Government Accountability (H.702) - April 4, 2024

Representative Boyden reported H.702 to the Senate Government Operations Committee on Thursday.

She noted there are two distinct sections of the bill:

  1. The creation of a Joint Oversight and Accountability Committee
  2. The establishment of a working group to review the State’s grant process

As stated in the bill, the purpose is to actuate the principle of government accountability by focusing on how evidence is used to inform policy, how our State laws are carried out, and how legislation can best be formed to achieve its intended outcomes. This bill strives to systematize government accountability, according to Boyden. She went on to note that provisions need to be put in place that will measure whether legislative policy has been met and that there needs to be mechanisms put into place to ensure that the bodies of government tasked with executing legislative intent are properly doing so.

The bill also established the Working Group on State Grant Processes for the purpose of assessing the State’s current grant awarding process. The Working Group shall assess the State’s current grant and contracting funding levels and identify cost of living or other inflationary adjustments; assess the impact of bridge loans and lines of credit and identify alternative mechanisms for meeting funding needs; assess grant and contracting processes and practice across State agencies and departments and identify uniform best practices and determine the specific circumstances under which funding should be reimbursable, etc.

Boyden noted, in response to a question by Senator Clarkson about the existing committee, that the current Accountability Committee has been sunset so that this new committee can be established. Also Senator Vyhovsky stated that there was a working group last summer that was charged to reexamining the principle of government accountability by focusing on how evidence is used to inform policy how information is publicly conveyed, and how legislation can best be formed to achieve its intended outcomes. The Committee published a report which included all its recommendations. 

Vyhovsky noted she was on the Committee and asked Boyden why only some of the recommendations made by the Summer Committee were included in the Joint Oversight and Accountability Committee’s responsibilities. Boyden responded that in the interest of time, the current bill was put forth but "only as a starting point."

The Joint Oversight and Accountability Committee will consist of eight members and shall report into the Joint Fiscal Office.  There will be a support new position created which will be funded as funds become available. Boyden commented that New Mexico has a similar bill and has been very successful in its implementation.  A member of the Committee expressed concern that the language was very broad but was assured that the purpose of the Committee was to make sure the laws the Legislature is passing actually goes into play and makes sure that the laws are doing what was intended.  The Committee is also charged with checking that reports are submitted as requested and READ by the appropriate legislators.

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