|No. A public authority may retain an independent audit firm for more than five years, but the firm must change the lead partner on the audit or the partner responsible for reviewing the audit at least once every five years.|
|Does the five year rotation of the lead audit partner apply to the period prior to the effective date of the Act?|
| Yes. An audit partner should not oversee a public authority audit for more than any consecutive five year period. This applies to audit periods initiated prior to the effective date of the statute. For example, if an authority had the same audit partner for three consecutive years prior to the Act, then the authority is required to change lead audit partners no later than upon completion of the next two audit cycles. However, should a public authority have a contract with a specific audit firm or audit partner that currently prohibits such rotation within this five year cycle, the authority may honor the contract for the initial engagement period, but must rotate audit partners at the first available opportunity (no extensions allowed).
|What constitutes “participate in State approved training”?|
|Board members are required to participate in training on their responsibilities within one year of appointment to a public authority board. The Authority Budget Office recognizes a board member as meeting this requirement upon the completion of a full curriculum from a State approved trainer. The Authority Budget Office has issued Policy Guidance 06-01 with additional information on the criteria and the curriculum that must be met to satisfy this requirement. It is the intent of the Authority Budget Office to provide board members with as much flexibility and convenience as possible to meet this requirement.|
|What is meant by “within one year of appointment to a board”?|
|Board members serving on the authority board at the time the Act took effect should participate in training by the end of the authority's fiscal year that had its start date between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006. For example, if your authority is on a calendar fiscal year, your board members should complete training by December 31, 2006 to be in compliance with this requirement. |
Board members appointed on or after the effective date of the Act are required to participate in training within one year of appointment.
|If a board member designates a representative to attend board meetings in his/her place, must the representative participate in State approved training or should the board member participate?|
An ex officio cannot abrogate his or her responsibilities under the law, even if they have effectively delegated their responsibilities as a board member to a designee. The appointment of a designee merely allows that designee to attend and participate in board meetings, and to act in the place of the ex officio, including voting as an independent board member. The ex officio still retains those powers and is subject to those obligations legally bestowed on board members. At the same time, if the designee attends board meetings on behalf of the ex officio, has the authority to act in his or her stead, and casts votes, then that designee must also attend required State approved training, since as a practical matter they function in the capacity of a board member. Only if both the ex officio and the designee have participated in training, should the authority answer "yes" that the board member has complied with the training requirement of Section 2824 on the 'Enter Board Member' screen in PARIS.
|The law states that a majority of a public authority board must be comprised of independent members. What does this mean and how is independence determined?|
|The majority of the board, exclusive of ex officio members, must meet the independence requirements of Section 2825(2) of Public Authorities Law. This means that if a public authority has a nine member board, with four ex officio members, three of the remaining five appointees to the board must be independent. Section 2825(2) defines an independent member as one who: has not been employed by the public authority or an affiliate in an executive capacity over the past two years; has not been employed by an entity that received more than $15,000 from the public authority or received any other form of financial assistance of more than $15,000; is not a relative of an executive of the public authority or affiliate; and has not been a paid lobbyist to influence the actions of the authority or affiliate over the past two years. This provision applies to the composition of the board following appointments made on or after January 15, 2006.|
|Can an elected or appointed official serve on a public authority board, and is this official considered to be an independent member?|
| While it is not a recommended practice, the appointment of a government employee is not prohibited under the statute and such individual's position as a government employee would not inherently affect their independence.
|How should a public authority constitute its Audit and Governance Committee?|
| In accordance with statute, all members must meet the independence requirement. As a best practice, it is recommended that these committees be comprised of three independent members. It is permissible to appoint a private citizen (non-board member) to one of these committees to meet the minimum requirements of this best practice provided that these non-board members are independent and do not constitute the majority of the committee. It is at the discretion of the authority whether to compensate such individuals for serving on the committee.
|The Act requires financial reports to be certified in writing by the CEO and CFO? What does this mean?|
|It is the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer and not board members who are responsible for the preparation of the authority's financial statements. With the submission of these reports, the CEO and the CFO are stipulating that, to their knowledge, the financial statements are correct, accurate and complete. It is also the responsibility of board members to review, question, understand and approve the financial statements and to be assured that the information is not misleading.|
I don’t have a Chief Financial Officer or Chief Executive Officer for my authority. Does this mean I need to create these positions, and hire new individuals for these positions?
