Rhode Island's quasi-public agencies, such as the RI Airport Corporation, RI Resource Recovery Corporation, RIPTA, the RI Turnpike and Bridge Authority and more than a dozen more, perform essential government functions and provide essential services. Equally important as the work they do is their accountability to the public.
These agencies are empowered to collect fees and generate revenue and to manage significant public resources, yet most of them are exempt from many kinds of public oversight, such as executive and legislative budgetary review required of other state departments. Consequently, these agencies need to be more transparent, not less, because while they operate independently, they would not exist but for their relationship with state government. Like all other state departments, they need to demonstrate a commitment to protecting the interests of Rhode Island taxpayers by achieving the highest standards of open, effective and ethical operations.
Approved by the General Assembly this year and signed into law by the governor was legislation I sponsored, 2014-S 2585Aaa (and its companion House bill, 2014-H 7138A), ìThe Quasi-Public Corporations Accountability and Transparency Act.î This legislation requires the agencies to carry out their government missions effectively, and exemplify a commitment to transparent, accountable and effective government. The new law ñ which applies to more than a dozen-and-a-half agencies and several agency subsidiaries ñ codifies the role and responsibilities of the agency board members, establishes specific transparency and accountability requirements and calls for a performance audit every five years, beginning in 2015. Continue>>>