APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO UNIVERSITY'S
GRANTS COMPLIANCE ANALYSTS
To: Ms. Melissa Morrison-Cueto, Agency Coordinator, Florida State University (Tallahassee)
Where a state university's "grants compliance analysts" have no authority to apply for or award grants, or decide how grant funds are spent, persons in these positions are not considered to be "grants coordinators" for purposes of Section 112.3145(1)(b)5, Florida Statutes, and are not required to file the annual statement of financial interests.
Are "grants compliance analysts" employed by a state university considered to be "specified state employees" for purposes of filing financial disclosure?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and through email exchanges with our staff, we are advised that you are seeking this advisory opinion on behalf of Florida State University's Director of Sponsored Research, Gregory Thompson, and the Associate Director of Sponsored Research Accounting Services, Roberta McManus, both of whom have supervisory authority over the employees who are the subject of this opinion. You ask whether persons employed by the University as Grants Compliance Analysts are required to file the annual statement of financial interests—the CE Form 1.
Section 112.3145(1)(b)5, Florida Statutes, defines the term "specified state employee" to include:
Business managers, purchasing agents having the power to make any purchase exceeding the threshold amount provided for in s. 287.017 for CATEGORY ONE1 , finance and accounting directors, personnel officers, or grants coordinators for any state agency. [e.s.]
Persons in these positions are considered to be "specified state employees" and are required to file the annual statement of financial interests. State universities are considered to be state agencies for purposes of the Code of Ethics. See CEO 08-14.
There is nothing in the legislative history of this statute that sheds any meaning on what was intended by the phrase "grants coordinators." The term "grants coordinators" was first included in Chapter 75-196, Laws of Florida, which included a category of "specified state employees" who were subject to financial disclosure. The Commission's 1975 legislative package was introduced as House Bill 660 and did not include the phrase "grants coordinators." Later, during the legislative process, a Committee Substitute for House Bill 660 was considered and it included
Business managers, purchasing agents, finance and accounting directors, personnel officers and grants coordinators for any state agency or persons having the power normally conferred upon such persons by whatever title. [e.s.]
This language eventually passed and was codified in Chapter 75-196, Laws of Florida. Other than this, we have found nothing in the legislative history that explains what was meant by, or why, the phrase "grants coordinators" was inserted in the statute.
In reviewing the Florida Department of Management Services' classification of positions2, we note that there are presently no occupations identified as that of a "grants coordinator." Nor are there any in the University's personnel classification system. Whether there was, historically, a position of "grants coordinator" in state government is not known. However, according to the University's job class specifications for a Grants Compliance Analyst, a person in this position has the following responsibilities:
Responsible for development, implementation, and monitoring of contracts/grants. Responsible for all activities associated with obtaining, administering, tracking, and reporting of federal, state, local, and private contracts/grants and other types of awards and agreements. Responsible for reviewing and analyzing contract/grant documents for accuracy and compliance and negotiating with sponsoring agencies. May identify funding opportunities, work with and advise principal investigators, conduct research, and interpret technical information to grantees. May recommend policies, procedures, and guidelines for the approval and monitoring of grants/contracts.
We have been informed that the duties of the University's employees in these positions are primarily ministerial. They have no authority to decide whether to apply for or award grants, or how grant funds are spent. Nor can they approve monetary transactions. In CEO 80-40, we opined that employees of a historic preservation board were neither purchasing agents nor grants coordinators for purposes of financial disclosure. Although none of those employees had the word "grants" in their titles, we did note that the curator had no authority to determine who would receive a grant or the amount of a grant award. His duties merely included assisting interested persons to obtain grants from agencies other than the historic preservation board.
This guidance is helpful in resolving your question. Because the duties of the University's Grants Compliance Analysts are primarily ministerial with no authority to apply for or award grants, or decide how grant funds are spent, it is our view that "Grants Compliance Analysts" are not "grants coordinators" for purposes of Section 112.3145(1)(b)5, Florida Statutes, and are not subject to the annual filing of a financial disclosure statement.
Your question is answered accordingly.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on December 3, 2010 and RENDERED this 8th day of December, 2010.
Section 15 of Chapter 2010-151, Laws of Florida, increased the Category One purchasing threshold to $20,000.