While there are several references to 'chief executive officer' and 'chief financial officer' within the Act, the law does not require these positions be created if the functions are currently being performed by staff with other titles. The ABO is interpreting the Act to mean that these references are to management activities normally associated with those positions, rather than to the specific positions. As such, it could be appropriate within the current organizational structure of an authority to have the job responsibilities of an executive director or chief financial officer performed by staff with a title other than that of CEO or CFO, or if those responsibilities were vested in the same individual, provided that appropriate internal controls and other safeguards were in place.
|What provisions must be included in this Code to satisfy compliance with the requirements of Chapter 766?|
| An effective and comprehensive code of ethics, at a minimum, should articulate the legal, fiduciary and ethical responsibilities of board members, management and staff; include policies governing the obligations of management to its employees and the public; state the expectations of management concerning the appropriate professional and personal behavior of all employees; address the responsibilities of employees to ensure the proper and effective operation of the public authority; and include a clear statement on how the code will be enforced. A model ethics policy can be found on the Authority Budget Office website under “Recommended Governance Practices”.
|In addition to any outstanding bonds and notes, does the term “debt” include other financial arrangements?|
|For purposes of the required schedule of debt to be included in the annual report submitted pursuant to Section 2800 of the Public Authorities Law, the term “debt” refers to outstanding bonds and notes. Public authorities must also provide the additional supporting information required under Section 2800, as amended by the Public Authorities Accountability Act.
|What does the term “property” include?|
|Property is comprised of either real property or personal property. A public authority should be guided by the definition of “real property” contained in its enabling legislation. In the absence of a specific definition, the term generally applies to land, structures, franchises, easements, rights of way and licenses which the public authority could legally convey to another party. Personal property generally applies to all other items owned by the public authority, and includes all equipment, vehicles, and materials with a total value in excess of $5,000.|
What types of property transactions are considered ‘dispositions’?
Property dispositions include transactions involving the sale or donation of real or personal property by a public authority, as well as transactions in which the public authority leases real property to an individual, a state or local government, another public authority or a public or private organization.
|If a public authority does not have a web page, is it required to develop and maintain such a site?|
|No, but the reporting of information required to be made public and provided to the Authority Budget Office would be facilitated through an Internet web site. The Authority Budget Office encourages the development of an Internet capability by public authorities. If this is not practicable, a public authority should make arrangements to post its annual, budget and audit reports on the website of the government for whose benefit the authority was established to assure accessibility by the Authority Budget Office and the public.
|Section 2800 of the Act requires an assessment of the effectiveness of internal controls. As part of the annual audit, the independent auditor submits a report on internal controls. Is this sufficient for compliance?|
For purposes of complying with the requirements of Section 2800, an internal control assessment is an annual evaluation performed by management to determine the effectiveness of its internal control system. Although management may rely on the auditor’s review of internal controls to some extent as part of this assessment, care needs to be taken to ensure this is appropriate. As part of the audit report, the independent auditor may indicate that internal controls were considered as a basis for designing the audit procedures, but not for purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the internal controls. When this is the case, management can place little reliance on the auditor’s work as a basis for the assessment of controls, and additional evaluation of the controls must be done by management to adequately assess the internal controls. An effective internal control system gives management a reasonable indication of the reliability of the entity’s operating practices and the accuracy of information used to measure its activities and performance. The ABO has issued recommended practices identifying the major components of an internal control assessment. (See "Internal Control Assessment Guidance" under ABO Recommended Practices.)
