Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

Serrano, Velázquez Send Letter to Puerto Rico Fiscal Control Board Chairman Asking For Transparency of Expenses and Disbursements

Aug 22, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Troubled by reports of over $30 million in expenses in only one year of operation, Representatives Serrano and Velázquez sent a letter to the Chairman of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico expressing their concerns over the lack of transparency and independent supervision over the spending decisions made by the Board. In the letter, the members pointed to several reforms the Board should look to implement, including the use of Congress’ quarterly Statement of Disbursements for expenses incurred by Congressional offices. The members also urged the Board to have a Chief Financial Officer to make sure that the services rendered are obtained at the best price possible; to ensure all contracts are competitively bid; and to agree to undergo an annual audit to ensure independent oversight over these processes.

“It has come to our attention that the Oversight Board has spent over $30 million—which comes from Puerto Rican taxpayers—for salaries, equipment, and services during its first year of operations.  At a time when the government of Puerto Rico and its people have had to endure financial sacrifices, it is incumbent upon the Board to do the same and lead by example.  As part of that process, the Board must be transparent and accountable by disclosing all of its disbursements.  For example, in Congress we have a quarterly Statement of Disbursements for each expense incurred by a Congressional office.  This system—which has been in place for decades—maintains transparency and accountability while at the same time encourages good stewardship of public funds,” Serrano and Velázquez wrote.

 

       August 18, 2017

 

Mr. José B. Carrión III
Chairman
Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico
P.O. Box 192018
San Juan, PR 00919-2018

Dear Chairman Carrión:

 

On May 11, 2017, we wrote you a letter underlining our concerns regarding the fiscal and economic policies included in Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Plan.  Our views remain unchanged, but the purpose of this letter is to bring to your attention our deep concerns regarding the Fiscal Oversight Board’s lack of transparency when it comes to its expenses and disbursements.

It has come to our attention that the Oversight Board has spent over $30 million—which comes from Puerto Rican taxpayers—for salaries, equipment, and services during its first year of operations.  At a time when the government of Puerto Rico and its people have had to endure financial sacrifices, it is incumbent upon the Board to do the same and lead by example.  As part of that process, the Board must be transparent and accountable by disclosing all of its disbursements.  For example, in Congress we have a quarterly Statement of Disbursements for each expense incurred by a Congressional office.  This system—which has been in place for decades—maintains transparency and accountability while at the same time encourages good stewardship of public funds.

We believe this is a good practice to follow, and to that end, we believe that it is necessary for the Board to provide Congress and the public a detailed account and specific breakdown of all expenses incurred to date.  This breakdown should detail all salaries, reimbursements, equipment purchases, and contracts incurred by the Board in a detailed, accessible, and comprehensive manner.

Furthermore, the Board must make sure that it is a good steward of public funds and—if it has not done so yet—should implement appropriate procedures and practices that maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the Board. To this end, the Board should have a Chief Financial Officer that makes sure that services rendered are obtained at the best price possible and that waste, fraud, and abuse have no place.  Additionally, the Board must ensure that all contracts are competitively bid, in line with federal contracting standards.  Lastly, the Board should be willing to undergo an annual audit to ensure independent oversight over these processes.

Implementing policies that make the Board more transparent and accountable will help the Board maintain support for its mission in Puerto Rico from both the federal government and the people of Puerto Rico.  Thank you for your attention and we look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

            _______________________                                     ________________________

            José E. Serrano                                                           Nydia Velázquez

            Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

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Congressman José E. Serrano has represented The Bronx in Congress since 1990.  He is a Senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. 

 

 

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