(Sacramento, CA) — Recent media coverage in the Los Angeles Times regarding the mismanagement and conflict-of-interest violations in the Los Angeles Community College District’s $5.7 Billion construction program has highlighted the need for increased oversight of bond fund expenditures and ethics standards.
“The public has a right to know how these bond dollars are being spent. Who’s getting the contracts? Are there cost overruns? What is being bought? This is basic information, and there needs to be accountability and transparency in the process,” said Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “We’re talking about Billions of dollars in taxpayer-authorized bonds, and the problems may spread farther than what’s been exposed in LACCD.”
Senator De León has introduced Senate Bill 911, which will provide greater transparency and accountability in the bond fund expenditure process to increase public confidence in the administration of taxpayer-approved facilities.
Existing law, the Local Agency Special Tax and Bond Accountability Act of 2000 (Government Code §§ 53410-53412), established minimum standards for local initiative bonds and tax measures. Under the bond accountability provisions of this statute, the chief fiscal officer of a bond issuing agency is required to file a report with its governing body on an annual basis. The contents of the report must include the amount of funds collected and expended, and the status of required or authorized projects.
SB 911 seeks to expand upon these current requirements by requiring every bond issuing agency to include a “bond fund transparency component” as part of its annual report that allows public access via the Internet to specified data on the expenditure of bond proceeds. The Bill also mandates that each bond issuing agency implement an ethics program that includes conflict of interest standards, a process for ethics complaints and violations to be reported and enforced, and the posting of the agency’s ethics policies on the agency’s web site.