|What is PARIS?|
|PARIS stands for Public Authorities Reporting Information System, and is the online electronic data entry and collection system jointly designed, developed, and operated by the Authority Budget Office and the Office of the State Comptroller. Public authorities will use PARIS to comply with the various reporting requirements of Public Authorities Law, General Municipal Law and OSC Regulations.|
|How often will I have to use PARIS?|
|Public authority staff will use PARIS for: (1) submitting their budget reports (due 60 days before the start of the fiscal year for local authorities, and 90 days before the start of the fiscal year for State authorities); (2) submitting their annual reports (due 90 days after the end of the fiscal year); (3) providing copies of their independent audit; and (4) providing other documentation required to be filed. However, access to PARIS will be available to public authority staff continuously throughout the year. It is expected that PARIS will be accessed whenever the public authority would like to update its data, such as for debt issuances or property transactions that occur throughout the year. Data entered in PARIS throughout the year will be retained and available for edits or revisions until verified and submitted by the appropriate public authority official.|
|Is training available for using PARIS?|
|The ABO periodically offers online training webinars. A schedule can be viewed by accessing the Online PARIS Training web page at http://www.abo.ny.gov/paris/parisonlinetraining.html.|
|What do I need to use PARIS?|
|PARIS is a web-based application. Use of PARIS requires a personal computer with a standard web browser, such as Internet Explorer, and an email account. It may be beneficial if the user has access to high-speed Internet connections to facilitate the submission of data.|
|How will I access PARIS?|
|Users will access PARIS with a User ID and Password via OSC's Online Services website at https://portal.osc.state.ny.us.|
|How will I get a User ID and Password to access PARIS?|
|Public authorities have been asked to designate a Primary Authorizer, who will be responsible and accountable for creating and maintaining the accounts of eligible PARIS users for their authority. Users must initially go through their authority’s Primary Authorizer to first gain access to PARIS. Access to PARIS for purposes of entering data will be determined by each authority. Information and instructions on enrolling and logging in can be found in the training presentations on the ABO website (See “Enrollment” video on the PARIS web page.)|
|Where will links to PARIS be located?|
|Links to the PARIS application are prominently displayed on both the Authority Budget Office website and the State Comptroller’s website.|
|Will I have to complete and submit all of the information during a single session?|
|No, public authority staff can access PARIS and enter data over as many sessions as necessary. Users can save data at several points in PARIS and return at a later date without losing data that was entered and saved during a previous session. In some cases, all required fields on a screen will need to be completed before saving the data, but all screens do not need to be completed during a single session. There is also the capability within PARIS to download templates, which public authority staff can complete offline (without being connected to PARIS), and upload the information entered in the templates at a later time. When using this function, the user is specifically required to use the template provided through PARIS. Any modifications to the template will not allow the information to be loaded successfully into the system.|
|Requirements for submitting reports indicate that the data needs to be certified by the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer of the authority. How will this “certification” be handled?|
|Only the CEO or CFO, or their equivalents or designees authorized by the CEO or CFO to act on their behalf may serve as a “certifier”. That person will execute the function within PARIS that indicates they have reviewed the data entered, and that they believe it to be accurate and correct. Completing this function will constitute electronic certification. System checks within PARIS will ensure that this function cannot be completed unless all required data elements have been entered.|
|Can the same person hold multiple roles in PARIS? Can an authority designate more than one person for any particular role?|
|The same person can hold multiple roles in PARIS. For example, the Primary Authorizer can also be a Preparer or Certifier. Additionally, there is no limit on the number of authorizers, preparers or certifiers that an authority can designate in PARIS.|
|What will the contacts on the Authority Home Page be used for? Do I need to list all PARIS users as contacts? Can the same person have multiple contact types?|
|Contacts entered on the Authority Home Page will be those individuals designated by the authority to receive emails, correspondence, or telephone calls from the ABO or OSC. This could include policy guidance from the ABO, questions on data submitted through PARIS, or any other information of importance to public authorities. You do not need to enter all PARIS users here, just those that you would like us to contact for the above reasons. You are required to enter four contact types in PARIS - CEO, CFO, Certifier and Preparer. The same person may be designated for multiple contact types.|
|After entering data into PARIS, can we export a report for posting it on the authority’s website?|
|Yes, PARIS gives you the ability to generate and save reports.|
|What about reporting to other people other than OSC and ABO -- i.e., a County Legislature? Does PARIS meet those requirements?|
|Using PARIS meets the reporting requirements for the ABO and OSC. You will still be obligated to provide any required information to other entities. You may use PARIS for this purpose by generating reports from PARIS to be shared with these entities.|
|Will I still need to submit hard copy documents?|
|No, PARIS will replace the requirement for hard copy documentation being submitted to the ABO and Comptroller’s Office. PARIS also provides the ability to attach electronic versions of documents, when necessary.|
|For all Bulk Load options, can I use a template other than the PARIS template?|
