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  • NJ A3297
  • Establishes independent Office of Comptroller of Education and removes authority of State Comptroller with regard to oversight of boards of education.
Introduced
(2/22/2016)
In Committee
(2/22/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill establishes an independent Office of the Comptroller of Education, in but not of the Department of Education, that will report directly to the Governor. Under current law, the State Comptroller is responsible for conducting financial audits and performance reviews, and for monitoring the process of soliciting and awarding significant or complex government contracts, for State government, independent State authorities, local units of government, and boards of education. This bill would remove these oversight responsibilities with respect to boards of education from the State Comptroller and transfer them to the Comptroller of Education. The Department of Education's Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance will be allocated within the Office of the Comptroller of Education, and will coordinate and consolidate its investigative and auditing functions with the Comptroller of Education. The Governor will appoint the Comptroller of Education for a six-year term with the advice and consent of the Senate. The appointed Comptroller of Education must be qualified by education, training, and prior work experience to direct the office and perform the duties and functions of the position. An individual serving as Comptroller of Education will be subject to a consecutive two-term limit, and will not be eligible to serve again in that office until the expiration of six years following a second successive term. The Comptroller of Education and professional staff of the office will be restricted in their political activities. The Comptroller of Education will have the power and duty to conduct routine, periodic, and random audits of boards of education in order to provide increased accountability, integrity, and oversight of school districts. The Comptroller of Education will also analyze and review any certified financial audits of boards of education conducted pursuant to other provisions of law. In addition, the Comptroller of Education will have the power and duty to conduct assessments of the performance and management of programs of boards of education and the extent to which they are achieving their goals and objectives. The Comptroller of Education, rather than the State Comptroller as under current law, will also be responsible for auditing and monitoring the process of soliciting proposals for, and the process of awarding, contracts made by boards of education that involve a significant consideration or expenditure of funds or are comprised of complex or unique components. To that end, boards of education will be required to provide post-award notice to the Comptroller of Education for any contract amount exceeding $2 million within 20 days of the award. Boards of education will be required to provide advance notice to the Comptroller of Education of the commencement of a procurement process involving $10 million or more, in order to enable the Comptroller of Education to complete a review and provide a determination as to whether the procurement process complies with applicable public contracting laws, rules, and regulations. If the Comptroller of Education finds a board of education to have deficient practices or procedures during the performance of his duties under the bill, the Comptroller of Education will have the power to propose and enforce a corrective or remedial action plan to correct those deficiencies. If the Comptroller of Education determines that a board of education has impeded an audit or has failed or refused to cooperate in the development of a corrective or remedial action plan or to comply with a plan, the Comptroller of Education is authorized to: (1) direct the State Treasurer to withhold the expenditure of State funds that may be due to the board of education; and (2) direct the Commissioner of Education to impose a corrective or remedial action plan that may include the prior approval by the comptroller of that board's contracts and expenditures. In addition, the Comptroller of Education will have the power to direct a board of education not to fund with local tax dollars any position that the Comptroller of Education has determined, through the course of audits, investigations, and reviews, to be unnecessary. Under the bill, the Comptroller of Education will provide periodic reports to the Governor, and will issue an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature, concerning any programmatic deficiencies and weaknesses that the Comptroller of Education's audits, investigations, and reviews have found, and detailing the efforts or failures of any board of education to implement a corrective or remedial action plan. The Comptroller of Education is authorized to refer findings that may constitute alleged criminal conduct to the Attorney General or other prosecutorial authority, and to refer matters for investigation to the Attorney General for further civil or administrative action. The bill amends several provisions of current law to remove the responsibilities of the State Comptroller with respect to boards of education. Under the bill, these responsibilities will now be performed by the Comptroller of Education.
Education
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Education Committee  (on 2/22/2016)
 
 
Date Chamber Action Description
2/22/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Education Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified