AUSTIN, Texas – With allegations of mismanagement and impropriety hanging around their necks, the State Board of Education took the right step last week when it reconvened an advisory committee of independent financial experts for the $18 billion Permanent School Fund.
The advisory committee had been active for ten years, but was suspended by former Commissioner of Education Mike Moses.
In April and September, the Texas Public Policy Foundation issued a two-part review of the Permanent School Fund performed by Deborah Powers, a CPA and former supervising auditor at the State Auditor’s Office. She also served in the State Comptroller’s office.
In her review, Powers gave several recommendations for improving the management and accountability of the Fund. These included an investment advisory committee, the scheduling of regular, in-depth information meetings with the asset allocation counselor, and periodic evaluations of rules, practices, policies, and compliance.
Further, Powers called on the Board to establish investment policies that focus on long-range investment strategies, and to broker a formal understanding with the legislature about the proper use of the Fund.
State Board of Education member Geraldine Miller (R-District 12) says the committee gives the board greater accountability and expertise. (Mrs. Miller’s husband, Henry S. Miller Company CEO Vance Miller, was recently elected to serve on the Texas Public Policy Foundation Board of Directors.)
“As a 16-year member of the SBOE, I am delighted to finally have the PSF Advisory Committee reinstated. For the 10 years they were active, there was increased accountability for the fund’s performance,” said Mrs. Miller. “Since 1996, the Advisory Committee was unable to meet, due to the current and former Commissioner of Education not allocating the necessary funds. I thank the Governor for supporting the reinstatement of Advisory Committee.”
TPPF spokesman Michael Quinn Sullivan echoed Miller’s comments and praise for the SBOE and Governor Perry. “It is clear that the SBOE needs the technical expertise and accountability that the advisory committee can bring to investment policy decisions.”