Amendments proposed on Aug. 16 would require recipients of city-administered grant funds to adopt formal ethics codes; New law would extend city’s audit oversight to grantees and give city legal authority to suspend funding or demand repayment
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone today called on the Board of Aldermen to take up a proposal he submitted on August 16 that would expand the city’s abilities to require grant recipients to adopt conflict-of-interest codes similar to those that govern municipal officials. The proposed changes to the city’s existing ordinance (Chapter 15) would also give the city direct audit oversight over grantees as well as explicit authority to suspend disbursements to, and recover funds from, organizations that violate the provisions of the ordinance.
“Similar to government officials, executives and managers in organizations that accept taxpayer funding have ethical obligations to avoid conflicts of interest that allow family members to gain directly from their spending,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We’re asking organizations that administer taxpayer-funded grants or trust funds to develop and publish their own conflict-of-interest policies – or simply to apply the city’s policies to their employees. We’re also seeking to send a clear message to grant recipients that we will require them to be open and transparent financially, and that we will withdraw support from organizations that cannot meet these standards.”
“Especially as we establish municipal trust funds for special initiatives – SomerPromise is a good example – the public has a right to expect that we will hold program administrators to clear ethical and accounting standards,” said Ward 7 Alderman Bob Trane. “This is a change that I’ve been pushing for a while and I was happy to co-sponsor the mayor’s draft language. I think this reform will be popular with my fellow aldermen, and I’m looking forward to the discussion in Legislative Matters Committee.”
“The federal and state agencies that provide grant funds still have the final call on auditing and regulating their use, but we think these changes will help protect the city’s, and the taxpayers interests whenever grant recipients find ways to profit illicitly from public funding,” Curtatone said. A copy of the policy is publicly available as Agenda Item 193631 on the Board of Aldermen’s online public information portal, http://somervillecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.