Executive Committee

PRESENT: Luke Shorty, Stacie Haines, Pam Proulx-Curry, Ed Barrett, Celeste Branham, Jenni Tilton-Flood

The members convened at 3:30 pm using the virtual meeting technology.

Procurement “Bridge” Policy. During federal monitoring of the Commission financial and grant systems (policies, procedures, and testing of both), one corrective action was required. It is a surprise for several reasons – it pertains to a type of procurement the Commission does not engage in; it is a federal OMB requirement that the State of Maine does not have a policy for; and, there is no waiver or process for exemption. That said, it is a requirement that might yield the Commission some information we need for DEI purposes. Michael took the lead on this because the corrective action was attached to the training grant. 

The draft policy for the Commission was circulated to Exec Committee with the agenda so it could be discussed and readied for board vote. There was a brief discussion and staff shared that there is no database in Maine with the information we will need to comply.  It will have to be an intern project later in the year. It was also shared that the state procurement officer indicated states are discussing whether the policy is required or suggested because the language used is language that normally indicates a suggestion. However, CNCS is not interpreting it that way and non-compliance has consequences for funding. Again, it’s not the requirement per se but that the purpose doesn’t actually apply to grants even though we are opting to extend it to that activity as good practice. 

Executive Committee members agreed the draft is ready for full board consideration.

Federal proposed change in grant cycles for CSG and TTA/CIF. Maryalice briefed members on an issue that could cause lots of headaches. On March 29, CNCS sent a memo to state commissions letting us know they want to change the annual grant awards start/end dates for Commission operating funds from January-December to April – March. Maryalice asked state accountants for their thoughts and, as expected, they absolutely do not support. The January-December timeframe does not fit federal fiscal or state fiscal but manual systems have been built over time to handle the peculiar timeframe. The cost of switching and altering systems is not welcome. The same responses – and some more strenuous – were relayed from other states during a special call with the federal agency earlier today. States also made clear that, unless the federal agency provided short term funding to get states from a Dec 31 end to a new start date, the commissions would not be able to function. The federal agency is taking the comments of Commissions under advisement but it’s not clear at all what will be the final result.

Commissions did ask what problem the agency was trying to solve. The agency said they want to make the full awards in one process and do it after the appropriation. It was pointed out that, in 10 years, there have only been 3 instances of the appropriation being finalized late so a process that presumes appropriations will be late makes no sense.

Public Policy Updates.  Luke reported on the very busy public policy schedule. There are three bills out as LDs and moving through the legislative process. LD 142 has had a public hearing and work session but has not been reported out by committee.  LD 143 was passed by the House on 3/30, passed in the Senate right after and went to the Appropriations table. LD 1260 is scheduled for public hearing in front of SLG on April 11. And, LD 666 is being amended by the sponsor with work session scheduled for April 14. The legislation that has not appeared as an LD pertains to making education award benefits for corps members exempt from state income tax. 

Public Policy is organizing a “breakfast” update for bill sponsors, legislators with ties to the Commission or national service, and key committee chairs. Jenni will be sending a note to Commissioners on how to help on April 12.
Nationally, there is concern among states about the President’s budget proposal for AmeriCorps. While it does raise the living allowance significantly (almost to Maine minimum wage), the mechanism for doing so is to reduce member positions by about 33,000.

Task Force updates. 
DEI – Branham. Members of the subcommittee ask that it be elevated to a task force. Exec members agreed this is the next logical move. Task forces are created by vote of the board which includes approval of the task force mission. Celeste will work with committee members on a draft mission for the board to consider on April 21.

Communications—Tilton-Flood. Jenni is stepping in to lead this task force on a temporary basis. It has not met in a while. Her goal is to reboot in early May after she consults with Bryan about priorities and where things left off.

Climate Corps – Haines. Stacie indicated there is not update because their meetings are always falling two days before the Commission business meeting. She will be away for the April meeting but Kirsten is quite able to lead and will report to the board.

Excellence and Expertise – Proulx-Curry. Pam noted the task force projects are expanding each month. It was clarified that the task force is to manage the Commissioner Ambassador program and not be the only liaisons to national service programs. That news brought some peace of mind.

Maine Service Fellows – Branham. The new membership convened for the first time and discussed some needed policies and procedures. Celeste is working with Jake on drafts for the group’s review and recommendations.

MVF Liaison. Celeste noted she is willing to give the Foundation update whenever a Foundation board member is unable to attend.

Grant Selection – Barrett. The members have switched gears from strategic plan tasks to grant selection tasks. Applications are due in April 13. There are barely enough peer reviewers and definitely not enough tech reviewers. The latter is due to 3 members of GTF being out of country from mid-April to mid-May. Jenni will send a message to all commissioners asking for assistance on this. It is the largest responsibility of the Commission.

There being no other items for discussion or addition to the April 21 agenda, the members dispersed at 4:34 pm.