Florida's oversight board
Unlike big banks and mutual funds, the SBA and other public investment agencies face no comparable oversight. They are not required to fully disclose their finances, nor do they have to undergo annual, independent audits. Instead, these public agencies report to oversight boards. Florida has three members on its oversight board. Eight comparable boards in other states have nine to 17 members. Other states include on their boards representatives from the investment community, or a representative of the pension plan or other investors. Florida does not. It has three elected officials: the governor, the chief financial officer and the attorney general. Here is what they had to say about the findings in this story:
Gov. Charlie Crist wants better disclosure. "The notion of openness and transparency is very important to me.
"I would encourage all at the SBA to communicate in plain language. … They get into a lot of sophisticated financial dialogue, but from my perspective, it's incredibly important to communicate in a way that's understandable — especially in a time of economic turmoil, when people would have an increased concern about their financial well-being.''
As he spoke, Crist looked at the home page of the SBA Web site and expressed frustration at the lack of straightforward financial information. "I was trying to look at the total assets in the pension fund — one of the most obvious things.'' But it wasn't there.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink declined comment.
Attorney General Bill McCollum declined comment. A spokeswoman said he welcomed more information.