|No. You must use the template specifically provided in PARIS for the designated reporting year each time you use the Bulk Load function. PARIS will not successfully bulk load a template used for a previous fiscal year.|
|Is the Budget & Financial Plan supposed to be on a cash or a modified accrual basis?|
|Can the categories for the Budget & Financial Plan be modified?|
|No. The categories in PARIS were designed to provide the ABO and OSC a high-level summary of your authority’s budget and financial plan. The more detailed categories that your authority uses for budgeting purposes should be included in the document that you post to your authority’s website.|
|If the authority’s Board modifies or amends the budget, does this need to be changed in PARIS?|
|State authorities must submit significant changes to their budget pursuant to OSC Regulations using the OSC Budget Impact Statement tab. Authorities that are not subject to OSC regulations do not need to modify or amend their approved budget in PARIS.|
|Does the Staff screen pertain to only those staff members making more than $100,000?|
|All staff must be listed regardless of salary or title. This staff roster satisfies the requirements of PAL 2800 and PAL 2806.|
|Who is considered Staff?|
|For purposes of completing the Staff screen, an "employee" is staff who (1) draws a salary from the authority and would appear on its payroll roster, or (2) is paid by another entity and assigned as staff to the public authority for the day to day operations of the authority, and whose work station would, by any reasonable measure, be considered that of the public authority, its headquarters, facilities, or offices and who would be entitled to use the assets and equipment of the authority. Other individual who work for the authority on a specific deliverable or time specified project, pursuant to a personal or professional services contract with a non-governmental entity, and by any reasonable standard are recognized as providing consultant services, would not be considered an employee for purposes of completing this screen. Information on this individual's title, salary, benefits and duties should be reflected in the Procurement Report.|
|What is meant by ‘exempt’?|
|Section 41(1) of the Civil Service Law identifies public officers and positions which shall be in the Exempt Class and provides that the Exempt Class shall include “all other offices or positions for which the Civil Service Commission has determined it is not practicable to fill by competitive or non-competitive examination.” Such positions are not tenure bearing. Staff that are identified as ‘exempt’ are not represented by a union or bargaining unit.|
|How should the authority report salary information for staff whose salaries are not paid by the authority?|
|The annualized salary information should reflect only the amount paid by the authority. If the staff member's salary is entirely paid for by another entity you would enter $0 in the annualized salary data field. If the public authority reimburses a local government for the salary of a staff member assigned to work for the authority, the amount reimbursed for salary should be entered in the annualized salary data field. In addition, the authority should answer "yes" to the question “Does the employee also hold another paid State or local government position”.|
|Does the question “Are any authority staff also employed by another government agency?” apply if the individual has a second job that is unrelated to the authority?|
|No. This question is meant only to identify individuals who work for the authority and are paid for that work by a State or local government agency. The authority is not expected to identify and report on individuals who hold second jobs unrelated to their positions or employment status with the public authority.|
|Should we be reporting staff salary information as of the end of the fiscal year? Section 2806 of Public Authorities Law states that staff data should be reported by January 15.|
|Public authorities have the option of reporting salary information based on either the staff roster as of December 31st or the staff roster as of the end of your authority’s fiscal year, whichever is consistent with your authority’s payroll records. Reporting staff data using the PARIS Annual Report tab satisfies the requirements of both Sections 2800 and 2806 of Public Authorities Law.|
|Should personal services contracts be included in the staff listing?|
|Individuals engaged through personal or professional services contracts to act in a staff capacity to perform the day to day operations of the authority, and whose work station would, by any reasonable measure, be considered that of the public authority, its headquarters, facilities, or offices and who would be entitled to use the assets and equipment of the authority, should be included on the Staff screen in PARIS. Personal or professional services contracts that include other individuals who work for the authority on a specific deliverable or time specified project, pursuant to a personal or professional services contract should not be included on the staff listing. Auditing and legal services are examples of these types of personal or professional services contracts. All personal service contracts that are $5,000 or more should be included in the Procurement Report in PARIS.|
|Do you have to answer benefit questions for staff making more than $100,000 even if they do not hold managerial positions?|
|Yes, the list of staff on the benefits screen is pre-populated based on the salary information provided on the employees screen.|
|If a board member designates a representative to attend board meetings in his/her place, and this designee has attended training, how should this information be reported in PARIS?|
Board members are not required to participate in training only if they have effectively delegated their responsibilities as a board member to a designee. If the designee attends the majority of board meetings on behalf of the member, has the authority to represent and act on behalf of the member and casts votes for the member, then that designee must attend required State approved training, since as a practical matter they function as the board member. If the designee has participated in training, the authority should answer "yes" that the board member has complied with the training requirement of Section 2824 on the 'Enter Board Member' screen in PARIS.
