|Posted:||April 9, 2019 02:37 PM|
|From:||Representative Scott Conklin|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||PIAA + Taxpayer Dollars = Transparency + Accountability|
|Accountability. Transparency. These two words often precede any mention of the actions of public entities or the expenditure of public monies. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) - which is funded mostly by tax dollars that schools pay the PIAA to participate in sports - has refused to address any questions regarding both the conduct of District IV committee business and the expenditure of taxpayer dollars. Additionally, PIAA Board and Committee members have been accused of conducting PIAA business during work hours as public school employees, which raises serious concerns. These deceitful, shameful and loathsome practices must be stopped.
This is not the first time the PIAA have been scrutinized for its reckless spending and questionable business practices. In 1998, the Senate began an investigation of the PIAA after questions arose about bid awards, lavish spending and board votes. After two years of hearings and much debate, the General Assembly passed and Governor Ridge signed Act 91 of 2000. Despite the oversight mechanisms that were put into law by the General Assembly almost 20 years ago due to this type of behavior, the Daily Item reported in February of this year that the PIAA District IV Committee had been conducting its meetings in establishments that serve alcohol. The fact that these meetings were conducted in eating and drinking establishments rather than large public meeting spaces, raises concerns about both the expenditure of public monies and transparency. At a public meeting of the PIAA Executive Board on March 20, 2019, board members refused to answer questions about District IV committee meetings and record-keeping. To make matters worse, the Daily Item also reported that Right-to-Know requests for financial records made by members of the media were largely ignored.
As if the lack of transparency and accountability from the PIAA were not enough, the Daily Item reported on March 7, 2019, that members of the PIAA’s District IV Committee, including the Committee President/ President of the Executive Board, were conducting PIAA business during their day-time jobs as employees of Shamokin Area School District (SASD) and that SASD began an investigation into the matter on March 6, 2019. This blatant betrayal of the public trust is a clear sign the oversight requirements in current law are not enough.
Accordingly, I am introducing a bill to ensure that the PIAA is subject to the requirements of the Sunshine Act, the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, the Right-to-Know Law and the Pennsylvania Web Accountability and Transparency (PennWATCH) Act. In addition, my bill increases the minimum number of meetings for the Athletic Oversight Committee from one to three to increase the frequency of compliance reviews. If the committee determines the PIAA has violated one of the transparency statutes or the recommendations and standards in current law, the committee is required to direct the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to conduct a management and financial review. Depending on the outcome of the review, further action may be taken by the Athletic Oversight Committee.
Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, we can all agree that serving the public trust is one of the most important aspects of our jobs. When an entity such as the PIAA is funded by the hard-earned dollars of the taxpayers of this Commonwealth, it is our duty to ensure that every penny is traceable and responsibly spent. Let’s work in a bipartisan manner to pass reforms that hold the PIAA accountable and gives the taxpayers of this Commonwealth a clear and unimpeded view into the finances and operations of an entity they’re funding.