

(b) review and approval of all job training and placement
programs and service plans;

(c) review and approval of state, federal and other grants
falling within the purview of federally authorized Private Industry
Councils;

(d) review, prior to implementation, of all federally, state or
locally funded employment-related educational programs; and

(e) promotion of working partnerships with private employers and
client groups in the development, design and funding of training,
employment and employment-related educational programs.

In essence, REBs will eventually assume the PlC's JTPA
responsibilities and structure, and will have additional duties
under state law as defined by the Council.

Question

1. Are REB members subject to G.L. c. 268A?

2. Must REB members file statements of financial interest under G.L. c. 268B?

Answers

1. Yes.

2. No.

Page 258

Discussion

1. Status of REBs

The provisions of G.L. c. 268A generally apply to individuals who provide services to state, county or municipal agencies. See, s.1(q), (c) and (f). Where a regional entity possesses the attributes of more than one level of government, the Commission examines the relationship between the entity and various governmental levels to determine which status is appropriate for the purposes of G.L. c. 268A. See, EC-COI-87-2; 83-157; 82-25.

The jurisdictional issues presented by REBs are nearly identical to those previously considered by the Commission with respect to PICs in EC-COI-83-74. In that opinion, we concluded that PICs are municipal agencies within the meaning of s.1(f) and therefore, PlC employees are considered "municipal employees" under s.1(g) of G.L. c. 268A. The conclusion that PICs are municipal agencies was based on: (1) the role that local elected officials selected PlC members; (2) the joint role that PICs share with those local officials under the JTPA in developing job training plans the selection of grant recipients; and (3) the PICs expenditure of public funds. Id at p. 5.

Then similarities between the REBs and the PICs are evidenced by the following, (1) REB members will be selected from the public and private sector by a local elected official under the same federal guidelines as the PlCs; (2) the REBs will cover the same service delivery areas as the PICs; (3) the REBs will, in addition to other duties, eventually assume the PlCs' responsibilities under the JTPA; and (4) REBs will expend public funds. Despite the expanded scope of the REBs, the similarities between the PICs and REBs are numerous. The constituency served by the REBs, although somewhat expanded by the Council, will remain local in nature. Therefore, we conclude that REBs are municipal agencies within the meaning of s.1(f) and thus, REB members are "municipal employees."[1]

2. Status of REB Members under G.L. c. 268B

Statements of Financial Interests (SFIs) must be filed annually with the Commission by "public employees" as defined under G.L. c. 268B, s.1(o). The filing requirement is limited, however, to those persons who hold policy-making positions in a governmental body. G.L. c. 268B, s.1(o). In light of our earlier conclusion that REBs are municipal agencies, we similarly conclude that REBs are exempt from the definition of governmental body, which is limited to state or county agencies. G.L. c. 268B, s.1(h). Moreover, individuals who receive no compensation, other than reimbursements for expenses, are excluded from the definition of a public employee. See also, 930 CMR 2.02 (15). Thus, if REB members are unpaid (except for reimbursement for expenses) they are not required to file SFIs. See, EC-COI-83-30 (the Commission determined that PlC and state Job Coordinating Council members, if unpaid, are not required to file SFls).

 

* Pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.3(g), the requesting person has consented to the publication of this opinion with identifying information.

[1] We note that in EC-COI-83-74, the Commission did not conclude that PlC employees are automatically special municipal employees within the meaning of s.1(n). The special municipal employee status of a particular PlC must be specifically designated by the local elected officials responsible for the appointment of that entity.

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