CEO 76-57 -- March 16, 1976
HRS DISTRICT ADVISORY COUNCIL
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
A district advisory council to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, established pursuant to Fla. Stat. s. 20.19(1975), is deemed to be an advisory body within the definition of that term contained in s. 112.312(1)(1975) of the Code of Ethics. Such council meets the financial requirements of an advisory body, and its assigned duties are solely advisory in nature. Accordingly, members of the council are not deemed to be "local officers" and therefore are not subject to disclosure.
As a member of a district advisory council of the State Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, would I qualify as a "local officer" within the meaning of that term as found in the Code of Ethics and therefore be subject to financial disclosure requirements?
Your question is answered in the negative.
Your letter of inquiry informs us that you have been asked to serve as a member of the District 5 Advisory Council of the State of Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS). Your question, as stated above, expresses uncertainty as to your duty to file a Form 1, Statement of Financial Disclosure.
District advisory councils of HRS are established pursuant to Fla. Stat. s. 20.19(5)(1975). The duties of such councils include:
1. Advising the district administrator with respect to the administration of the department's service programs within the district and the improvement of coordination and integration of the department's programs and services with those provided within the district by other public and private agencies;
2. Advising the assistant secretary for program planning and development and the staff directors of the program offices with respect to client needs within the district;
3. Assisting the department in the evaluation of its operation;
4. Interpreting to the community, through the personal contacts and involvements of its members, the various services provided by the department;
5. Providing a forum for receiving citizen complaints on general problems relating to the department; and
6. Advising on the coordination of service delivery within the district. [Fla. Stat. s. 20.19(5)(a)(1975).]
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that "local officers" file statements of financial disclosure annually. Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(2)(b)(1975). The term "local officer" is defined to include
[a]ny appointed member of a board, commission, authority, community college district board of trustees, or council of any political subdivision of the state, excluding any member of an advisory body . . . . [Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(1)(a)2.(1975).]
An advisory body is defined by the Code of Ethics to mean:
. . . any board, commission, committee, council, or authority, however selected, whose total budget, appropriations, or authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relating to its internal operations. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.312(1)(1975).]
We have been assured by HRS that district advisory councils operate on minimal budgets and, without doubt, meet the appropriations criterion of an advisory body contained in the above- cited definition. Clearly, too, duties of the councils listed as numbers 1., 2., and 6. above are strictly advisory. Those duties numbered 3., 4., and 5. are exercised in pursuit of the council's advisory function and do not involve the final determination of any personal and property rights.
Accordingly, we find that a district advisory council of HRS constitutes an advisory body for purposes of the Code of Ethics. As a member of such council, you therefore are not deemed to be a local officer subject to the requirement to file Form 1, the Statement of Financial Disclosure.