Board Policy on Conflict of Interest
Providing responsible stewardship for an oversight of public funding for Federally-funded workforce programs must be accomplished in a way that demonstrates strong integrity, accountability, and transparency in order to preserve the public trust. The responsibility for this stewardship and oversight is shared in the devolved public workforce system by Federal, state and local entities. Workforce programs are largely governed under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) by state and local workforce investment boards (WIBs) which are composed of individuals from the business community, education community, government agencies, organized labor, legislators, community service organizations, and others. The WIBs are responsible for multiple functions, including procurement decisions.
Local WIBs select One-Stop Career Center operators and youth service providers, and develop a budget for carrying out the duties of the local WIB. These decisions often have significant implications for service providers and participants they serve, and thus must be made in a transparent and ethical manner. Members of state and local WIBs should be aware of the Federal, state and local laws and regulations which guide their conduct while serving on the WIB. Conflict of interest for local councils is defined in federal law. The WIA legislation is outlined below:
WIA §117 (g), A member of a local board may not (1) vote on a matter under consideration by the local board regarding (a) the provision of services by such member (or by an entity that such member represents); or (b) that would provide direct financial benefit to such member or the immediate family of such member; or (2) engage in any other activity determined by the Governor to constitute a conflict of interest as specified in the State plan.
Conflict of Interest Regulation for Entities Receiving WIA Title I Funds (20 CFR 667.200(a) (4))
The WIA regulations indicates that in addition to the uniform administrative requirements described below, a local WIB member or a Youth Council member must neither cast a vote, nor participate in decision-making, on the provision of services by that member or any organization which that member directly represents. The WIB member also must not cast a vote, nor participate in decision-making, on any matter which would provide any direct financial benefit to that member or a member of his or her immediate family. WIA regulations note that, by itself, neither membership on a WIB or Youth Council alone, nor the receipt of WIA funds to provide training and related services, violates these conflict of interest provisions.
Uniform Administrative Requirements for Procurement (29 CFR 97.36 and 29 CFR 95.42)
The Uniform Administrative Requirements are government-wide standards around procurement that all Federal grantees must follow, including standards for conflict of interest. The Department of Labor codified these requirements at 29 CFR Part 97 for governmental grantees and at 29 CFR part 95 for non-governmental grantees. These requirements describe specific instances which would constitute a conflict of interest, the types of characteristics that should be considered when making awards to contractors, requirements for procurement protest procedures, and other requirements.
“Sunshine Provision” Regulations Local WIBs (20 CFR 661.307)
Specifically, a local WIB must conduct its business in an open manner and make activities of the board available to the public, including the development of specific policies and the minutes of formal board meetings upon request.
The Hatch Act and its Regulations (5 CFR 151)
The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of individuals principally employed by state or local executive agencies and who work in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by Federal loans or grants. Covered state and local employees may not, among other things, use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination; or directly or indirectly coerce, attempt to coerce, command, or advise a state or local officer or employee to pay, lend, or contribute anything of value to a party, committee, organization, agency, or person for political purposes.
State and local WIBs are also governed by relevant state and local rules. Virtually all states have in place laws and regulations defining conflict of interest, establishing requirements for procurement decisions, and establishing ethic rules.