STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
PRELIMINARY PERFORMANCE REVIEW OF THE
Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee
Committee Inactive Since November 1997
Non-Compliance with Open Meetings Law
State Capitol Complex
The Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee was created in 1996. It is authorized to make recommendations to the Superintendent of Military Affairs and Public Safety regarding types and makes of protective helmets, eye wear and equipment. It is also authorized to make recommendations to the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles regarding the use of moneys in the Motorcycle Safety Fund. These are its only statutory functions.
The Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee is a six person committee, consisting of two government representatives and four citizen members. The government representatives are: the Superintendent of the State Police, or a designee, and the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles, or a designee. The citizen members consist of: a licensed motorcycle operator; an owner of a motorcycle dealership; a supplier of aftermarket non-franchised motorcycle supplies; and the Superintendent of the West Virginia Safety Council, or a designee. The citizen members, except for the Safety Council's representative, are appointed to terms of three years, by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Motorcycle Safety Fund
This fund is created by '17B-1D-7, as amended and is a special revolving fund. It consists of moneys received from motorcycle licensing fees, not including instruction permit fees, one half of the moneys received from the motorcycle safety fee assessed with each motorcycle registration and any other moneys allocated to the fund. The Division of Motor Vehicles is directed by the statute to use the fund to defray the costs of the motorcycle safety education program and to defray the costs of the motorcycle driver licensing program based upon the recommendations of the Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee. Expenditures from the fund since Fiscal Year 1995 total $313,474. A complete breakdown of expenditures is available in Appendix A.
Motorcycle Safety Education Program
'17B-1D-2 establishes the West Virginia Motorcycle Safety Education Program within the Division of Motor Vehicles. The program is to be administered by the Commissioner of DMV and includes rider and instructor training courses. The statute allows that the program may also include the following: efforts to enhance public motorcycle safety awareness; alcohol and drug effects awareness for motorcyclists; driver improvement efforts; licensing improvement efforts; program promotion and; other efforts to enhance motorcycle safety through education.
The Division of Motor Vehicles contracts with a private vendor for the training. The contract expired and is currently out for bid, in accordance with state purchasing guidelines. In the original contract, the contractor agreed to:
conduct motorcycle safety and education courses using the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Motorcycle Rider Course: Riding and Street Skills (MRC-RRS)...
Article VII of the contract addresses compensation, payment and invoices. For "acceptable performance," the Division of Motor Vehicles agreed to provide:
A per course reimbursement for MRC:RSS courses of 6 to 8 students of $331.52.
A per course reimbursement for MRC:RSS courses of 9 to 12 students of $420.88
An actual cost reimbursement in accordance with the cost breakdown submitted by Contractor in his bid for those expenses not typically covered by training course or per student reimbursements (a and b), including, but not limited to use of training motorcycles; purchase of program equipment and supplies; equipment maintenance; course publicity and promotion; instructor compliance expenses; and motorcycle and equipment storage; which have received prior written approval from the DMV; and as long as total reimbursement for expenses does not exceed $12,250.70.
Administrative costs, paid monthly in the amount of $4,468.17, one twelfth of the total administrative costs submitted in the contractor's bid, not to exceed, however, the actual expenses per item set forth therein.
In Fiscal Years 1996 to 1999, the vendor was paid $271,367 from the Motorcycle Safety Fund. Progress reports submitted by the vendor to the Division of Motor Vehicles indicate that over 1,000 students completed the safety training course. In addition to the payments from the fund, the vendor also retains all tuition money. Tuition was increased from $25 to $50 in November 1997 by the Division of Motor Vehicles. According to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, the tuition from the training classes offset the cost of the contract. Additionally, the vendor offers an advanced rider training course, of which it keeps all of the $65 tuition fee. The Division of Motor Vehicles reports that though it allows the vendor to conduct this program, it does not subsidize it.
Issue Area 1: The Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles has not taken an active part in the Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee since November 1997.
The Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee met five times between December 1996 and November 1997. However, no meeting has been held since November 1997. The statute does not stipulate how often the Committee shall meet, although at the first meeting, held on December 5, 1996, the Committee agreed to meet quarterly. The statute does not address who may call a meeting, however, the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles asserts that it is the Commissioner's responsibility. The Commissioner informed the Legislative Auditor that a meeting has not been called since November 1997 due to "Lack of attendance of citizen members and the reappointment of new members to the committee."
|Meeting Date||DMV Comm||Supt. State Police||Director
|Motorcycle Dealer||Motorcycle Operator||Motorcycle
|Source: PERD Analysis of Meeting Minutes, X indicates member was present
Two new members were appointed in August 1998.
An original appointee informed the Legislative Auditor's Office that he was not notified of two Committee meetings. Additionally, this member was unaware that he was no longer a Committee member until he was contacted by the Legislative Auditor's Office. New appointees have never been contacted to schedule or attend a meeting. One new member contacted the Division of Motor Vehicles regarding the Motorcycle Safety Program and received no response. (See Appendix B) Citizen members are an important part of any state board or committee. They bring experience on how public policy impacts its intended purpose. A summary of meeting attendance is available in Table 1.
Activities of the Committee
In calendar years 1996 and 1997, the Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee was active. Meeting minutes indicate the Committee:
Participated in a Sharing the Road campaign; prepared public service announcements; developed a proclamation concerning motorcycle safety in conjunction with the governor's office; designed a motorcycle safety brochure; recommended a fee increase for the rider education program; studied other states graduated license programs; and reviewed accident reports and statistics.
Cause of Attendance Problem
Citizen appointees report that meeting attendance is problematic. These members are often self-employed and the time away from their own businesses is costly. The statute creating the Committee is vague. It does not provide reimbursement for actual expenses, nor does it provide a per diem for attendance. Attendance may be improved by providing these benefits to appointees.
The Legislature should consider amending the Code to require quarterly meetings and the designation of a chairman.
The Legislature should consider amending the Code to allow appointed members to receive travel reimbursement and a per diem for attending Committee meetings.
Issue Area 2: The Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee is in Violation of the Open Meetings Law
'6-9A-3, as amended, provides requirements for compliance with the Open Meetings Law. It states, in part:
...Each governing body shall promulgate rules by which the time and place of all regularly scheduled meetings and the time, place and purpose of all special meetings are made available, in advance, to the public and news media, except in the event of an emergency requiring immediate official action.
Each governing body of the executive branch of the state shall file a notice of any meeting with the secretary of state for publication in the state register. Each notice shall state the time, place and purpose of the meeting. Each notice shall be filed in a manner to allow each notice to appear in the state register at least five days prior to the date of the meeting...
The Administrative Law Division of the Secretary of State's Office found no record of any meeting notices filed by the Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee, nor did it find any notices filed by the Division of Motor Vehicles for the Committee. The Open Meetings Law applies to all public bodies and guarantees public accountability. By failing to notify the Secretary of State's office of its meetings, the Committee failed to conduct a single open meeting as defined and required by state law. The full text of the Open Meetings Law is available in Appendix B.
West Virginia Code '6-9A-1, as amended, describes the purpose of the Open Meetings Law as it relates to the sovereignty of the citizens of the state and their right to know the decision making process of government entities which serve them. Specifically, it states:
The Legislature hereby finds and declares that public agencies, boards, commissions, governing bodies, councils and all other public bodies in this state exist for the singular purpose of representing citizens of this state in governmental affairs, and it is, therefore, in the best interests of the people of this state for all proceedings of all public bodies to be conducted in an open and public manner. The Legislature hereby further finds and declares that the citizens of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the governmental agencies which serve them. The people in delegating authority do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for them to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments of government created by them.
The Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee should immediately comply with the requirements of the Open Meetings Law. The Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles, or a designee, should assume responsibility for this function.
The Motorcycle Safety and Education Committee should promulgate rules in accordance with the Open Meetings Law.