Sec. GGGG-1. 3 MRSA §991, as amended by PL 2003, c. 451, Pt. KKK, §1, is further amended to read:
§991. Evaluation and Government Accountability
The Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability is created for the purpose of providing program evaluation of agencies and programs of State Government and, when determined necessary by the committee, local and county governments, quasi-municipal governments, special districts, utility districts, regional development agencies or any municipal or nonprofit corporation. The office also is established to ensure that public funds provided to local and county governments, quasi-municipal governments, special districts, utility districts, regional development agencies or any municipal or nonprofit corporation are expended for the purposes for which they were allocated, appropriated or contracted. When authorized by the committee, the office also may examine or direct an examination of any state contractor financed in whole or part by public funds and any expenditure by any public official or public employee during the course of public duty, including, but not limited to, any expenditure of private money for the purposes of the agency or other entity.
Sec. GGGG-2. 3 MRSA §992, sub-§4, as enacted by PL 2001, c. 702, §2, is amended to read:
4. Other entity. "Other entity" means any public or private entity in this State that may be subject to program evaluation under this chapter as the result of its receipt or expenditure of public funds. "Other entity" may include local and county governments, quasi-municipal governments, special districts, utility districts, regional development agencies or any municipal or nonprofit corporation.
Sec. GGGG-3. 3 MRSA §992, sub-§5, as amended by PL 2003, c. 463, §1, is further amended to read:
5. Program evaluation. "Program evaluation" means an examination of any government program that includes performance audits, management analysis, inspections, operations
or, research or examinations of efficiency, effectiveness , or economy and, when determined necessary by the committee, financial audits and post-audits. All financial audits and post-audits must be performed by the Department of Audit or, if the Department of Audit is unable to perform the audit within the time frame established by the committee to complete the report, a qualified auditor.
Sec. GGGG-4. 3 MRSA §994, sub-§3-A is enacted to read:
3-A. Auditing services. When the committee determines that an examination as part of a program evaluation requires the services of a qualified auditor, to request the Department of Audit to conduct all or part of an examination or, if the Department of Audit is unable to perform the examination within the time frame established by the committee, to direct the office to obtain the services of a qualified auditor;
Sec. GGGG-5. 3 MRSA §994, sub-§9, as enacted by PL 2001, c. 702, §2, is amended to read:
9. Meetings. To conduct meetings at such times as the cochairs determine necessary;
Sec. GGGG-6. 3 MRSA §994, sub-§10, as amended by PL 2003, c. 463, §3, is further amended to read:
10. Adopt rules. To adopt rules, as long as the rules are not in conflict with the Joint Rules of the Legislature. By January 1, 2005, the committee must develop a mission statement to be included in the rules
Sec. GGGG-7. 3 MRSA §994, sub-§11 is enacted to read:
11. Information available to committee. To receive certain information. Information that is made available to the committee is governed by chapter 21, which governs legislative investigating committees, and by Title 1, chapter 13, which governs public records and proceedings.
Sec. GGGG-8. 3 MRSA §995, sub-§§1 and 3, as enacted by PL 2001, c. 702, §2, are amended to read:
1. Appointment. Not earlier than April 1, 2003, the Legislative Council shall appoint by an affirmative vote of 8 members of the Legislative Council a nonpartisan director of the office for the purposes of conducting program evaluations pursuant to this chapter. The director must be appointed to an initial 5-year term, which is subject to renewal by the Legislative Council every 5 years thereafter. During the term of the contract, the director may be terminated only for cause by an affirmative vote of 8 members of the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council shall establish the compensation of the director. The director's duties must be performed independently and in a nonpartisan manner but under the general policy direction of the committee.
3. Employees. Employees must be nonpartisan. Employees of the office are employed by and are responsible to the director, who shall hire and fix the compensation of each employee, subject to the approval of the committee and within resources available in the biennial budget. Other than the director appointed pursuant to subsection 1, an employee of the office may not be employed prior to July 1, 2003.
Sec. GGGG-9. 3 MRSA §997, sub-§4, as amended by PL 2003, c. 451, Pt. KKK, §4, is further amended to read:
4. Information available to office.
Information that is made available to the office is governed by chapter 21, which governs legislative investigating committees, and Upon request of the office and consistent with the conditions and procedures set forth in this section, state agencies or other entities subject to program evaluation must provide the office access to information that is privileged or confidential as defined by Title 1, chapter 13, which governs public records and proceedings.
A. Before beginning a program evaluation under this chapter that may require access to records containing confidential or privileged information, the office shall furnish a written statement of its determination that it is necessary for the office to access such records and consult with representatives of the state agency or other entity to discuss methods of identifying and protecting privileged or confidential information in those records. During that consultation, the state agency or other entity shall inform the office of all standards and procedures set forth in its policies or agreements to protect information considered to be confidential or privileged. The office shall limit its access to information that is privileged or confidential by appropriate methods, which may include examining records without copying or removing them from the source.
B. Documentary or other information obtained by the office during the course of a program evaluation under this chapter is privileged or confidential to the same extent under law that that information would be privileged or confidential in the possession of the state agency or other entity providing the information. Any privilege or statutory provision, including penalties, concerning the confidentiality or obligation not to disclose information in the possession of a state agency or other entity or its officers or employees applies equally to the office. Privileged or confidential information obtained by the office during the course of a program evaluation may be disclosed only as provided by law and with the agreement of the state agency or other entity subject to the program evaluation that provided the information.
C. If the office accesses information classified as privileged or confidential pursuant to state agency or other entity policy or procedures or by agreement, the office shall comply with the state agency's or other entity's standards or procedures for handling that information. The office may include in its working papers the excerpts from information classified as confidential or privileged as may be necessary to complete the program evaluation under this chapter, as long as the use does not infringe on department policies or procedures applicable to the original provision of information.
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