|What if an IDA project has been entered in to PARIS and there is a subsequent decision that the project will not move forward – how will this be captured in PARIS?|
|If an IDA has entered a project in PARIS and that project is subsequently denied or terminated with no ongoing financial agreements remaining in place, the authority should check the boxes at the bottom of the "Modify IDA Project" screen relating to that project. This will record the project as "inactive" and remove it from the IDA's list of active projects.|
|What does PARIS consider an ‘active project’?|
|An "active project" is one in which the authority and the project developer have entered into a written agreement that outlines the terms and conditions imposed on the project developer and where at least one of the following has happened: the project had straight lease transactions; the project had bonds or notes issued, outstanding or retired; the project had the property title transferred to the IDA or have not yet transferred title back to the project owner; or the project received tax exemptions or other financial assistance through the IDA.|
|Why does PARIS require information that was not requested in the past and is not in law? What authority does OSC and the ABO have to ask for this information?|
|This information is being requested to provide a better understanding of the economic level of jobs IDA projects are supporting, and to improve accountability and transparency to the public. While there are no specific statutory requirements to collect this information, there are broad powers granted to the Comptroller through the Constitution and enabling statutes that have been consistently interpreted to include the authority to collect information beyond specific statutory provisions, where such information is relevant to the Comptroller’s oversight responsibilities.|
|What if our public authority has older projects and cannot get the salary information that is now required in PARIS?|
|OSC and the ABO recognize that, for the IDAs with existing projects that were intended to create or retain jobs, but did not gather job or salary information when approving the projects, it may be difficult to report the requested information. For such projects, enter “0” in the estimated salary field and provide an explanation in the project purpose description box. The expectation is that you should collect this information for future projects.|
|What transactions need to be included on the Procurement Report?|
|This Report should include the procurement guidelines adopted by the public authority and a list of all procurement contracts. Procurement guidelines should reflect the policies governing the awarding, monitoring, use and reporting of contracts and establish the dollar thresholds for purchases requiring board approval. Procurement contracts are defined as any written agreement for the purchase of goods or services in the actual or estimated amount of $5,000 or more. Please refer to Section 2879 of Public Authorities Law for further guidance.|
|Do all purchase orders need to be included in the Procurement Report?|
|Individual purchases in the amount of $5,000 or more, or aggregate purchases to a single vendor that total $5,000 or more during the reporting period should be included in the Procurement Report.|
|Since the format for the Property Documents screen is not defined, can we use the same format as in the past?|
|The Property Documents can be submitted as formatted by your authority. Individual property transactions will have to be recorded using the PARIS property acquisition and disposal screens.
|How can an authorizer create a user account to provide someone with access to the Enrollment or PARIS application?|
Note: The individual will receive two emails from OSC_Customer_Service@osc.state.ny.us with instructions for completing the enrollment process. The individual will complete their enrollment by accessing the web page using the link provided in the second email, creating a password, and selecting and answering two ‘secret questions’.
|How can an Authorizer designate someone else as an Authorizer?|
Note: This is a good suggestion, to have as a backup authorizer, or if the person who is the primary authorizer leaves the authority.
|How can an authorizer make changes to an user account that has already been established?|
Note: This is a good suggestion, to have as a backup authorizer, or if the person who is the primary authorizer leaves the authority.
|What do I do if I have forgotten my password?|
OrThe authorizer for the public authority can have the password reset.
|How can an Authorizer unlock an individual’s account that has been locked from too many incorrect password entries?|
Note: This is useful if the person knows their password and does not want to change it, but simply mistyped it.
OrThe authorizer for the public authority can reset the password:.
|What do I do if I have forgotten my user id?|
OrCheck with the authorizer for the authority. The authorizer can access the Enrollment application, and identify the user id that was established for the individual.
|What does an Authorizer do if an individual has left the authority, or no longer requires access to PARIS as part of their job, and needs their account deleted?|
Note: An account cannot be deleted; it can only be made inactive.
|A public authority has created one or more subsidiary corporations for liability purposes only, which do not operate as independent entities. Are these subsidiaries subject to the requirements of this Act?|
| A subsidiary that has a Board of Directors substantially different from the composition of the parent public authority board and that functions autonomously with its own staff is a subsidiary for purposes of this Act and must independently comply with its requirements. Subsidiaries that have common membership on boards of directors as the parent corporation, rely on the staff of the parent organization and function in a practical sense as a division, office or unit of the parent public authority do not have to separately comply with Chapter 766. However, their activities, debt, practices and operations are to be included in the reports submitted by the parent public authority.