FACTS Act Could Be Step Toward Transparent UGBC
Clauses That Require Timely Reports And Enforce Accountability Are Necessary To Ensure Act's Success
Published: Monday, September 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 00:09
At the first meeting of the new Student Assembly, the legislative agenda included an important step toward increasing transparency in UGBC: the Fairness in Accounting and Clear Transparency Standards (FACTS) Act, which requires that the executive branch submit a written evaluation for every event sponsored by UGBC that receives any funding from the Student Activities Fee. Included in this report would be a breakdown of the costs incurred for holding the event. Furthermore, the resolution requires that the report be submitted to the Assembly Finance Committee Chair and be made available to any member of the student body, upon request.
Due to the length of debate and disagreements over how the budget information should be explained, the legislation was tabled on Tuesday for further discussion at the next meeting. Some members of the Assembly and the executive branch expressed concern that the information would be misleading and hard to understand outside of context. Disagreement arose over whether each person requesting the information should meet with a member of the Finance Committee or whether there should be an explanatory letter that would accompany the document.
While it may be true that the financial information could be taken out of context, it is still important that it be released to the public. Furthermore, the requirement that every person requesting the information talk with a member of the committee is a cumbersome one, both for those requesting the information and the committee members. A better option would be a letter of explanation, with an option for the recipient to follow up with any questions with a member of the committee.
A further problem with the legislation is a lack of measures to prevent obstructionism. There is no requirement that the Chair of the Finance Committee release the requested documents in a timely manner, nor is there any mechanism for holding the Chair accountable. These requirements are essential in making this legislation successful in achieving the goal of increasing transparency. It is critical that the Student Assembly not water down this proposal, which was an integral part of the campaign of Matt Nacier, UGBC President and A&S ’14, and Matt Alonsozana, UGBC Executive Vice President and A&S ’14.